Modeling cognitive processes as the rational use of limited resources

Friday, September 17, 2021 - 1:30pm

Rational models of cognition provide a way to understand behavior in terms of the ideal solutions to computational problems. However, as psychologists, we are not just interested in behavior. We also want to understand the cognitive processes that give rise to that behavior. Classic theories of rationality have nothing to say about this: rationality is defined by the actions an agent takes. However, by considering an agent who has access to limited computational resources, we can ask how that agent should rationally make the best use of those resources to determine the appropriate action. The resulting framework, which we call “resource rationality,” provides a way to reconcile heuristics and rationality, and a tool for deriving new models of cognitive processes. I will illustrate this approach using examples from the study of decision-making and planning.

Organizers: Steve Change, Tristan Yates, Mario Belledonne.