Why ‘irrational’ choices can be rational [nature.com]
You prefer apples to oranges, but cherries to apples. Yet if I offer you just cherries and oranges, you take the oranges.
That does necessarily mean you\’re crazy, according to a new study published in Biology Letters1. The research shows that sometimes a decision like this, which sounds irrational, can actually be the best one.
Organisms, including humans, are often assumed to be hard-wired by evolution to try to make optimal decisions, to the best of their knowledge. Ranking choices consistently — for example, in selecting food sources — would seem to be one aspect of such rationality. If A is preferred over B, and B over C, then surely A should be selected when the options are just A and C? This seemingly logical ordering of preferences is called transitivity.