What is it about?

Rational choice is sometimes taken to mean that we focus on content and ignore the context. However, the context can be quite important in making good decisions. This paper describes how and why considering the context can help both humans and algorithms - it helps to more efficiently interpret (i.e., extract more information from) and represent (e.g., in cognitive terms) content.

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Why is it important?

Lots of research has shown that context matters, but much of this considers the effect of context to reflect irrationality. By laying out reasons for context to matter in a computational sense, we can more sharply define what context means and explain when it matters. This provides a deep rationale that makes sense of seemingly irrational judgment.


The links between cognitive science, behavioral economics, and computer science continue to develop. I hope this perspective helps to bring multiple disciplines closer together.

Rahul Bhui
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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This page is a summary of: Why context should matter., Decision, April 2024, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/dec0000234.
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