Imagine the colored scented almonds inside a tube of Smarties replaced with pencils (remembering that this is a test for the ages of my readers). You pass it to one of your friends and ask him if he wants candy. She opens it and finds the pencil inside. He doesn’t like jokes. You offer him to repeat the joke to a third friend, but before putting it into action, ask him what, according to him, your third friend would expect to find on the tube. How do you think he will answer? “Candies” most likely. but how? She knows there’s no candy inside, so why should she think your friend says “candy”? Because your friend doesn’t know that there are pencils inside, only you know. Well, this strangely childish trick is actually a test called the “first-order false beliefs test” to verify the maturity level of a very important social ability that developmental psychologists call “theory of mind.” use for.
This ability begins to develop long before the age of three or four and matures into adulthood. The fact that although you know that the tube contains pencils, implies that your friend answers “candy”? It indicates the ability to see the world through the eyes of others when necessary. Thinking about the views of others and thus being able to understand their beliefs, desires and intentions. All the elements needed to develop meaningful social relationships. Failing the “false belief test” highlights a significant deficit in social skills and indeed occurs, for example, with subjects suffering from autism spectrum disorders. Cambridge psychologist and undisputed authority on autism studies, Simon Baron-Cohen, speaks of mind blindness, blindness to the minds of others, to refer to the inability to access the mental states of others that characterize autism spectrum disorder. and which, on the other hand, in specific developmental conditions, as we said, is observed already at a very young age.
We are social creatures and we are primarily because we are able to mirror ourselves in others, to create a shared intersubjective space where my “I” somehow fades and becomes confused with your “I”. Is. Vittorio Gallese, the co-discoverer of mirror neurons together with Giacomo Rizzolatti, called this a shared manifold (multiple sharing system). A system that “makes possible the recognition of other humans as our fellow humans, which fosters interspecies communication, imitation, and the attribution of others’ intentions”. Instead, as we have seen, by focusing so stubbornly on the concept of self-interest, the economic approach to human behavior has lost sight of this fundamentally “social” and interdisciplinary dimension. It is therefore difficult to understand all pro-social behavior that is either considered inconsistent, or sometimes narrowed by acrobatics, such as the Ptolemies within narrow schemes of self-interested rational choice, from epicycles and defferents. Let’s fight It is surprising that this sociality is also present in more sociological approaches to economic theory, for example, game theory from which, originally, any reference to concepts and ideas of a psychological nature was deliberately removed. In the perspective of its founders, John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern, a given course of action can be defined as rational if it leads to minimizing the maximum damage a player can receive, even if what the other players decide to do.
This condition of independence, which seems strange to find at the heart of the theory of strategic interdependence, arises from the effort, which unites the two authors, to eliminate from the assumptions of their theory any reference of a psychological nature. , and in particular, as famous Nicola Giocoli, to free players “from the need to form expectations about the actions and thoughts of their opponents”. A theory of social behavior that, paradoxically, explains another game theorist and Nobel laureate, Thomas Schelling, according to which an agent “does not need to communicate with its opponent, it does not even need to know knows who his opponent is, but not even if an opponent actually exists. (…) With the minimum criterion – shelling continues – a game is reduced to a completely one-sided situation”. Similar criticism is always brought by Schelling to another fundamental concept of the theory, “mixed strategy”, which is none other than “mixed strategy”: “a means of deliberately destroying any possibility of communication, especially of the communication of intentions”.
The project of John Nash, another founding father of the theory and who is in many ways a substitute for von Neumann and Morgenstern, is based on the concept of the solution, the “Nash equilibrium”, in fact, of course, distinct from the “Nash equilibrium”. Is. minimax”, even if still closed to the implementation of an actual “otherness”. For Nash, indeed, a behavior is rational when a subject’s action is the optimal response to every possible optimal response of the other players. To arrive at a choice of behavior, a player must first obtain an idea about what the other players’ optimal behavior would be; therefore he must obtain an idea about the desires and goals that others have set out to achieve. However, the high complexity of this process is solved by Nash through a highly reductionist operation, which assumes that the intentions of the other players are limited to achieving the maximum attainable utility. To understand the restrictions imposed by Nash, it is sufficient to consider that one of its implications is that the beliefs that two agents can form about the behavior of a third agent must be the same. The essence of game theory, developed by Nash, In his words, the notion that “the Each participant acts independently without any cooperation or communication with any other player.”
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