Rationality [The one that differentiate us from either an animal or a robot]

Rationality is the condition when you are being logical, fair, reasonable, and take actions based on reliable and fact-based information. When you are in a rational perspective, you should only make decisions that are profitable.

In the book Misbehaving, Richard Thaler (economist) wrote that “the core premise of economic theory is that people choose by optimizing.” Economist assumes that the world is filled with people that maximize their profit, optimize their budget or resources, and thinking rationally.

In the real world, we are just humans. We are not optimizers. We are not the living embodiment of Mr. Spock from star trek. We made tons and tons of irrational mistakes. If you want to learn more about the irrationality of human, you can just check my other posts. Almost all of my posts are showing our irrationality.

One of my favorite quotes is from Daniel Kahneman in his book Thinking Fast and Slow, he wrote that “First, people are generally rational, and their thinking is normally sound. Second, emotions such as fear, affection, and hatred explain most of the occasions on which people depart from rationality.”

There are many psychological phenomena that show that emotion is one of the biggest relevant factor that made us irrational. One of my favorites is called affect heuristics. Affect heuristics happens when people make a decision and solve a problem that influenced by how the way your emotions react to the stimulus. In this case, if you are feeling happy and excited, the stimulus most likely will be perceived as high benefit and low risk, vice versa.

So, those are some of the backstories of rationality. Now let me share with you my opinion of rationality (this idea is not supported by scientific research), and how it is the one that differs us from either animal or robot. Let’s take a look at the illustration below:


So the illustration above shows the relation of rationality and the type of organism/machine we are. The less irrational we are, the more similar we are toward animals. The more rational we are, the more similar we are toward robot. Before explaining the impact of rationality to our environment, let’s discuss the characteristics and the features of animal, human, and robot.

Animals rely more on their own gut, emotion, and other natural non-cognitive thinking processes rather than the rational mental processes. Human relies upon both emotion and our cognitive abilities. In fact, Aristotle (the father of logic) belief that a man is a rational animal. Even though it is not accurate anymore, but it surely represents that the word “rational” is one of the main characteristics and features that differentiate us from animals.

At the other hand, a robot is a machine that built and programmed by us to perform actions automatically. Robots are usually accompanied by Artificial Intelligence that is trained and conditioned by us to notify any pattern and use algorithms to work. The simplest example of A.I is your email spam system. The developer trained the A.I to notice email that has certain characteristics related to spam, and use the algorithm to automatically detecting them and put them in the spam folder.

So clearly, a robot is way more effective and more productive than a human being. Because robot doesn’t have emotions so the productivity will not influenced by emotions. That means every action that robot take will be reasoned and unbiased.

Now, what if we act like both of those extremes? Well, if we all act like animals, we will not have the advancement of technology and sciences that we have today. Our behavior will be easily manipulated and ruled by our emotions.

Additionally, if we all act like robots, there will be no friendship, and if there are we will more likely to implement the social exchange theory (social activities is the act of negotiation to minimize cost and maximize profit). There will be no gift-giving traditions. The best gift is money so the person could spend their money to buy the item that could maximize their own utility.

In a nutshell, the world will be chaotic if we are either act and think like an animal or either a robot. So the best thing for us is to maintain our range of rationality, so we could still be a human that full of affection and love but still thinking and behaving rationally.

What do you think about my own theory about rationality? Tell us in the comment box below!


Affect heuristic. (2017, August 20). Retrieved September 20, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affect_heuristic

Are We Rational Animals? (2016, June 14). Retrieved September 20, 2017, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/01/31/are-we-rational-animals/

Ariely, D. (2011). The upside of irrationality: The unexpected benefits of defying logic. New York: HarperPerennial.

Kahneman, D. (2015). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Rationality. (2017, September 16). Retrieved September 19, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationality

Robot. (2017, September 19). Retrieved September 20, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robot

Thaler, R. H. (2016). Misbehaving: The making of behavioral economics. New York: W. W. Norton.

What are Cognitive Abilities and Skills, and How to Boost Them? (2016, January 04). Retrieved September 20, 2017, from https://sharpbrains.com/blog/2006/12/18/what-are-cognitive-abilities/

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