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Neuro-economics sparks possible explanations of decision-making and risk taking

The emerging field of neuro-economics, not more than ten years old, studies the activity of neurons in the brain, polygraph-like sensors, and eye movements to understand better how humans think. For example, according to the NY Times, April 20, 2006 at C3 researchers have determined that “when people think about costs, they use different brain modules [than when they are in a “positive arousal state”] and become more anxious.” They become cautious, and become “especially afraid of ambiguous risks with unknown odds.” Other researchers have found that our brains assess risk and return separately, rather than making a single calculation of what economists call expected utility.

Far down the road, neuro-economics research will help lawyers fathom better how they exercise judgment and what context does to their powers of objectivity and calculation. Some lawyers will be neurologically more adept at making some kinds of decisions. Training will be more specific as it will be able to target more precisely areas of cognitive strength or weakness in lawyers.

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