Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary

Reversing figure and ground in the rationality debate: An evolutionary perspective

W. Todd DeKay a1, Martie G. Haselton a2 and Lee A. Kirkpatrick a3
a1 Department of Psychology, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster PA 17604-3003
a2 Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712
a3 Department of Psychology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA 23188


A broad evolutionary perspective is essential to fully reverse figure and ground in the rationality debate. Humans' evolved psychological architecture was designed to produce inferences that were adaptive, not normatively logical. This perspective points to several predictable sources of errors in modern laboratory reasoning tasks, including inherent, systematic biases in information-processing systems explained by Error Management Theory.