Reference #367: Thinking in Systems


The decisions of an individual — that is, their behaviour — often arise from the system they are part of. If you were to replace an individual exhibiting undesirable behaviour with another, it is unlikely the new person will act very differently. This is often attributable to bounded rationality.

Blaming the individual rarely creates a more desirable outcome. For example, you may observe that a group of fishermen overfish and hence negatively affect the fish population in their area. However, if you were placed in the bounded rational perspective of an individual fisherman with a family to support, imperfect knowledge of the state of the fish population, and imperfect knowledge of the future behaviour of other fishermen, you too would overfish.

Meadows. Thinking in Systems, 2008. (108)

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