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Volume 2018, Article ID 3615476, 19 pages
Research Article

Evidence for Mixed Rationalities in Preference Formation

1Lorentz Institute for Theoretical Physics, Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands
2IMT School for Advanced Studies, Lucca, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to Alexandru-Ionuț Băbeanu; ln.vinunediel.ztnerol@unaebab

Received 19 May 2017; Accepted 17 October 2017; Published 2 January 2018

Academic Editor: Manlio De Domenico

Copyright © 2018 Alexandru-Ionuț Băbeanu and Diego Garlaschelli. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Understanding the mechanisms underlying the formation of cultural traits is an open challenge. This is intimately connected to cultural dynamics, which has been the focus of a variety of quantitative models. Recent studies have emphasized the importance of connecting those models to empirically accessible snapshots of cultural dynamics. In particular, it has been suggested that empirical cultural states, which differ systematically from randomized counterparts, exhibit properties that are universally present. Hence, a question about the mechanism responsible for the observed patterns naturally arises. This study proposes a stochastic structural model for generating cultural states that retain those robust empirical properties. One ingredient of the model assumes that every individual’s set of traits is partly dictated by one of several universal “rationalities,” informally postulated by several social science theories. The second, new ingredient assumes that, apart from a dominant rationality, each individual also has a certain exposure to the other rationalities. It is shown that both ingredients are required for reproducing the empirical regularities. This suggests that the effects of cultural dynamics in the real world can be described as an interplay of multiple, mixing rationalities, providing indirect evidence for the class of social science theories postulating such a mixing.