By Peggy F. Barlett
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Additional info for Agricultural Decision Making. Anthropological Contributions to Rural Development
But the fact that people are not machine-like is a major reason that formal models have trouble predicting their behavior. The ethnographer, however, is not a machine. In the course of ethnographic fieldwork, there develop not mere impressions, but solidly based intuitions drawing upon the same ability to weigh large numbers of factors and arrive at good enough solutions as the people being studied. I want to stress that these intuitions are neither "vague" nor "impressionistic," but reflect the experience and accumulated cultural wisdom of the people themselves.
Food and Nutrition Board, National Academy of Sciences. Pospisil, Leopold 1963 Kapauku Papuan Economy. New Haven: Yale University Publications in Anthropology. 2. LIMITS OF FORMALISM 40 Read, Dwight, and Katherine Read 1970 Critique of Davenport's Game Theory Analysis. American Anthropologist 72:351-355. Simon, Herbert 1977 Models of Discovery. Boston: Reidel. White, Douglas 1973 Mathematical Anthropology. In Handbook of Social and Cultural Anthropology. J. Honigmann, ed. pp. 3 6 9 - 4 4 6 . Chicago: Rand McNally.
Persistent Optimism" and the Limits of Formalism Given these two transformations from an ill-structured into a wellstructured problem—that the problem must be reduced to a fraction of its original form, and that the empirical data are far from meeting the formal requirements for perfect information—it is not reasonable to expect formal decision models to predict more than certain limited features of any relatively comprehensive description of economic behavior. This does not mean that the idea that people make decisions in terms of their own perceived self-interest, is wrong.
Agricultural Decision Making. Anthropological Contributions to Rural Development by Peggy F. Barlett