Conflict Research Consortium BOOK SUMMARY

Models of Man: Social and Rational

by

Herbert A. Simon

Citation:

Herbert A. Simon. Models of Man: Social and Rational. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1957, 279 pp.


This book summary written by: Conflict Research Consortium Staff.

Models of Man: Social and Rational is, according to the author, a collection of mathematical essays on rational human behaviour in a social setting. The work employs mathematical formulae in support of the authors assertions regarding human behaviour.

Models of Man: Social and Rational will be of interest to those who desire an understanding of the human component of environmental problems and solutions. Simon divides his essays into four sections, each dealing with an overarching topic. The first part is concerned with causation and influence relationships. The author offers a philosophical discussion of the causal relation and examines; causal ordering and identifiability, and spurious correlations. He concludes the first section with notes on the observation and measurement of political power and the bandwagon and under-dog effects of election predictions.

The second section of the book addresses social processes. It begins with the presentation of a formal theory of interaction in social groups. This section considers the mechanisms involved in pressures both; toward uniformity and upon deviate members. The section is concluded with an examination of skew distribution functions. The brief third section is devoted to motivation which is comprised of two essays. The first of these is a comparison of organisation theories. The second essay is a formal theory of the employment relation.

The final section of the book concerns rationality and administrative decision-making. The first three essays offer an economic perspective while the last two offer a psychological perspective. In the former category is the first essay which examines productivity and the urban/rural population balance. The author discusses the application of servomechanism theor to production control. The final essay from an economic perspective is a behaviour model of rational choice. The last essay save one examines rational choice and the structure of the environment. The final essay is a comparison of game theory and learning theory.

Models of Man: Social and Rational combines multiple perspectives, primarily philosophical, economic and psychological, to create a model for rational human behaviour in a social setting.