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Information is increasingly being viewed as a resource used by organisms to increase their fitness. Indeed, it has been formally shown that there is a sensible way to assign a reproductive value to information and it is non-negative. However, all of this work assumed that information collection is cost-free. Here, we account for such a cost and provide conditions for when the reproductive value of information will be negative. In these instances, counterintuitively, it is in the interest of the organism to remain ignorant. We link our results to empirical studies where Bayesian behavior appears to break down in complex environments and provide an alternative explanation of lowered arousal thresholds in the evolution of sleep.

Original publication

DOI

10.1002/ece3.3627

Type

Journal article

Journal

Ecol Evol

Publication Date

01/2018

Volume

8

Pages

71 - 77

Keywords

Bayes’ theorem, ignorance, information, sleep, statistical decision theory