Ignorance can be evolutionarily beneficial.
Field JM., Bonsall MB.
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.