"How do people cope in the real, complex world of confusing and overwhelming information and rapidly approaching deadlines? This important book starts a new quest for answers. Here, Gigerenzer, Todd, and their lively research group show that simple heuristics are powerful tools that do surprisingly well. The field of decision making will never be the same again."--Donald A. Norman, author of Things That Make Us Smart
and The Invisible Computer
"Gigerenzer & Todd's volume represents a major advance in our understanding of human reasoning, with many genuinely new ideas on how people think and an impressive body of data to back them up. Simple Heuristics is indispensable for cognitive psychologists, economists, and anyone else interested in reason and rationality."--Steven Pinker, author of How the Mind Works
and Words and Rules
"In the past few years, the theory of rational (sensible) human behavior has broken loose from the illusory and empirically unsupported notion that deciding rationally means maximizing expected utility. Research has learned to take seriously and study empirically how real human beings ... actually address the vast complexities of the world they inhabit. Simple Heuristics ... offers a fascinating introduction to this revolution in cognitive science, striking a great blow for sanity in the approach to human rationality."--Herbert A. Simon, Carnegie Mellon University, and Nobel Laureate in Economics
"This book is a major contribution to the theory of bounded rationality. It illustrates that the surprising efficiency of fast and simple procedures is due to their fit with the structure of the environment in which they are used. The emphasis on this ecological rationality is an advance in a promising and already fruitful new direction of research."--Reinhard Selten, Professor of Economics at the University of Bonn, and Nobel Laureate in Economics
"In recent years, and particularly in the culture wars, many people have written about rationality. These authors now provide a summary of this recent history, organized on the basis of different types of decision making. In each case, the authors summarize the literature so as to provide an implicit history. But the book is more fundamentally aimed at making rationality workable by showing 'the way that real people make the majority of their inferences and decisions.'"--Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
"The underlying argument of the book is that the environments in which we evolved and in which we now live have certain regularities, and that decision making mechanisms--both evolved mechanisms, and the mechanisms that we actually use today--take advantage of these environmental regularities. Most of the book illustrates this argument by showing that in many circumstances shortcut decision making mechanisms (the 'simple heuristics' of the title) are remarkably accurate...This book by Gigerenzer and his associates marks a significant advance in the analysis." -- Paul H. Rubin, Journal of Bioeconomics, Vol 2, 2000
From the Author
How can anyone be rational in a world where knowledge is limited, time is pressing, and deep thought is often an unattainable luxury? In our book, "Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart," we invite readers to embark on a new journey into a land of rationality that differs from the familiar territory of cognitive science and economics. Traditional models of rationality in these fields have tended to view decision-makers as possessing supernatural powers of reason, limitless knowledge, and an eternity in which to make choices. But to understand decisions in the real world, we need a different, more psychologically plausible notion of rationality. This book provides such a view. It is about fast and frugal heuristics-simple rules for making decisions with realistic mental resources. These heuristics can enable both living organisms and artificial systems to make smart choices, judgments, and predictions by employing bounded rationality.
But when and how can such fast and frugal heuristics work? What heuristics are in the mind's "adaptive toolbox," and what building blocks compose them? Can judgments based simply on a single reason be as accurate as those based on many reasons? Could having less knowledge even lead to systematically better predictions than having more knowledge? We explore these questions by developing computational models of heuristics and testing them through theoretical analysis and practical experiments with people. We show how fast and frugal heuristics can yield adaptive decisions in situations as varied as choosing a mate, dividing resources among offspring, predicting high-school drop-out rates, and profiting from the stock market.
We have worked to create an interdisciplinary book that is both useful and engaging and will appeal to a wide audience. It is intended for readers interested in cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology, and cognitive science, as well as in economics and artificial intelligence. We hope that it will also inspire anyone who simply wants to make good decisions.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.