Empirical Tests of a Fast-and-Frugal Heuristic: Not Everyone “Takes-the-Best”

Ben R. Newell, Nicola J. Weston and David R. Shanks

in Heuristics

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199744282
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894727 | DOI:
Empirical Tests of a Fast-and-Frugal Heuristic: Not Everyone “Takes-the-Best”

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The fast-and-frugal heuristics approach to decision making under uncertainty advocated by Gigerenzer and colleagues (e.g., Gigerenzer & Goldstein, 1996) has achieved great popularity despite a relative lack of empirical validation. This chapter reports two experiments that examine the use of one particular heuristic—“take-the-best” (TTB). In both experiments the majority of participants adopted frugal strategies, but only one-third (33%) behaved in a manner completely consistent with TTB's search, stopping and decision rules. Furthermore, a significant proportion of participants in both experiments adopted a nonfrugal strategy in which they accumulated more information than was predicted by TTB's stopping rule. The results provide an insight into the conditions under which different heuristics are used, and question the predictive power of the fast-and-frugal approach.

Keywords: bounded rationality; fast-and-frugal heuristics; take-the-best; behavioral strategies

Chapter.  9835 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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