Article

Mechanisms of ecological rationality: heuristics and environments that make us smart

Peter M. Todd and Gerd Gigerenzer

in Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780198568308
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198568308.013.0015

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Mechanisms of ecological rationality: heuristics and environments that make us smart

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This article describes some of the simple heuristics that the human mind has evolved to use in particular circumstances, and the pressures on decision making that may have shaped the contents of the mind's adaptive toolbox. It begins by considering the notion of bounded rationality — the assumption that human cognition is constrained by limits of some sort — and just which types of bounds have been most important in cognitive evolution. It then looks at the components that decision mechanisms are built up from and examines how they enable simple and fast choices to be made. It also presents four main classes of simple heuristics that have been explored in depth: ignorance-based heuristics, one-reason decision mechanisms, elimination strategies, and satisficing search methods. The article considers some of the challenges facing the understanding of simple heuristics and why they can work so well.

Keywords: heuristics; human; mind; decision making; adaptive toolbox; rationality; cognition; evolution; choices

Article.  9283 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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