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Ecological RationalityIntelligence in the World$
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Peter M. Todd and Gerd Gigerenzer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195315448

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195315448.001.0001

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How Heuristics Handle Uncertainty

How Heuristics Handle Uncertainty

Chapter:
2 How Heuristics Handle Uncertainty
Source:
Ecological Rationality
Author(s):

Henry Brighton

Gerd Gigerenzer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195315448.003.0014

Traditionally, it is assumed that a trade-off exists between effort and accuracy: The more effort we put in, the more accurate our inferences. This chapter shows how this trade-off does not hold in general, or even typically, by explaining how simple heuristics that ignore information can outperform more sophisticated inference strategies. Explanations of such “less-is-more” effects are given using statistical learning theory applied to situations where organisms face what is referred to as the bias–variance dilemma. Under conditions of uncertainty, it is argued, heuristics can both be more accurate and consume fewer resources than typical “rational” models of cognitive processing.

Keywords:   inference, bias–variance dilemma, heuristics, uncertainty, take-the-best

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