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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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Rethinking Cognitive Biases as Environmental Consequences

Rethinking Cognitive Biases as Environmental Consequences

4 Rethinking Cognitive Biases as Environmental Consequences
Ecological Rationality

Gerd Gigerenzer

Klaus Fiedler

Henrik Olsson

Oxford University Press

Cognitive processes and their adaptive functions can hardly be understood if we look exclusively inside the mind, such as when we try to explain behavior with traits, attitudes, or preferences. Rather, it is essential to analyze the adaptive match between cognitive and ecological structures. This chapter shows that many phenomena that look like cognitive fallacies follow logically from a cognitive system well adapted to its environment. Specifically, the chapter presents an ecological analysis of judgment and choice in terms of the three moments of statistical distributions of information in environments. The chapter demonstrates that phenomena from various areas of psychology can be accounted for by people’s sensitivity to the three moments, and it also describes the implications of these moments in terms of the effect of regression toward the mean, the role of sample size, and the process of sampling.

Keywords:   ecological cognition, environment structures, overconfidence, regression toward the mean, moments of statistical distributions, cognitive biases, sampling processes

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