When Is the Recognition Heuristic an Adaptive Tool?
This chapter reviews research addressing four key aspects of the recognition heuristic: (a) that recognition is often an ecologically valid cue; (b) that people often follow recognition when making inferences; (c) that recognition supersedes further cue knowledge; and (d) that its use can produce the less-is-more effect—the phenomenon that lesser degrees of recognition knowledge can lead to more accurate inferences than greater degrees. The recognition heuristic is contrasted to other related concepts, including availability and fluency. From the existing findings, some boundary conditions for the use of the recognition heuristic are carved out. It is suggested that the recognition heuristic is used adaptively and that, compared to other cues, recognition seems to have a special status in decision making. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how systematic ignorance is exploited in other cognitive mechanisms (e.g., estimation and preference).
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