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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 Smart Forgetting Helps Heuristic Inference

How Smart Forgetting Helps Heuristic Inference

6 How Smart Forgetting Helps Heuristic Inference
Ecological Rationality

Lael J. Schooler

Ralph Hertwig

Stefan M. Herzog

Oxford University Press

Theorists ranging from William James (1890) to some contemporary psychologists have argued that forgetting is the key to proper functioning of memory. The authors elaborate on the notion of beneficial forgetting by proposing that loss of information aids inference heuristics that exploit mnemonic information. They demonstrate this by implementing the recognition and fluency heuristics for two-alternative choice within the ACT-R cognitive architecture. For the recognition heuristic, forgetting can boost accuracy by increasing the chances that only a single alternative is recognized. Simulations of the fluency heuristic, choosing based on the speed with which the alternatives are recognized, indicate that forgetting aids the discrimination between recognition speeds. The authors show that retrieval fluency can be a proxy for real-world quantities, that people can discriminate between two objects’ retrieval fluencies, and that people’s inferences are in line with the fluency heuristic.

Keywords:   fluency, fluency heuristic, recognition heuristic, ecological rationality, ACT-R, memory, forgetting, recognition

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