Environment Structure That Simple Heuristics Can Exploit
This chapter argues that information redundancy in environments has a major impact on the accuracy and frugality of inference heuristics. In a simulation study, under high information redundancy heuristics that rely on only the most important information were found to be as accurate as strategies that integrated all available information, whereas under low redundancy, integrating information became advantageous. This result generalized to a large variety of real-life inference problems, where again information redundancy had a strong effect on the strategies’ accuracy. On the basis of these results, it was predicted that people would select different heuristics depending on the information redundancy in the environment, and that in situations of high information redundancy their inferences would follow simple heuristics that focus on little information. These predictions were confirmed in two experiments, demonstrating that information redundancy strongly influences the ecological rationality of inference strategies and is a key feature of adaptive strategy selection.
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