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Ecological Rationality – Intelligence in the World - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Ecological Rationality: Intelligence in the World

Peter M. Todd and Gerd Gigerenzer


The idea that more information and more computation yield better decisions has long shaped our vision of rationality. Yet humans and other animals typically rely on simple heuristics or rules of thumb to solve adaptive problems, focusing on one or a few important cues and ignoring the rest, and shortcutting computation rather than striving for as much as possible. In this book, the authors argue that in an uncertain world, more information and computation are not always better, and instead ask when, and why, less can be more. The answers to these questions constitute the idea of ecological rat ... More

Keywords: rationality, cognition, decision making, environment structure, heuristics, robustness, search, stopping rule, uncertainty, recognition, classification, health, institution design

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2012 Print ISBN-13: 9780195315448
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195315448.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Peter M. Todd, author
Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition

Gerd Gigerenzer, author
Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition

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Part I The Research Agenda

1 What Is Ecological Rationality?

Peter M. Todd Gerd Gigerenzer

Part II Uncertainty in the World

2 How Heuristics Handle Uncertainty

Henry Brighton Gerd Gigerenzer

4 Rethinking Cognitive Biases as Environmental Consequences

Gerd Gigerenzer Klaus Fiedler Henrik Olsson

Part III Correlations Between Recognition and the World

5 When Is the Recognition Heuristic an Adaptive Tool?

Thorsten Pachur Peter M. Todd Gerd Gigerenzer Lael J. Schooler Daniel G. Goldstein

6 How Smart Forgetting Helps Heuristic Inference

Lael J. Schooler Ralph Hertwig Stefan M. Herzog

7 How Groups Use Partial Ignorance to Make Good Decisions

Konstantinos V. Katsikopoulos Torsten Reimer

Part IV Redundancy and Variability in the World

8 Redundancy

Jörg Rieskamp Anja Dieckmann

10 Efficient Cognition Through Limited Search

Gerd Gigerenzer Anja Dieckmann Wolfgang Gaissmaier

Part V Rarity and Skewness in the World

12 Why Rare Things Are Precious

Craig R. M. McKenzie Valerie M. Chase

14 Naïve, Fast, and Frugal Trees for Classification

Laura F. Martignon Konstantinos V. Katsikopoulos Jan K. Woike

15 How Estimation Can Benefit From an Imbalanced World

Ralph Hertwig Ulrich Hoffrage Rüdiger Sparr

Part VI Designing The World

16 Designed to Fit Minds

Will M. Bennis Konstantinos V. Katsikopoulos Daniel G. Goldstein Anja Dieckmann Nathan Berg

17 Designing Risk Communication in Health

Stephanie Kurzenhäuser Ulrich Hoffrage

18 Car Parking as a Game Between Simple Heuristics

John M. C. Hutchinson Carola Fanselow Peter M. Todd

Part VII Afterword

19 Ecological Rationality

Gerd Gigerenzer Peter M. Todd