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Rather, the author postulates that over millions of years of human evolution, such “smart” and adaptive heuristics have successfully guided our decision making in various (uncertain) environments.In short, we use all kinds of heuristics on a daily basis and apparently we do so for a good reason.Other research has shown that more choices can cause people to avoid decisions and generally lead them to be less satisfied.Have you ever had trouble trying to decide what brand of candy to buy in the supermarket?Gerd Gigerenzer recently summarized more than a decade of research concerning the role of heuristics in human decision making.Gigerenzer argues that heuristics aren’t a cognitive shortcoming at all.It is not that surprising that our decision making system breaks down when the human brain is confronted with too many options.Similar evidence is found in other non-human animals.
(They were, if anything, more confused about their choices.) These findings do not only pertain to the world of dating.
For example, the authors found that in speed-dating events where the amount of potential partners to choose from is relatively large, people predominantly pay attention to information that is easily accessible, such as age, height, body mass index, etc., rather than information that is harder to observe, such as occupation and education.
Because of their simplicity, heuristics have long been viewed as inferior to rational thought.
Well, several experiments have shown that when shoppers are presented with either an extensive or limited amount of potential consumer choices (e.g.
chocolates, jam flavors) more people actually end up making purchases, and are happier, when the choice environment only offers a limited set of options.
In an attempt to cope with the large amount of information and potential choices that we are presented with on a daily basis, we tend to rely on so-called “heuristics” (rules of thumb) that help guide our decision making.