Models of Bounded Rationality
Gerd Gigerenzer and Daniel G. Goldstein
Humans and animals make inferences about the world under limited time and knowledge. In contrast, many models of rational inference treat the mind as a Laplacean Demon, equipped with unlimited time, knowledge, and computational might. Following H. Simon's notion of satisficing, authors have proposed a family of algorithms based on a simple psychological mechanism: one-reason decision making. These fast and frugal algorithms violate fundamental tenets of classical rationality: They neither look up nor integrate all information. By computer simulation, the authors held a competition between the satisficing “Take The Best” algorithm and various “rational” inference procedures (e.g., multiple regression). The Take The Best algorithm matched or outperformed all competitors in inferential speed and accuracy. This result is an existence proof that cognitive mechanisms capable of successful performance in the real world do not need to satisfy the classical norms of rational inference.
An early and highly influential paper by the author of Gut Feelings. It quickly becomes highly technical in its discussion of “optimal” decision procedures, but the first ten pages or so are a fairly readable introduction to the “take the best” algorithm.