Decision Making Heuristics

Nicole Neal
Decision Making Heuristics

Whether it is the decision to go to class or the decision of what your major will be, everyday life is filled with decisions. There are no guidelines or set of rules that tell us exactly how to make a decision. However, people use heuristics to aid in their decision making. Heuristics are strategies that help produce correct solutions. Heuristics donít always produce a correct answer, sometimes they are the reasons why people make the wrong decisions. Weíll look at three different types of decision-making heuristics: representativeness, availability and anchoring and adjustment.

The Representativeness Heuristic
We live our lives believing that all things occur randomly and appear randomly. The representative heuristic is used quite often when making decisions. We make our decisions based on the likeliness of a sample to occur in the population. Random outcomes are more accepted than orderly outcomes as long as the outcome is due to a random process. Ex. Coin toss, rolling dice, etc.

The Availability Heuristic
Our memory plays a major role in decision making. Specifically when making judgments about frequency and probability. We make these judgments based on how easy it is to think of examples. It should be obvious how this heuristic can lead someone to make the wrong decision.

The Anchoring and Adjustment Heuristic
This heuristic is like the availability heuristic because itís sometimes based on previous knowledge. Making an initial judgment is the anchoring, we make an approximation about something. Once itís anchored we then make adjustments according to additional information that we may receive.

A Few Helpful Web Links in Understanding Decision Making Heuristics

Thinker: Decision Making & Heuristics
This website describes and gives demonstartions of the three types of heuristics listed on this page and also a few other tools that are used when making decisions.

Heuristics and Biases
A pdf file describing and giving examples of decision making heuristics.

SFB 504 Glossary
Gives the definition of the three heuristics.

Judgmental Heuristics
A web page describing both the representativeness and availability heuristics.

A web site describing the representativeness heuristic.

Gives the description of both the representativeness and availability heuristics.

Curious: The Representative Heuristic
A blog describing the representative heuristic.

The Availability Heurtistic in the Classroom
A journal describing the availability heuristic.

The Anchoring & Adjustment Heuristic
An article about research on the anchoring and adjustment heuristic.

Overcoming Bias: Anchoring & Adjustment
A web site discussing the anchoring and adjustment heuristic.

This web page was created by: Nicole Neal
Disclaimer: To my knowledge the image displayed is not copyrighted. If it is under copyright protection, let me know and I will remove it. Nicole Neal