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A brief history of heuristics : how did research on heuristics evolve?

  • Heuristics are cognitive shortcuts or rules of thumb that can be used to speed up the process of decision-making. They have been examined across a wide range of fields like economics, psychology, computer science and technology. However, scholars still struggle to find substantial common ground. This study provides a historical overview of heuristics as a research topic emphasizing the evolutionary perspective that takes heuristics as resulting from the development of the brain. Unlike much of the literature, we find it useful to clearly distinguish between conscious heuristics and subconscious heuristics. While we can trace the idea of heuristics through many centuries and fields of application, we focus on the evolution of the “modern” notion of heuristics through three waves of research and theory development starting with Herbert Simon who introduced the inspiring theory of “bounded rationality”, thereby paving the way for all following researchers to dig deeper into heuristics. Then came the breakthrough of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky who established a cognitive basis for human biases that arise from heuristics, and later the work of Gerd Gigerenzer who provided a practical “toolbox” consisting of “fast-and frugal” heuristics that are meant to yield “ecologically rational” decisions. This study aims to provide a comprehensive roadmap of what stages research on the notion of heuristics followed in an attempt to compile and explain the diversity of perspectives within the existing literature.

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Document Type:Working Paper
Author:Mohamad HjeijORCiD, Arnis VilksORCiD
Chairs and Professorships:Chair of Microeconomics
Full text/ URN:urn:nbn:de:101:1-2020122213441412832618
Parent Title (English):HHL Working paper
Series (Serial Number):HHL-Arbeitspapier / HHL Working paper (189)
Place of publication:Leipzig
Publisher:HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management
Year of Completion:2020
Page Number:37
Licence (German):License LogoUrheberrechtlich geschützt