Heuristics in Decision Making

Heuristicsin Decision Making

Heuristicsin Decision Making

Everyday, people make decisions to inform various functions in their life.Both small and big decisions require considerations of variousfactors. Understanding how people arrive at various choices is afield of interest in cognitive psychology. Different theories explainhow people arrive at different choices. Heuristics has also receivedsignificant research to understand the process of decision-making.Heuristics serves as the framework in which sound and satisfactorydecisions become a reality. Theorists have different types ofheuristics that individuals use in arriving at sound conclusions.They help individuals to reduce the efforts they use in makingdecisions, and they offer individuals general guidelines to follow tosettle at the most relevant conclusion (Zsambok &amp Klein, 2014).

Heuristicsis general strategies for decision making that people use based onthe little information they have. They act as mental shortcuts thatcut the mental intensity on the cognitive burden. Individuals layinsight on the few signals available and the alternative choices fortheir decisions. They reduce the work of retaining and retrievinginformation (Zsambok &amp Klein, 2014). There are various heuristicsused in decision making.

Representativeheuristics is one of the most used strategies. In this model, peopleopt for the most visible and conspicuous alternative. In case of twochoices, the one that dominates in the arena carries the day. Thestrategy is extremely economic in nature because it saves people timeto research on the other recessive option. It may require time andresources for people to get a deeper insight on the least favoredchoice. However, sound decisions cannot result from the face valuesof the visible choice. Individuals must rely on other sources ofinformation regarding the choice before taking it as the finaldecision (Gigerenzer &amp Gaissmaier, 2011).

Agood example can be the decision to put up a particular venture in aspecific niche. Different places have visible characteristics thatattract people. For example, a place with large beaches attractstourists. Entrepreneurs will probably decide to put up holiday homesand restaurants/. It is the most dominant choice. They spend littlemoney on market research since most of the information is available.In this situation, representative heuristic plays an important rolein facilitating a quick process of idea implementation. However, ifthe investors do not look for information regarding the future of thebusiness in the industry, there may be factors that would adverselyaffect the business. It might not fully serve the purpose without theapplication of triangulation of information from various sources(Gigerenzer &amp Gaissmaier, 2011).

Availabilityheuristics is another common strategy for decision making used bymany people. In this approach, people opt to use the most availableinformation without having to dig dip for any other relevantinformation regarding a situation. It is also economic in nature interms of time and resources. However, it is the cause of many peopleoverlooking other important factors that would be important beforemaking a decision (Dietrich, 2012).For example, a cliniciandiagnosing a patient in the examination room may incline towardsrecording the most visible signs of a disease. Although some diseasesmay have similar early signs, a deeper examination may help indistinguishing them. The clinician may use generalization as a basisto attribute the symptom as to a certain disease, but patients mayhave different ailments. In this situation, the method can be verydetrimental since a patient may receive treatment for a disease theydo not have. The unavailable information upon examination should besubjected to other vigorous tests to discover the real cause of thevisible symptoms.

Anchoringand adjustment heuristics are also a common method used by people inthe different situation. People use it when they have some guidinginformation that they can adjust and arrive at the best decision. Thesmall leads that people get regarding the soundness of a decision maybe very practical when joined. It is like the primary method ofstarting from the known to the unknown. For example, some challengingsituation involving questions like when a certain president tookoffice may be solvable using this approach (Dietrich, 2012).

Forexample, the question of when John Kennedy took office may bedifficult to answer since it requires an exact date. One may not knowthe exact date, but he may know the time when assassins took hislife. The knowledge of one date is the anchor from which a person canbuild. From this information, one can cold down extracting the numberof years Kennedy reigned and arrived at the year of assuming office. Adjusting the information leads to the correct answer. However, someanchors may involve taking long routes of information before reachingthe actual answer. For example, one may not arrive at the exact dateof Kennedy taking office by he may arrive at the correct year. Itimplies that this method may not perfect decisions that people arriveat, but their conclusions will settle around the most favorabledecision.

Inconclusion, decision making is a complex process that involves a lotof factors to consider. People may use different heuristics to makesettlements. Sometimes, people may use more than one approach toarrive at the most appropriate decision.


Dietrich,C. (2012). Decision making: Factors that Influence Decision Making,Heuristics use and Decision Outcomes. Student’sPulse.2 (02), 1-8.

Gigerenzer,G., &amp Gaissmaier, W. (2011). Heuristic decision making. Annualreview of psychology,62,451-482.

Zsambok,C. E., &amp Klein, G. (2014). Naturalisticdecision making.Psychology Press: New York.