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Making Good Decisions with Minimal Information: Simultaneous and Sequential Choice

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  • Thomas Dudey

    ()

  • Peter Todd

    ()

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    Abstract

    The adaptive pressures facing humans and other animals to make decisions quickly can be met both by increasing internal information-processing speed and by minimizing the amount of information to be used. Here we focus on the latter effect and ask how, and how well, agents can make good decisions with a minimal amount of information, using two specific tasks as examples. When a choice must be made between simultaneously-available options, minimal information in the form of binary recognition (whether or not each item is recognized) can be used in the recognition heuristic to choose effectively. When options are encountered sequentially one at a time, minimal information as to whether or not each option is the best encountered so far is sufficient to guide agents using a simple search-cutoff rule to high performance along several choice criteria. Both of these examples have important economic as well as biological applications, and show the power of simple fast and frugal heuristics to produce good decisions with little information. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1023/A:1020542800376
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Bioeconomics.

    Volume (Year): 3 (2001)
    Issue (Month): 2 (May)
    Pages: 195-215

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:jbioec:v:3:y:2001:i:2:p:195-215

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    Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=103315

    Related research

    Keywords: individual decision making; ecological rationality; information search; recognition heuristic; sequential search; secretary problem; dowry problem; optimal stopping; cutoff rule; heuristic; search; simulation;

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    1. Schotter, Andrew & Braunstein, Yale M, 1981. "Economic Search: An Experimental Study," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 19(1), pages 1-25, January.
    2. Gigerenzer, Gerd & Todd, Peter M. & ABC Research Group,, 2000. "Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195143812.
    3. Vriend, Nicolaas J., 1996. "Rational behavior and economic theory," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 263-285, March.
    4. George J. Stigler, 1961. "The Economics of Information," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 69, pages 213.
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    Cited by:
    1. Werner Güth & Ev Martin & Torsten Weiland, 2006. "Aspiration formation and satisficing in isolated and competitive search," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2006-26, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.

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