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Making Good Decisions with Minimal Information: Simultaneous and Sequential Choice


  • Thomas Dudey


  • Peter Todd



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

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Dudey & Peter Todd, 2001. "Making Good Decisions with Minimal Information: Simultaneous and Sequential Choice," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 195-215, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbioec:v:3:y:2001:i:2:p:195-215
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1020542800376

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gigerenzer, Gerd & Todd, Peter M. & ABC Research Group,, 2000. "Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195143812.
    2. Schotter, Andrew & Braunstein, Yale M, 1981. "Economic Search: An Experimental Study," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 19(1), pages 1-25, January.
    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 213-213.
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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.
    2. Peter S. Riefer & Bradley C. Love, 2015. "Unfazed by Both the Bull and Bear: Strategic Exploration in Dynamic Environments," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(3), pages 1-11, August.
    3. Burmeister, Katrin & Schade, Christian, 2007. "Are entrepreneurs' decisions more biased? An experimental investigation of the susceptibility to status quo bias," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 340-362, May.


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