IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Bounded rationality in problem solving: Guiding search with domain-independent heuristics


  • Pat Langley


  • Chris Pearce
  • Mike Barley
  • Miranda Emery


Humans exhibit the remarkable ability to solve complex, multi-step problems despite their limited capacity for search. We review the standard theory of problem solving, which posits that heuristic guidance makes this possible, but we also note that most studies have emphasized the role of domain-specific heuristics, which are not available for unfamiliar tasks, over more general ones. We describe FPS, a flexible architecture for problem solving that supports a variety of different strategies and heuristics, and we report its use in an experiment that studies the effectiveness of two domain-independent criteria. The results suggest that such heuristics can make problem solving far more tractable, and they are generally consistent with our claim that their use offsets the drawbacks of bounded rationality. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Pat Langley & Chris Pearce & Mike Barley & Miranda Emery, 2014. "Bounded rationality in problem solving: Guiding search with domain-independent heuristics," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 13(1), pages 83-95, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:minsoc:v:13:y:2014:i:1:p:83-95
    DOI: 10.1007/s11299-014-0143-y

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:minsoc:v:13:y:2014:i:1:p:83-95. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.