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The recognition heuristic: A decade of research

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Abstract:

The recognition heuristic exploits the basic psychological capacity for recognition in order to make inferences about unknown quantities in the world. In this article, we review and clarify issues that emerged from our initial work (Goldstein and Gigerenzer, 1999, 2002), including the distinction between a recognition and an evaluation process. There is now considerable evidence that (i) the recognition heuristic predicts the inferences of a substantial proportion of individuals consistently, even in the presence of one or more contradicting cues, (ii) people are adaptive decision makers in that accordance increases with larger recognition validity and decreases in situations when the validity is low or wholly indeterminable, and (iii) in the presence of contradicting cues, some individuals appear to select different strategies. Little is known about these individual differences, or how to precisely model the alternative strategies. Although some researchers have attributed judgments inconsistent with the use of the recognition heuristic to compensatory processing, little research on such compensatory models has been reported. We discuss extensions of the recognition model, open questions, unanticipated results, and the surprising predictive power of recognition in forecasting.

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