Intuitive and Deliberate Judgments Are Based on Common Principles

Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Psychological Review (Impact Factor: 7.97). 07/2011; 118(1):97-109. DOI: 10.1037/a0020762
Source: PubMed
A popular distinction in cognitive and social psychology has been between intuitive and deliberate judgments. This juxtaposition has aligned in dual-process theories of reasoning associative, unconscious, effortless, heuristic, and suboptimal processes (assumed to foster intuitive judgments) versus rule-based, conscious, effortful, analytic, and rational processes (assumed to characterize deliberate judgments). In contrast, we provide convergent arguments and evidence for a unified theoretical approach to both intuitive and deliberative judgments. Both are rule-based, and in fact, the very same rules can underlie both intuitive and deliberate judgments. The important open question is that of rule selection, and we propose a 2-step process in which the task itself and the individual's memory constrain the set of applicable rules, whereas the individual's processing potential and the (perceived) ecological rationality of the rule for the task guide the final selection from that set. Deliberate judgments are not generally more accurate than intuitive judgments; in both cases, accuracy depends on the match between rule and environment: the rules' ecological rationality. Heuristics that are less effortful and in which parts of the information are ignored can be more accurate than cognitive strategies that have more information and computation. The proposed framework adumbrates a unified approach that specifies the critical dimensions on which judgmental situations may vary and the environmental conditions under which rules can be expected to be successful.


Available from: Arie W Kruglanski
Intuitive and Deliberate Judgments Are Based on Common Principles
Arie W. Kruglanski
University of Maryland
Gerd Gigerenzer
Max Planck Institute for Human Development
A popular distinction in cognitive and social psychology has been between intuitive and deliberate judgments.
This juxtaposition has aligned in dual-process theories of reasoning associative, unconscious, effortless,
heuristic, and suboptimal processes (assumed to foster intuitive judgments) versus rule-based, conscious,
effortful, analytic, and rational processes (assumed to characterize deliberate judgments). In contrast, we
provide convergent arguments and evidence for a unified theoretical approach to both intuitive and deliber-
ative judgments. Both are rule-based, and in fact, the very same rules can underlie both intuitive and deliberate
judgments. The important open question is that of rule selection, and we propose a 2-step process in which
the task itself and the individual’s memory constrain the set of applicable rules, whereas the individual’s
processing potential and the (perceived) ecological rationality of the rule for the task guide the final selection
from that set. Deliberate judgments are not generally more accurate than intuitive judgments; in both cases,
accuracy depends on the match between rule and environment: the rules’ ecological rationality. Heuristics that
are less effortful and in which parts of the information are ignored can be more accurate than cognitive
strategies that have more information and computation. The proposed framework adumbrates a unified
approach that specifies the critical dimensions on which judgmental situations may vary and the environmental
conditions under which rules can be expected to be successful.
Keywords: unimodel, heuristics, intuitive judgments, deliberate judgments, dual-systems models
At times, people’s judgments seem intuitive: They come to mind
quickly and effortlessly, seemingly popping out of nowhere, with-
out much conscious awareness of their origins or of the manner of
their formation. Other judgments seem deliberate: They arise from
a lengthy and painstaking thought process that is transparent and
accessible to awareness. These two types of judgments have been
treated separately in the cognitive sciences, with analytic philos-
ophy, economics, and decision theory focused on deliberate, re-
flective decisions and psychoanalysis and social psychology deal-
ing also with intuitive, spontaneous behavior. Following this
division of labor among disciplines, psychologists have proposed
that the mind is similarly divided. Over the last 3 decades, a
considerable number of models have been premised on the as-
sumption that judgments can be formed via two qualitatively
distinct processes or systems.
Such dual-systems models charac-
terized intuitive and deliberate judgments in terms of several,
presumably aligned, aspects: Intuitive judgments have been as-
sumed to be associative, quick, unconscious, effortless, heuristic,
and error-prone. Deliberative judgments have been assumed to be
rule based, slow, conscious, effortful, analytic, and rational. The
claims for the existence of two separate systems (or processes)
judgment were buttressed by a variety of empirical findings inter-
preted in support of the dualistic distinction (for reviews see
Evans, 2008; Kruglanski & Orehek, 2007).
Though the dualistic paradigm has enjoyed considerable popu-
larity in social cognition, judgment, and decision-making domains
(e.g., Chaiken & Trope, 1999; Epstein, Lipson, Holstein, & Huh,
1992; Kahneman, 2003; Sloman, 1996; Strack & Deutsch, 2004),
A distinction is sometimes drawn between dual-process and dual-
system formulations (e.g., Gawronski & Bodenhausen, 2006; Kruglanski &
Orehek, 2007). The dual-process formulations were typically domain spe-
cific (e.g., pertaining to the domain of persuasion or attribution), whereas
the dual-system models were more general and assumed to apply across
domains. Also, the dual-process formulations were information focused;
they typically coordinated the proposed dual processes to two separate
information classes (e.g., peripheral cues vs. message arguments, social
categories vs. personality attributes). The dual-systems models typically
purported to be process-focused and were somewhat less concerned with
informational inputs. The terms dual modes and dual routes have also been
used, and these various terms have also been treated interchangeably by
some authors (for discussion see Keren & Schul, 2009). All dualistic
models, however, regardless of type, draw a qualitative distinction between
judgment formation that is accomplished easily and quickly and one that is
slow, extensive, and arduous.
However, the Strack and Deutsch (2004) reflective–impulsive model
does align both systematic and heuristic reasoning with processes in the
reflective system and juxtaposes these to associative processes in the
impulsive system.
Arie W. Kruglanski, Department of Psychology, University of Mary-
land; Gerd Gigerenzer, Max Planck Institute for Human Development,
Berlin, Germany.
This article was written when Arie W. Kruglanski was visiting the Max
Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin as guest of the Gerd
Gigerenzer. We are indebted to Michele Gelfand and Tory Higgins for
comments on a draft and to Garriy Shteynberg for assistance in the
preparation of this article.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Arie W.
Kruglanski, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College
Park, MD 20742. E-mail:
Psychological Review © 2011 American Psychological Association
2011, Vol. 118, No. 1, 97–109 0033-295X/11/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0020762
Page 1
it has not gone unchallenged (e.g., Gigerenzer, 2009; Gigerenzer &
Regier, 1996; Kruglanski, Erb, Pierro, Mannetti, & Chun, 2006;
Osman, 2004). Recently, Keren and Schul (2009) offered a par-
ticularly detailed and incisive critique of the dual-systems theories.
They noted that contrary to the dualistic premises, (a) dimensions
assumed to distinguish the two systems (e.g., judgmental speed,
ease, or resource-dependence) are continuous rather than dichoto-
(b) these dimensions are unaligned rather than aligned,
and (c) the dimensions fail the isolability requirement that the
putative separate systems of judgment operate independently of
each other.
In concluding their critique, Keren and Schul (2009, p. 546)
urged judgment and decision making researchers to explore “the
natural compliment of dual-systems theories, namely, a uni-
model.” Accordingly, in the present note, we sketch a unified
theory of judgment intended as a general alternative to the dualistic
paradigm. This theory represents a convergence of our separate
research programs and their potential integration: Kruglanski’s
unimodel work is complemented by Gigerenzer’s work on heuris-
tics (their function, origins, and ecological rationality); the latter is
extended by the unimodel’s emphasis on individual and situational
differences in motivation and cognitive resources as these interact
with judgmental task demands. Our theory is unified in its focus on
features that different instances of judgment share. These common
features include cues, processing by rules, selection of a rule, and
(perceived) ecological rationality of rules.
As a preview of what is to come, we first outline our framework
and discuss its properties, including questions of rule selection and
ecological rationality. We show how the present approach affords
an alternative interpretation of findings adduced in support of the
dual-system and dual-process models and how it enables novel
predictions, corroborated in specific studies.
A Sketch for a Unified Theory of Judgment
1. Judgments called intuitive and deliberative are both based on
rules. These rules can be of the optimizing or satisficing (heuristic)
kind. Moreover, intuitive and deliberative judgments need not be
based on different rules: The very same rules can underlie both.
2. There exists a rule selection problem for both intuitive and
deliberative judgments. How do individuals select a rule from their
adaptive toolbox for a given problem? We argue that there are (at
least) four factors involved: The task itself and individual memory
constrain the set of applicable rules, whereas individual processing
potential and (perceived) ecological rationality of the rule, given
the task, guide the final selection from that set.
3. When two or more rules have nearly equal ecological ratio-
nality, rule conflict may occur. In such case, proper application of
a given rule may suffer interference from other competing rules.
4. Rules are based on core cognitive capacities, such as recog-
nition memory. Individual differences in these capacities, trait or
state, influence the speed and the accuracy with which a rule is
executed. Moreover, the same factors also impact the selection of
rules for a given task. Thus, there is no general relation between
the type of rule and its difficulty of application. Rules typically
characterized as intuitive (e.g., heuristics based on learned stereo-
types) may be easy or difficult to apply, depending on their degree
of routinization and their momentary accessibility, so may rules
considered deliberative (e.g., rules of logic or mathematics).
5. There is a reciprocal relation between the difficulty of rule
application and individuals’ processing potential: The greater such
difficulty, the more processing potential is needed for application.
Consequently, when processing potential is limited, only easy-to-
apply rules will mediate judgments. In contrast, when processing
potential is high, both easy and difficult rules will be considered
and selected in accordance with their (perceived) ecological ratio-
6. The accuracy of both deliberate and intuitive judgments
depends on the ecological rationality of the rule for the given class
of problems. Accordingly, more complex rules are not necessarily
more accurate than simpler ones, nor are statistical rules necessar-
ily more accurate than heuristic rules.
In the subsequent sections, we examine the various features of our
proposed framework in some detail.
Intuitive and Deliberative Judgments Are Rule Based
The Rule Concept
By rules, we mean inferential devices for categorization, esti-
mation, paired comparisons, and other judgmental tasks that go
beyond the information given. The rule concept denotes an if–then
relation of the type if (cues) then (judgment). The rule-based
manufacture of judgments can be thought of as syllogistic. The
rule itself constitutes the major premise. Rule instantiation can be
thought of as the minor premise; it affords the application of the
preexisting rule to a specific judgmental context. The if–then
relation between cue and judgment can be probabilistic (McGuire,
1960; Wyer, 1970). In other words, the rule might affirm that if
cue, or given combination of cues (X), appears then judgment (Y)
is indicated with a given probability.
Some rules constitute explicit algorithms that are consciously ap-
plied; others constitute implicit, unconsciously applied associations;
and yet others have been described as retrieval based (Logan, 1988;
Rickard, Sin-Heng, & Pashler, 2008) or instance based (Medin &
Ross, 1989), and so on. We recognize that all these mechanisms differ
in numerous ways. Yet for our purpose of depicting the essential
process of judgment, what matters is the conditional, if–then link
generally embodied by such devices.
Our suggestion that judgments are rule based is not unique.
Other authors, across diverse domains of psychology and cognitive
science, have been making similar proposals (for a review see, e.g.,
Hahn & Chater, 1998). Rule following has been assumed to play
a key role in linguistic behavior (e.g., Chomsky, 1986), animal
learning (e.g., Rescorla & Holland, 1982), and perceptual phenom-
ena (e.g., Rock, 1983), among others. Examples from the latter two
domains illustrate the ubiquity of rule-based judgments.
Indeed, even if the dual-systems/dual-process model offered a weaker
version of their position and assumed the (obviously) continuous nature of
such characteristics, they would still need to define meaningful cutoff
points on the relevant continua, a task never seriously undertaken.
Moreover, even if meaningful cut-offs were defined, assuming six
dichotomies, one would end up with a 2
64 cell matrix of which only
two cells (those representing the conjunction of all six dichotomies) had
entries. Again, such logical implication of the alignment assumption has
never been considered seriously or tested empirically.
Page 2
Perceptual Inferences
Hardly anything can be considered more intuitive or automatic
than the visual illusions to which the human eye falls prey. Yet,
students of perception have compellingly argued that these are
based on (hard-wired) propositional rules that our brain uses.
Consider Figure 1. The dots on its left appear concave; they recede
into the surface and away from the observer. In contrast, the dots
on the right of the figure seem convex; they appear to bulge and
extend toward the observer. Intriguingly, these appearances re-
verse when the page is turned upside down. Now, the previously
concave dots appear convex and vice versa. What explains these
effects? The visual illusion appears to be based on an inferential
rule that bets on two properties of the environments (Kleffner &
Ramachandran, 1992).
The brain assumes a three-dimensional world and uses the
shaded parts of the dots to guess in what direction of the third
dimension they extend. To make a good guess, the brain assumes
1. Light comes from above (in relation to retinal coordi-
2. There is only one source of light.
These two structures describe human (and mammalian) history,
when the sun and the moon were the only sources of light, and only
one operated at a time. The brain exploits these assumed structures
by using a simple rule of thumb: If the shade is in the upper part
then the dots recede into the surface; if the shade is in the lower
part then the dots project up from the surface.
This visual illusion illustrates that unconscious, fast, and effort-
less intuitive processes can follow rules, specifically heuristic
rules. It also illustrates that the rationality of the rule is ecological;
that is, it resides in the match between rule and environment. If
there is a three-dimensional world with the two properties de-
scribed, the rule leads to good inferences; however, if this is not
the case, as in the two-dimensional picture in Figure 1, the rule
leads to a visual illusion. Systematic errors that are due to a
reasonable bet on the environment but that fail due to specific,
unexpected circumstances are “good” errors. Our point is that good
errors are characteristic of every intelligent system (Gigerenzer,
2005). Intelligence means to take risks and to make bets or, to use
a phrase of Jerome Bruner (1973), to go beyond the information
The idea that even the most basic perceptual judgments are rule
based receives support from research in psychophysics (Pizlo,
2001). Whereas Fechner (1860/1966) posited that the percept is a
result of a causal chain of events emanating from the object,
subsequent approaches provided evidence that the percept involves
an unconscious inference (Helmholtz, 1910/2000) from an associ-
ated bundles of sensations. An approach recently developed within
the computer vision community treats perception as the solution of
an inverse
problem that depends critically on innate constraints,
or rules, for interpreting proximal stimuli (e.g., the retinal images).
According to this view “perception is about inferring [emphasis
added] the properties of the distal stimulus X given the proximal
stimulus Y” (Pizlo, 2001, p. 3146). Finally, in a recent Annual
Review of Psychology article, the investigators treated object per-
ception as a visual inference problem and proposed that “the visual
system resolves ambiguity through built in knowledge of . . . how
retinal images are formed and uses this knowledge to automati-
cally and unconsciously infer [emphasis added] the properties of
objects” (Kersten, Mamoassian, & Yuille, 2004, p. 273).
Associative Processes
Investigators in domains of classical and evaluative condition-
ing have agreed that rules play a key role in these patently
associative processes. This notion was originally advanced by
Edward Tolman (1932) in his sign learning theory of classical
conditioning, a paradigmatic example of associative learning. In
Tolman’s theory, the conditioning procedure sets up an expectancy
that a given sign or cue will be followed by some event (or
significate). Such expectancy has been thought to represent a
conditional rule of the if–then variety. Contemporary theorists of
classical conditioning concur in that conclusion (Holyoak, Koh, &
Nisbett, 1989; Rescorla, 1985; Rescorla & Wagner, 1972). The
same assessment was reached with regard to evaluative condition-
ing, which consists of associating a valenced unconditioned stim-
ulus (say, a smiling face) with a neutral conditioned stimulus (say,
a neutral face). “We find clear support for the role of propositional
process in learning. In stark contrast, little unambiguous support is
found for an automatic link formation mechanism” (Mitchell,
DeHouwer, & Lovibond, 2009, p. 185).
Rule Following or Rule Conforming?
An important distinction in cognitive science has been between
rule following, and rule conforming behavior (Chomsky, 1986;
Hahn & Chater, 1998; Marcus, Brinkman, Clahsen, Wiese, &
Pinker, 1995). Phenomena describable by rules need not reflect
rule following, in that the latter, but not necessarily the former,
involves mental representation of the input and output classes and
of the conditional relation between them. For instance, an apple
falling to the ground displays a rule-describable behavior charac-
terized by Newton’s laws, yet the apple obviously does not possess
a mental representation of laws of any kind. In contrast, authentic
rule following is exhibited by the behavior of an individual who
decides to get out of bed on the sound of her alarm clock. In this
case, the person has mental representation of the alarm, and its
significance: Simply, she or he is following a rule whereby if the
alarm sounds, it is time to get up.
Inverse in the sense that the proximal stimulus (e.g., the retinal image)
originally produced by the distal stimulus is now used to decode such
stimulus, going backward as it were.
Figure 1. Unconscious inferences by a simple heuristic: convex and
concave perceptions as function of shading.
Page 3
Our conception of judgment formation clearly refers to rule
following rather than to rule conforming.
Unlike the rigid nature
of rule conforming, rule following can be flexible and varied.
Depending on their current degree of accessibility (Higgins, 1996),
rules can be primed or activated from memory (D. G. Smith,
Standing, & deMan, 1992). Rules are potentially malleable; they
can be learned and unlearned; they can be forgotten and retrieved.
None of these characteristics applies to rule conforming, in which
the entity in question behaves as a passive object at mercy of
external forces whose specific characteristics it neither registers
nor recognizes.
We assume that the formation of both intuitive and deliberative
judgments reflects rule following. Indeed, we suggest that exam-
ples of specific deliberative and intuitive judgments juxtaposed in
the dual-systems literature often involved the operation of different
rules (i.e., rules of different contents). Judgments characterized as
deliberative have been often linked to statistical or logical rules
(e.g., Kahneman, 2003; Kahneman & Tversky, 1973). Judgments
classified as intuitive have been linked to different rules, for
example, stereotypic rules about characteristics of different pro-
fessions (e.g., lawyers and engineers); rules related to source
characteristics, such as expertise; rules related to the ease with
which instances of a category come to mind; and rules based on the
fluency experience. For instance, Kahneman (2003, p. 699) clas-
sified as intuitive the various heuristics that people use (e.g., the
representativeness heuristic or the availability heuristic). Yet heu-
ristics have been generally defined as rules of thumb, displaying a
propositional structure. In fact, Kahneman (2003, p. 699) himself
asserted that the extensional (i.e., analytic) and prototypical (i.e.,
representativeness based, or intuitive) judgments are “governed by
characteristically different logical rules [emphasis added],” sug-
gesting that both judgmental processes are rule based. In this vein,
too, Osman (2004, p. 1001) concluded from studies on tutoring
aimed to increase people’s use of the conjunction rule (when such
rule was deemed appropriate) that such increases “occur when
participants supplement one type of rule-based [emphasis added]
reasoning . . . for another.”
Intuitive and Deliberative Judgments Can Be
Based on the Same Rules
Inferential rules come in a wide variety of contents and can be
stated at different levels of generality. A key distinction is between
optimizing and satisficing (heuristic) rules. Bayes’ rule and the
maximization of expected utility are examples of optimizing rules,
whereas Table 1 gives 10 examples of heuristic rules (see Giger-
enzer & Brighton, 2009). Unlike Bayes’ rule, a heuristic is a rule
that ignores part of the information and does not attempt to
calculate the maximum or minimum of a function. Optimizing
rules, such as Bayes’ rule and Neyman-Pearson decision theory
(also known as signal detection theory) have been proposed for
both intuitive and deliberative judgments (Gigerenzer & Murray,
1987). Similarly, each of the ten heuristics in Table 1 can underlie
both intuitive and deliberate judgments, when deliberate denotes
judgments rendered with forethought and cognitive effort. Thus,
intuitive judgments not only are based on rules but also can be
based on the very same rules as deliberate judgments.
Consider first the recognition heuristic that can be highly suc-
cessful if there is a correlation between recognition and criterion in
the environment. Based on Adaptive Control of Thought–Rational
theory (ACT-R; Anderson, 1983), the recognition process is de-
scribed by if–then rules, and the recognition heuristic is another
rule that exploits this process (Schooler & Hertwig, 2005). The
process of recognition is clearly not a deliberate one, and reliance
on the recognition heuristic is often also not deliberate, but both
reaction time and functional magnetic resonance imaging studies
suggest that it could be a default setting of the brain (Pachur &
Hertwig, 2006; Volz et al., 2006). Yet, the same heuristic can also
be used deliberately, for instance, as a strategy for investing in
stocks suggested by analyst Peter Lynch and tested by Ortmann,
Gigerenzer, Borges, and Goldstein (2008) or as a strategy for
predicting the outcomes of sports events. In this vein, deliberate
reliance on mere name recognition could predict the winners of the
128 Wimbledon Gentleman Singles matches as well as or better
than relying on official statistics such as the Association of Tennis
Professionals (ATP) rankings and as good as or better than the
seeding of the Wimbledon experts (Scheibehenne & Bröder, 2007;
Serwe & Frings, 2006). These results demonstrate that heuristics
need not be linked to automatic, intuitive processing or to error-
prone judgments. More information about this is provided later.
The same argument can be made for each of the other heuristics,
to different degrees. The fluency heuristic may represent the case
in which it is rather rare that people rely deliberately on what came
first to mind, but such cases may exist, for instance, when a person
requesting advice for a choice between A and B is impressed by
how quickly the responder answered A and takes this speed as
clear evidence for A. The take-the-best heuristic is relied on both
intuitively (Bröder, 2003; Rieskamp & Otto, 2006) and deliber-
ately when designing decision systems without trade offs. Delib-
erate use may occur for reasons of simplicity and transparency,
which in turn increases safety and a feeling of justice. For instance,
the contest rules of the International Federation of Football Asso-
ciations rely on the take-the-best heuristic to decide which teams in
a group can move ahead. The cues are ordered (total points,
difference in number of goals, etc.), and decisions are made
sequentially, without trade offs. The same type of rule governs
right-of-way in traffic (police officer’s hand signs, traffic light,
In cognitive science, a debate has ensued on whether human reasoning
is based on rules or similarities (between specific instances of experienced
events). Hahn and Chater (1998) have offered a comprehensive analysis of
arguments on both sides of this issue, suggesting, “Possibly, these two
classes are too broad to allow an overall empirical assessment” (p. 199).
These authors also argued that the ample evidence adduced for the rule
conception could be alternatively interpreted in terms of the similarity
conception and vice versa. It is not our intention to enter here into this
intricate debate. Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that both similarity and
rule-based notions assume a mental representation of stimuli by the judging
individual; hence, both fall outside the purview of mere rule conforming
phenomena (Hahn & Chater, 1998). Furthermore, both imply a mentally
represented input to output function. In that sense then, both assume a
conditional if–then relation between input and output representations.
Similarity determination, for instance, has entailments. A given degree of
perceived similarity is informative; it goes beyond the information given
and brings forth certain implications. Whereas the rule versus similarity
debate is not presently resolvable, we find the rule-based formulation to be
based on considerable data, as well as consistent with common experience
and broadly plausible. Consequently, we adopt it in our analysis and
explore its implications.
Page 4
traffic sign, etc.), to which people apply it purposely to increase
safety (Gigerenzer, 2007).
Tallying is relied on both intuitively, typically only by a small
proportion of people (e.g., Bröder, 2003), and deliberately, in
designing unit-weighted scoring systems for IQ tests and in dem-
ocratic elections systems in which every voter has the same vote.
The equality heuristic, or 1/N, has been used to describe how
parents intuitively allocate their love, time, and attention to their
children (Hertwig, Davis, & Sulloway, 2002) and share windfall
money in the ultimatum game (Takezawa, Gummerum, & Keller,
2006) and how professional and lay investors deliberately try to
diversify and reduce risk (DeMiguel, Garlappi, & Uppal, 2009). A
person who relies on the default heuristic ignores all information
concerning an issue, such as organ donation, and just follows the
legal default, which appears to be the major factor in the strikingly
different rates of potential organ donors between countries (John-
son & Goldstein, 2003). Finally, imitation rules are known to be
relied on automatically, as research on children testifies (Toma-
sello, 2000), and thoughtfully and purposefully, as in educational
training in which children are instructed to copy, from drawing
letters to skills in sports (Boyd & Richerson, 2005).
In summary, we argue that intuitive and deliberative judgments
are both based on rules and can even be based on exactly the same
rules. The important question for research is what these heuristics
are, when are they applied, and in which situations they are
Where Do Rules Come From?
Rules and the appropriate situations for their use can be acquired
through personal experience, social development, and accultura-
tion. This applies to both intuitive and deliberate judgments. We
assume that every rule exploits core capacities and that the specific
capacities determine the set of rules a species or an individual can
execute in a reliable way.
Evolved Core Capacities
We use the term core capacity to designate an ability for which
a species has the potential, enabled by its genes, although the
individual typically needs to exercise this potential in order to
express and master it. One example is long-term memory, which
the human genome enables, but which the individual can master to
various levels of competence, as illustrated by the stunning ability
to recite long poems and sagas in oral traditions compared with the
relative loss of this capacity in modern societies.
To execute a rule properly, an organism needs specific evolved
capacities. This holds for rules in animals and humans alike
(Hutchinson & Gigerenzer, 2005). Because humans and animals
have common ancestry and related sensory and motor processes,
they share common core capacities, which are exploited by com-
mon rules. For instance, ball players of various sorts (e.g., a
baseball outfielder, or a cricket player) rely on simple rules to
catch a ball. The simplest is the gaze heuristic, which works if the
fly ball is high up in the air: Fix your gaze on the ball, start
running, and adjust the running speed so that the angle of gaze
remains constant (see Gigerenzer, 2007). This heuristic ignores all
the information necessary for computing the trajectory of the ball.
The same heuristic is applied by various animal species to catch a
prey. In pursuit and predation, bats, birds, and dragonflies maintain
a constant optical angle between themselves and their prey, as do
dogs when catching a Frisbee (Shaffer, Krauchunas, Eddy, &
McBeath, 2004). Among the core capacities needed for this heu-
ristic is the ability to track visually moving objects against a noisy
background, an ability no robot has today as well as a human being
or a dog.
The same evolved capacity is needed when the rule is used in
(what has been described as) an intuitive way or a deliberate way.
For instance, sailors are taught to rely on the gaze heuristic
deliberately when they fear that another boat is on a collision
course: Fixate your eye on the other boat, and if the optical angle
Table 1
Ten Heuristics That Are Likely in the Adaptive Toolbox of Humans
Heuristic Definition
Recognition heuristic: Goldstein & Gigerenzer (2002) If one of two alternatives is recognized, infer that it has the higher value on
the criterion.
Fluency heuristic: Jacoby & Dallas (1981); Schooler & Hertwig
If both alternatives are recognized but one is recognized faster, infer that it has
the higher value on the criterion.
Take-the-best: Gigerenzer & Goldstein (1996) To infer which of two alternatives has the higher value, (a) search through
cues in order of validity, (b) stop search as soon as a cue discriminates, and
(c) choose the alternative this cue favors.
Tallying: Unit-weight linear model, Dawes, 1979 To estimate a criterion, do not estimate weights, but simply count the number
of positive cues.
Satisficing: Simon (1955); Todd & Miller (1999) Search through alternatives, and choose the first one that exceeds your
aspiration level.
1/N; equality heuristic: DeMiguel et al. (2009) Allocate resources equally to each of N alternatives.
Default heuristic: Johnson & Goldstein (2003); Pichert &
Katsikopoulos (2008) If there is a default, do nothing.
Tit-for-tat: Axelrod (1984) Cooperate first, and then imitate your partner’s last behavior.
Imitate the majority: Boyd & Richerson (2005) Consider the majority of people in your peer group, and imitate their behavior.
Imitate the successful: Boyd & Richerson (2005) Consider the most successful person, and imitate his or her behavior.
Note. Each heuristic can underlie both intuitive and deliberate judgments.
Page 5
remains constant, change course because otherwise a collision will
occur. Similarly, whether one of the heuristics in Table 1 is used
consciously or unconsciously, the core capacities needed appear to
be exactly the same. These include recall memory, recognition
memory, and the ability to imitate the behavior of others.
Rule Acquisition
Experience. Personal experience constitutes an important
source of rule acquisition. Individuals learn to associate specific
cues with specific states of affairs so that when a cue is registered,
the state of affairs is inferred. For instance, a child may learn that
snow is cold (if snow then cold), that water is wet, and that
disobeying one’s parents results in punishment. In conditioning
work, the conditional link between the stimulus (the cue) and the
response (the criterial judgment) may be established through a
pairing of the stimulus and the response, followed by a reinforce-
ment (in the instrumental learning paradigm) of the conditioned
stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus (in the classical learning
paradigm; Holyoak et al., 1989), and so on.
Social development. Kruglanski et al. (2005) described how
in the course of social development the child acquires rules that
link given social sources with given types of knowledge, bestow-
ing on them epistemic authority. Initially the child tends to ascribe
epistemic authority to adult caretakers, primarily the parents, in all
domains of activity exemplifying the if parent (says so) then it is
correct rule. This is gradually replaced by distinctions among
domains and ascription of differential epistemic authority to dif-
ferent sources (teachers, peers, one’s self).
Source rules. Source rules bestowing epistemic authority on
given agents may lend them the powers to instruct and enable them
to act as teachers and tutors. In this vein, Osman (2004, pp.
997–998) reviewed tutoring studies in which participants’ logical
thinking in Wason’s (1968) selection task improved considerably
as a result of their being taught the pertinent logical rules. Accord-
ing to Osman (2004, p. 998), “large improvements in performance
are the result of clarifying the task requirements,” that is, getting
participants to attend to the correct cues and to apply the appro-
priate rules in relevant task contexts.
Acculturation. Numerous inference rules are learned via so-
cialization into a given culture (Chiu & Hong, 2006). For instance,
stereotypes (e.g., related to gender, race, age, ethnic group or
profession) are rules concerning properties implied by given cat-
egory memberships. Beliefs that an engineer is likely to be inter-
ested in mechanical toys and mathematical puzzles or that a lawyer
is articulate and well dressed (both cited in studies of the repre-
sentativeness heuristic) are acquired through immersion in the
specific shared reality of one’s group that subscribes to these
notions. Schooling and academic training impart to the students a
variety of rules concerning the properties of things and the impli-
cations of concepts, including the rules of statistics and other
formal disciplines. Thus, the same processes of rule acquisition
pertain to rules depicted as intuitive and those depicted as delib-
Routinization of Rules: Deliberation Becomes Intuitive
It has been long known that automatic phenomena involve a
routinization of if–then sequences. A novice piano player may be
engaged in a highly controlled, attention-demanding activity that
following the “rules” of music requires, yet the accomplished
concert pianist may follow those same rules without much con-
scious awareness. The notion that social judgments represent a
special case of procedural learning (Anderson, 1983), based on
practice that strengthens the if–then connections, has been gener-
ally accepted in the social cognition literature (cf. Bargh, 1996;
Neal, Wood, & Quinn, 2006; E. R. Smith & Branscombe, 1988).
Music and sports are examples about how skills are learned in a
deliberate fashion but at some point become intuitive; that is,
attention is no longer directed to the movements and people cannot
explain how they do what they do. As a consequence of this
transition, when experienced golf players were instructed to pay
attention to the sequence of movements in their swing, their
performance decreased, although the same intervention increased
the accuracy of novices (Beilock, Bertenthal, McCoy, & Carr,
2004; Beilock, Carr, MacMahon, & Starkes, 2002). Similarly, the
judgments of experienced handball players were better when they
had no time to think than when they could inspect a game scene for
45 s (Johnson & Raab, 2003). In general, many, but not all, skills
are learned deliberately and then become intuitive or turn into gut
feelings. There are, however, exceptions when a skill is learned by
observation rather than by instruction, and the nature of the skill,
the cues and rules, are never represented in language (Gigerenzer,
2007). The transition from deliberate to intuitive rules is a valuable
process given that attention is a scarce resource. In the words of
Alfred North Whitehead:
It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy-books and by
eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should
cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise
opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of
operations which we can perform without thinking about them” (cited
in Egidi & Marengo, 2004, p. 335).
Some Principles of Rule Selection
Consideration Set of Rules
Unlike the hardwired rules that mediate perceptual inferences,
rules that mediate higher cognitive judgments are typically se-
lected from a rule set in the individual’s adaptive toolbox (Giger-
enzer & Selten, 2001). We propose that such selection follows a
two-step process: First, the task and individual memory constrain
the set of applicable rules, resulting in a consideration set, and
second, difficulty of instantiation, individual processing potential,
and (perceived) ecological rationality of the rule guide the final
choice of a rule from that set.
Task type constrains the consideration set of rules. Because
rules are specialized, not every rule can be included in the choice
set for a given task. For instance, if an individual faces a two-
alternative choice task, the first four heuristics in Table 1 are in the
choice set; the others cannot be applied (assuming there are no
other individuals present to imitate). A mathematical task may
constrain the set of rules differently for a seasoned mathematician
and a novice, so may a chess problem for a master and an amateur
player, and so on.
Memory constraints on the consideration set of rules. To be
represented in the consideration set, a rule (or major premise of the
Page 6
syllogism) needs to be accessed from memory, which can be facili-
tated by priming (Higgins, 1996). Too, the input to the rule (the minor
premise) may need memory input (Marewski & Schooler, 2010). For
instance, consider again the first four rules in Table 1. If one
alternative is recognized and the other not then the recognition
heuristic is in the choice set, but the others are not. If both are
recognized then the recognition heuristic is no longer applicable,
but the other three are. If no additional information about cue
values in this situation is obtained then the fluency heuristic
remains in the choice set, whereas if such cue knowledge is
obtained then experimental evidence suggests that take-the-best
and tallying are preferred over the fluency heuristic.
It is important that immediate memory constraints are not ab-
solute; what comes immediately to mind can be expanded by an
intensive memory search. In other words, although some rules may
be difficult to access or retrieved from memory in a given situa-
tion, they might still be accessed through an effortful attempt. Such
an attempt might be enabled if the individual possessed sufficient
processing potential, as elaborated subsequently.
Rule Selection
If the consideration set includes more than one rule, a selection
step is required, in which a given rule is chosen as a means for
reaching judgment. The first factor affecting this step is difficulty
of instantiating the rule in a specific context. Just as accessing a
rule (the syllogism’s major premise) from memory may be more or
less difficult, so may be instantiating it in given conditions, that is,
recognizing the rule-matching cue (the minor premise) in given
circumstances. Contributing to such difficulty is noisiness of the
judgmental environment and faintness of the cue, that is, a low
signal to noise ratio. Again, overcoming the difficulty requires that
the individual possess sufficient processing potential, which con-
cept is discussed next.
Processing potential. Two aspects of processing potential are
attentional capacity and processing motivation (e.g., Petty & Ca-
cioppo, 1986; Tetlock, 1985). Individuals’ attentional capacity
may be taxed by cognitive load or busyness with other matters.
Ability to focus attention may also depend on circadian rhythm
(Kruglanski & Pierro, 2008), degree of mental fatigue (Webster,
Richter, & Kruglanski, 1996), or alcoholic intoxication (Steele &
Josephs, 1990). Processing motivation is often a function of the
importance individuals assign to the judgmental task, their issue
involvement (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986), and the magnitude of their
accuracy, or accountability, goals in given circumstances (Tetlock,
1985). In addition, processing motivation is determined by indi-
viduals’ stable motivational proclivities, such as their need for
cognition (Cacioppo & Petty, 1982) or need for cognitive closure
(Kruglanski, 2004; Kruglanski, Pierro, Mannetti, & DeGrada,
2006; Kruglanski & Webster, 1996).
An individual whose attentional capacity is depleted or whose
processing motivation is low might be disinclined to conduct an
extensive memory search or to invest extensive efforts in attempts
to instantiate the rule, when this is difficult. Moreover, in such
conditions, the individual may be loathe to apply rules whose
implementation requires laborious computational analyses. Conse-
quently, individuals whose capacity or motivation are low may
base their judgments on relatively simple inferential rules rather
than on complex ones or may be less able to carefully assess the
ecological rationality of a rule, that is, to properly estimate its
validity in a given environment.
For instance, Petty, Wells, and Brock (1976) demonstrated that
under capacity-depleting conditions, individuals were less sensi-
tive to the quality of message arguments that tended to be rela-
tively lengthy and complex and, hence, difficult to process. Con-
sequently, under limited resource conditions, easy to use heuristics
were used to a greater extent than more complex inferential rules.
In this vein, Mata, Schooler, and Rieskamp (2007) reasoned that
due to age-related decline in cognitive abilities, older adults more
than younger ones would tend to use simple heuristics rather than
more cognitively demanding strategies. Consistent with this hy-
pothesis, Mata et al. (2007) found that older (vs. younger) adults
instructed to infer which of two diamonds was more expensive
tended to use the frugal take-the-best heuristic (Gigerenzer &
Goldstein, 1996) or the take-two heuristic (Dieckman &
Rieskamp, 2007) more and tended to use the more laborious
weighted additive rule less. It was also found that the higher the
magnitude of individuals’ accuracy motivation, or their need for
cognition, the greater their readiness to apply complex rules and to
digest compound information (Kruglanski & Thompson, 1999a,
1999b; Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). By contrast, the higher the
magnitude of their need for closure, the lesser their readiness to do
so and the greater their tendency to rely on simple judgmental
heuristics (Pierro, Mannetti, Erb, Spiegel, & Kruglanski, 2005).
Whereas the use of simple, easy to process heuristics may be
more likely under low resource conditions, the selection and use of
complex, laborious to apply, rules may be more likely under high
resource conditions—but only in situations in which they are more
subjectively valid, or high in perceived ecological rationality.
More information about this is provided later.
Ecological rationality. Besides processing capacity and mo-
tivation, an important factor in the selection of a rule is the
(perceived) ecological rationality of a rule for a given task. The
study of ecological rationality asks which rule will lead to a better
outcome (e.g., higher accuracy) in a given task environment. This
requires studying the match between rules and structures of envi-
ronments. For instance, the redundancy and variability of cue
weights in the environment can guide the choice between take-
the-best and tallying heuristics (Table 1). Redundancy is defined as
the correlation between cues, and variability measures the distri-
bution of the weights of cues. If redundancy and variability are
high, one can expect that take-the-best will be more accurate than
tallying; if both are low, the opposite follows (Hogarth & Karelaia,
2007). There is evidence for adaptive strategy selection (for an
early review, see Payne, Bettman, & Johnson, 1993). Dieckmann
and Rieskamp (2007) showed that in environments with high
redundancy, take-the-best is as accurate as and more frugal than
naı¨ve Bayes (a strategy that integrates all cues) and then experi-
mentally demonstrated that in high-redundancy environments,
take-the-best predicted participants’ judgments best, whereas in
low-redundancy environments, compensatory strategies predicted
best, indicating adaptive strategy selection. Rieskamp and Otto
(2006) showed that in an environment with high variability of cue
validities, judgments consistent with take-the-best increased over
experimental trials from 28% to 71%, whereas in an environment
with low variability, they decreased to 12%. Bröder (2003) re-
ported similar selection of take-the-best dependent on the variabil-
ity or cue validities. Strategy selection theory (Rieskamp & Otto,
Page 7
2006) provides a quantitative model that can be understood as a
reinforcement theory in which the unit of reinforcement is not a
behavior but a rule or a heuristic. This model allows predictions
about the probability that a person selects one rule from a set of
rules based on its perceived ecological rationality.
Rule Conflict
At times, two or more rules may appear of nearly equal ecolog-
ical rationality, creating a psychological situation of rule conflict.
In such circumstances, judgment yielded by a given rule may differ
from judgment yielded by another rule. For instance, in Asch’s
(1946) classic study, epistemic authority accorded to one’s vision
(i.e., the rule if my vision suggests it, it is probably correct) may be
contradicted by the consensus heuristic (i.e., the rule if the con-
sensus supports it, it is probably correct). Typically, rule conflict
is resolved in favor of the stronger of the competing rules, that is,
the rule with greatest perceived ecological rationality. This may
produce implicit biases and rule violations, that is, improper ap-
plication of a given rule because of interference from other incom-
patible rules.
In summary, to understand both deliberate and intuitive judg-
ments, we need a theory of rule selection. Here, we identified a
two-phase selection process involving (a) formation of the rules’
choice set considered by the individual and (b) selection of a rule
from the set allowing for the possibility of rule conflict.
Selected Empirical Evidence
If it is to serve as an alternative to existing dual-systems models,
the present framework not only should specify models of heuristic
rules and of rule selection but also ought (a) to be able to reinter-
pret findings cited in their support and (b) to afford novel, empir-
ically verifiable insights. To demonstrate our general approach, we
discuss here selected evidence in each of these categories.
Belief biases. A major implication of our rule-following
framework is the possibility of rule conflict, mentioned earlier.
Such conflict offers a plausible reinterpretation of the phenomenon
of belief bias (Evans, 2008), viewed as a major source of support
for the dual-systems notion. Belief bias is said to exist when
individuals’ prior beliefs interfere with the proper logical deriva-
tions of conclusions from premises. For instance, in the study by
Evans, Barston, and Pollard (1983) participants were presented
with the (major) premise, “No addictive things are inexpensive,”
and the (minor) premise, “Some cigarettes are inexpensive.” Evi-
dence for a belief bias was inferred from the finding that 71% of
the participants thought that these premises warranted the conclu-
sion, “Some addictive things are not cigarettes,” which does not
logically follow.
The notion that beliefs in given states of affairs can interfere
with the application of specific rules is readily explicable in terms
of the concept of rule conflict. Simply, the real world belief that
some addictive things are not cigarettes may have been previously
deduced in a rulelike fashion from the appropriate evidence, for
example, from one’s general familiarity with the class of addictive
things that includes noncigarettes (e.g. “If there exists an addictive
substance that is not a cigarette then some additive things are
noncigarettes”; “cocaine is an addictive substance that is not a
cigarette,” therefore “some addictive things are noncigarettes”),
undermining the proper deduction from the experimentally given
premises (that “Some cigarettes are not addictive”).
Our framework additionally suggests that in a clash between a
focal rule (represented by the logical task given to participants by
the experimenter) and a conclusion yielded by a prior rule (the so
called biasing belief), interference from the latter will be reduced
if the focal rule was well practiced or routinized and, hence, high
in perceived ecological rationality. This derivation is consistent
with the findings that (a) tutoring of research participants in
various rules, for example, the conjunction rule, or the rule in-
volved in Wason’s (1968) selection task, considerably improves
correct deductions from those rules (Osman, 2004, p. 998, p. 1001)
and that (b) rules couched in participants’ everyday experience,
hence characterized by considerable ecological rationality, are
applied more logically or consistently than are abstract rules de-
tached from participants familiar realities (Evans, 2008). Similarly,
there is evidence that firmly held beliefs, understood here as
beliefs deduced from ecologically rational rules, exert a particu-
larly pronounced belief bias (Evans, 2008, p. 264). In the same
vein, Reyna (2004) found that experts, that is, individuals with
schemas (or rules) held with supreme confidence or a sense of
ecological rationality, are more likely to apply those rules, which
can lead to bias and error in novel judgmental situations.
Sloman’s (1996) S-criterion. The phenomenon of rule con-
flict may also underlie Sloman’s (1996) simultaneity, or
S-criterion, for determining a systems separateness. Specifically,
“A reasoning problem satisfies Criterion S if it causes people to
believe two contradictory responses” (Sloman, 1996, p. 11). Con-
sider Sloman’s example of the statement that the “whale is a
mammal.” Whales are commonly perceived to resemble fish more
than typical mammals, like dogs or cats. In this case, a person may
need to deal with two contradictory beliefs, one derived from
whales’ outward similarity to fish and the other based on scholastic
knowledge whereby whales are considered mammals. But as with
Evans’s (2008) evidence for belief bias, what we have here are two
conflicting rules implying different conclusions. One rule is based
on similarity, or the representativeness heuristic; namely, if X
looks like a fish, swims like a fish, and lives like a fish then X is
a fish. The other rule is derivable from alternative premises, for
instance, known features of the mammal category, say breast
feeding of offspring, or from the epistemic authority of the source,
namely, if a biologist claims that X (e.g., that whales are mam-
mals) then indeed X. Thus, the simultaneity phenomenon need not
attest to system separateness and is instead explicable in terms of
the notion of rule conflict, discussed earlier.
Novel Insights
In what follows, we discuss three classes of novel findings
afforded by our unitary framework and incompatible with impli-
cations of the dual-systems models. These concern evidence that
(a) instantiation difficulty determines the amount of processing
potential that a rule requires for it to be selected for use, (b) higher
processing potential is not aligned with selecting more complex
rules, and (c) less processing can lead to more accurate judgments.
We consider these in turn.
Page 8
Instantiation Difficulty Determines the Amount of
Processing Potential a Rule Requires
Typically, dual-systems and dual-process models have implied
that heuristic rules are selected when the individuals’ processing
potential is low, whereas extensional rules (e.g., statistical or
logical rules) are used when the individuals’ processing potential is
high. However, the present analysis suggests that the amount of
processing potential required for selecting a given rule depends on
the difficulty of rule instantiation in given informational ecologies.
Take the expertise heuristic, if expert then correct. In much per-
suasion research (for reviews see Erb et al., 2003; Kruglanski and
Thompson, 1999a, 1999b) the instantiation of this rule was easy to
accomplish because the expertise information was conveyed via a
single line of text. Under those conditions, the expertise rule was
used predominantly under conditions of low processing potential.
However, in several studies (Kruglanski & Thompson, 1999a,
1999b, Kruglanski, Erb, at al., 2006; Kruglanski, Pierro, et al.,
2006) instantiation of the expertise rule was made difficult by
presenting the expertise information in the form of a lengthy
curriculum vitae from which (low or high) expertise could be
effortfully gleaned. Under those conditions, use of the expertise
heuristic occurred predominantly in the presence of ample pro-
cessing resources.
In a similar vein, Chun and Kruglanski (2006) showed in a
series of experiments that use of the base rate rule might require
either low processing potential or high processing potential, de-
pending on its instantiation difficulty. When the base rate infor-
mation was given in an easy to use form, that is, simply and
succinctly, the base rate rule was used (base rate neglect was
minimized) under low processing potential (e.g., in the presence of
cognitive load). However, when such information was made dif-
ficult to glean (as the overall base rates had to be concatenated
from several subsamples), the base rate rule was used only in the
presence of ample processing potential. These findings lead one to
question prior suggestions that rules referred to as intuitive (i.e.,
heuristic rules) are used under low processing potential, whereas
rules referred to as deliberative tend to be used under high pro-
cessing potential. After all, any rule can be made more or less
difficult to instantiate or retrieve from memory and, hence, be
more or less exigent of processing potential. The very same rule
can be made easy to apply, in which case its use would resemble
intuitive judgment or be more difficult to apply, resembling delib-
erative judgment.
Higher Processing Potential Is not Aligned With
Selecting More Complex Rules
Beside instantiation difficulty, a major factor in rule selection is
the rule’s (perceived) ecological rationality. Considerations of
such rationality additionally invalidate the alignment of simple
rules with low processing potential and complex rules with high
processing potential. Specifically, our analysis suggests that to the
extent that a rule (whether simple or complex) is difficult to
retrieve or instantiate, it will not be selected and used under
insufficient processing potential. Crucially, however, the obverse
of this relation does not hold. That is, more complex rules will not
be necessarily selected under high processing potential. Instead,
under high potential, considerations of ecological rationality will
prevail, and the individual will be able to select the most ecolog-
ically rational rule currently available.
In support of these notions, Pierro, Mannetti, Kruglanski, and
Sleeth-Keppler (2004) showed that under limited processing po-
tential, the easy to process rule is selected even if a more ecolog-
ically rational rule is potentially available. By contrast, under
ample processing potential, the most ecologically rational rule is
selected, regardless of whether it is easy or difficult to process.
These findings imply that under ample processing potential the
individual is able to engender an extensive set of rules to choose
from and is able to select the most rational rule from the set. In
contrast, under limited processing potential, the individuals’ rule
sets might exclude from consideration the most ecologically ratio-
nal rule if it is difficult to process.
Consistent with the foregoing analysis are findings that individ-
uals classified as take-the-best users for tasks in which this heu-
ristic is most ecologically rational showed higher IQs than did
those who were classified as relying on more complex, compen-
satory rules, suggesting that cognitive capacity as measured by IQ
“is not consumed by strategy execution but rather by strategy
selection” (Bröder & Newell, 2008, p. 209). Further evidence for
the hypothesis that under ample resource conditions individuals
use the most ecologically rational (rather than complex) rules
derives from a series of studies by Cokely, Parpart, and Schooler
Less Effort Can Lead to Higher Accuracy
A major question about judgments concerns their accuracy. This
is hardly surprising as accuracy is a valuable asset to possess.
Beyond the intrinsic value of having a grasp on reality, accuracy
affords predictability that may help individuals cope with their
social and physical environments. For that reason, psychological
researchers and theorists have expended considerable efforts to
identify judgmental procedures that increase accuracy and those
that may undermine it. In most analyses, simple heuristics have
been depicted as sub-optimal rules of thumb: Though often yield-
ing reasonable estimates, they were considered inferior, by and
large, to normative procedures (but see Evans, 2008). Accordingly,
they have been often equated with judgmental biases giving rise to
the ubiquitous heuristics and biases label. In this vein, Tversky
(1972, p. 98) asserted that the heuristic of elimination-by-aspects
“cannot be defended as a rational procedure of choice.” Similarly,
Keeney and Raiffa (1993, pp. 77–78) stated that the use of (lexi-
cographic) heuristics “is more widely adopted in practice than it
deserves to be [and] will rarely pass a test of reasonableness.”
Related to the notion that heuristics constitute suboptimal short-
cuts to normative calculations is the pervasive view that more
information is better for accuracy. Rudolph Carnap (1947) pro-
posed the principle of total evidence, suggesting the advisability of
using all the available evidence in estimating a probability. In
many theories of cognition (e.g., the Bayesian model, or prospect
theory), it is similarly assumed that all pieces of information are,
or should be, integrated in the final judgment (Gigerenzer &
Brighton, 2009). McArthur and Baron’s (1983) suggestion that
active perceiver are typically more accurate than passive perceiv-
ers could be interpreted in terms of the greater amounts of infor-
mation that active exploration may afford. Too, these authors’
notion of sins of omission refers to cases in which the perceiver
Page 9
misses part of what is afforded because of attentional selectivity or
because the stimulus array is impoverished. Again then, errors are
traced to limited information search.
One of the first types of evidence for less-can-be-more came for
the tallying heuristic (Table 1). This simple rule, reminiscent of the
use of tally sticks for counting and traceable back some 30,000
years, has probably survived for a very good reason. Following the
pioneering work of Dawes (1979; Dawes & Corrigan, 1974),
Czerlinski, Gigerenzer, and Goldstein (1999) compared the tally-
ing heuristic with multiple linear regression in 20 studies. Tallying
ignores all cue weights, whereas multiple regression estimates the
optimal beta weights. The authors found that averaged across all
studies, tallying nevertheless achieved a higher predictive accuracy
than did multiple regression. This does not mean that tallying will
outperform multiple regression in all circumstances. The challenge
for researchers is to delineate the tasks, or informational ecologies
(Fiedler, 2007), under which each of these inferential rules pro-
duces the more accurate predictions (see Einhorn & Hogarth,
Similar less-is-more effects have been found for several other
rules. A most striking discovery was that take-the-best—which
relies on only one reason and ignores the rest— can predict more
accurately than linear multiple regression models and tallying
(Czerlinski et al., 1999). Subsequently it was found that relying on
one good reason often also resulted in more accurate predictions
than complex nonlinear methods, including a three-layer feedfor-
ward connectionist network trained with the backpropagation al-
gorithm, exemplar-based models (nearest-neighbor classifier),
classification and regression trees (CART), and Quinlan’s
decision-tree induction algorithm C4.5 (Brighton, 2006; Chater,
Oaksford, Nakisa, & Redington, 2003; Gigerenzer & Brighton,
2009). These results put heuristics on par with standard statistical
models of rational cognition. This is not to say that relying on one
good reason is always better, but it raises the question, in what
tasks is relying on one good reason better than relying on all
reasons. A formal answer has been found with the bias-variance
dilemma (Gigerenzer & Brighton, 2009).
The notion that simple rules can yield accurate inferences in
appropriate ecologies has been highlighted by various theories of
social cognition and perception (Funder, 1987; McArthur &
Baron, 1983; Swann, 1984). The ecological approach emphasizes
that in their natural environments humans and animals generally
draw accurate inferences, when accuracy is defined in pragmatist
terms as that which works (James, 1907, 1909). Less-is-more
effects are of primary importance for the argument that heuristics
are not aligned with error-prone judgments, and complex statistical
rules are not aligned with rational judgments. These alignments
miss the ecological nature of judgment and run the risk of misin-
terpreting the adaptive use of less effortful rules as signs of limited
capacities or even irrationality.
In this article, we presented a number of convergent arguments
and empirical evidence for a unified theoretical approach that
explains both intuitive and deliberate judgments as rule based, as
opposed to the dual-systems approach of qualitatively different
processes. Moreover, using a sample of heuristic rules (Table 1),
we provided empirical evidence that the same rules can underlie
both intuitive and deliberate judgments. Because there can be more
than one rule, any theory of judgment needs to address the rule
selection problem, which is hidden in dual-process accounts be-
cause the processes are not well specified. We proposed a two-step
selection process, in which the task and the contents of memory
constrain the choice set of rules an individual can consider, and
processing potential and (perceived) ecological rationality deter-
mine the final selection of a rule.
Although the specific features of our theoretical framework
need to be elaborated, one thing seems clear. The conceptual and
empirical difficulties entailed by the partition between intuitive
and deliberate judgments, and their alignment with multiple sim-
ilar dichotomies have impeded a deeper examination of the psy-
chology of judgment. It is time to move beyond imprecise dual-
isms and toward specific models of the judgmental process. These
include models of heuristic inference rules, their building blocks,
and their adaptations to task environments that humans confront.
The present article is meant as a step in that direction.
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Received November 3, 2009
Revision received May 20, 2010
Accepted June 17, 2010
Call for Papers: Special Issue on Co-Occurrence of Different Forms of Violence
Guest Editors: John Grych and Suzanne Swan
Psychology of Violence invites manuscripts for a special issue on the co-occurrence of different
forms of violence, to be compiled by guest editors John Grych and Suzanne Swan. This special issue
will publish in 2012.
There is growing interest in studying the co-occurrence of different types of violence. Accumu-
lating evidence indicates that victims of one type of violence often experience other types of
violence, individuals who perpetrate violence in one context often do so in other contexts, and many
perpetrators also have been victims of violence. However, our understanding of the intersection of
different types of violence has been limited by the tendency for researchers to study each kind of
violence, abuse, or maltreatment in isolation. As a result, both knowledge of the causes of violence
and the ability to effectively reduce it has suffered.
This special issue will attempt to break down the “silos” that have developed in each domain of
research in an effort to move the field towards a more integrative understanding of the causes, risk
factors, and effects of violence and abuse. We conceptualize violence broadly, including child
maltreatment, psychological aggression and coercive control, intimate partner violence, teen dating
violence, bullying, community violence, elder abuse, sexual aggression, suicidal behavior, and
stalking. We welcome papers that address these issues theoretically and empirically and highlight
the implications of this approach for prevention, intervention, and public policy.
Topics may include but are not limited to:
Conceptual models that explain co-occurrence of different types of violence/abuse
Developmental patterns in poly-victimization
Victimization history as a precursor to abusive or violent behavior
Revictimization across the lifespan
Implications of co-occurrence of different forms of violence for understanding/addressing
health disparities
Links/gaps in prevention/intervention programs designed to reduce violence
Different patterns of violence across cultural contexts
Policy implications and possibilities for prevention and intervention offered by conceptualiz-
ing violence as occurring in multiple and interrelated forms
Manuscripts can be submitted through the journal’s submission portal, under the Instructions to
Authors at Please note in your cover letter that you are
submitting for this special issue. Deadline for submitting manuscripts is April 1, 2011. Inquiries
regarding topic or scope for the special issue or for other manuscripts can be sent to John Grych,, or Suzanne Swan,
Page 13
  • Source
    • "It is therefore of interest, if not concern, that the kind of dual-process models used in addiction research have been strongly criticized, even in the sense of retarding the progress of science by providing the illusion of theory without much content (Keren, 2013). It has been pointed out that the evidence for dual systems is weak (Keren and Schul, 2009; Kruglanski, 2013; Kruglanski and Gigerenzer, 2011), certainly for strong models of separable systems that can be distinguished based on a set of perfectly covarying dichotomous features (Bargh, 1994 ). We have previously discussed the problem of the motivational homunculus that makes the kind of " cold " control system strictly separated from emotion and motivation untenable (Gladwin and Figner, 2014; Gladwin et al., 2011; Wiers et al., 2013b). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cognitive retraining or cognitive bias modification (CBM) involves having subjects repeatedly perform a computerized task designed to reduce the impact of automatic processes that lead to harmful behavior. We first discuss the theory underlying CBM and provide a brief overview of important research progress in its application to addiction. We then focus on cognitive- and neural-mediating mechanisms. We consider recent criticism of both CBM and its theoretical foundations. Evaluations of CBM could benefit from considering theory-driven factors that may determine variations in efficacy, such as motivation. Concerning theory, while there is certainly room for fundamental advances in current models, we argue that the basic view of impulsive behavior and its control remains a useful and productive heuristic. Finally, we briefly discuss some interesting new directions for CBM research: enhancement of training via transcranial direct current stimulation, online training, and gamification, i.e., the use of gameplay elements to increase motivation.
    Full-text · Chapter · Dec 2016
    • ".In conscious verbal reasoning people construct a System 1 generative model that they are able to query or sample in order to make a response. The process is unlikely to be conscious with only the products of each query being available to the conscious System 2 (for related views, see [65,66]). Logical Intuitions A similar process of sampling a generative model can explain logical intuitions. A key premise of Bayesian brain theory is that probabilities are represented as probability density functions, like the normal distribution [22,46]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Reasoning and decision making are error prone. This is often attributed to a fast, phylogenetically old System 1. It is striking, however, that perceptuo-motor decision making in humans and animals is rational. These results are consistent with perceptuo-motor strategies emerging in Bayesian brain theory that also appear in human data selection. People seem to have access, although limited, to unconscious generative models that can generalise to explain other verbal reasoning results. Error does not emerge predominantly from System 1, but rather seems to emerge from the later evolved System 2 that involves working memory and language. However language also sows the seeds of error correction by moving reasoning into the social domain. This reversal of roles suggests key areas of theoretical integration and new empirical directions.
    No preview · Article · May 2016 · Trends in Cognitive Sciences
    • "These processes are assumed to be rational and characterize deliberative judgments (Epstein, 1994). There remain debates about the terminology of the two systems and whether the two systems are distinct and competitive (Kruglanski & Gigerenzer, 2011). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We examined 6864 articles published between 1990 and 2015, and meta-analysed 46 studies. The first meta-analysis included 40 effect sizes comparing patients with schizophrenia spectrum or other psychotic disorders and healthy controls. There was a hastier data-gathering style in patients with psychosis than healthy individuals, with a moderate aggregated effect size. The second meta-analysis included 18 effect sizes comparing patients with non-psychotic disorders and healthy controls. There was marked heterogeneity in effect sizes and evidence for publication bias. After removal of outliers, the aggregated effect size for JTC was not statistically significant. A planned subgroup analysis showed no significant effect of JTC in depression. Other diagnostic subgroups yielded small non-significant results. Therefore, our findings do not support the suggestion that JTC is a transdiagnostic phenomenon beyond psychosis.
    No preview · Article · May 2016 · Clinical psychology review
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