Taming Uncertainty

September 05, 2019

How do people navigate uncertainty, making decisions under conditions of imperfect knowledge, high complexity, and time pressure?

Hertwig, R., Pleskac, T. J., Pachur, T., & The Center for Adaptive Rationality (2019). Taming uncertainty. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. mitpress.mit.edu/books/taming-uncertainty

Ralph Hertwig and colleagues argue that the human mind has developed three types of tools to grapple with uncertainty: simple heuristics, tools for information search, and tools for harnessing the wisdom of others. The authors show how these three dimensions of human decision making are integrated in the mind’s adaptive toolbox. They argue that the toolbox, its cognitive foundation, and the environment are in constant flux and subject to developmental change. They also demonstrate that each cognitive tool can be analyzed in terms of its ecological rationality—that is, the fit between specific tools and specific environments. Chapters deal with instances of decision making such as food choice architecture, intertemporal choice, financial uncertainty, pedestrian navigation, and adolescent behavior.

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