Ecological Rationality (2012)

Ecological Rationality: Intelligence in the World explores how people can be effective decision makers by using simple heuristics that fit well into the structure of the environment. When we wield the right tool from the mind’s adaptive toolbox for a particular situation, we can make good choices with little information or computation. Thus, simple strategies excel by exploiting the reliable patterns in the world. Heuristics are not good or bad, “biased” or “unbiased,” on their own, but only in relation to the setting in which they are used. The authors demonstrate this principle through case studies of heuristics and environments fitting together to produce good decisions, in situations including sports competitions, the search for a parking space, business group meetings, and doctor/patient interactions. The message ofEcological Rationality is to study mind and environment in tandem. Intelligence is not only in the mind but also in the world, captured in the structures of information around us.

The interdisciplinary research presented in this book, by turns theoretical, empirical, and applied, will be interesting and inspiring for all those concerned with how people make decisions. With specific examples in a variety of domains, it shows psychologists, economists, philosophers, cognitive scientists, and ethologists how to study the mind together with the decision environment, and the perils of ignoring their vital interaction. Furthermore, this book provides guidance to practitioners who aim to design environments and institutions that help people make better choices.


Todd, P. M., & Gigerenzer, G., & the ABC Research Group. (2012). Ecological Rationality: Intelligence in the world. New York: Oxford University Press.

ISBN13: 978-0-19-531544-8
ISBN10: 0-19-531544-8

Ecological Rationality Cover