In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Heuristics and Biases

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Works
  • Textbooks
  • Journals
  • Heuristics and Biases in Applied Settings
  • Debiasing
  • Alternative Accounts of Biases
  • Neuroimaging Studies of Heuristics and Biases
  • Debates

Psychology Heuristics and Biases
Henrik Olsson
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 November 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 November 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0133


In the 1970s, psychologists became interested in investigating human reasoning errors that they believed are the consequence of using heuristics. The resulting heuristics and biases program launched by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman has had immense influence, contributing to the emergence of behavioral economics and behavioral law. The program’s main aim was to study people’s intuitions about uncertainty and to what extent they were in accordance with normative rational theory. Starting in the 1990s the fast and frugal heuristics approach focused on the adaptive nature of heuristics in order to explore how computationally modeled heuristics can exploit structured information to yield fast and accurate decisions. Studies conducted in this tradition showed that when used in the appropriate environment, heuristics can surpass the predictive accuracy of more sophisticated and information-greedy tools.

General Overviews

The classic overview of the heuristics and biases program is Kahneman, et al. 1982. Gilovich, et al. 2002 is an update on the progress made since the appearance of that work. The latter also provides perspectives outside the traditional heuristics and biases program. The introduction gives a good, short description of the heuristics and biases program, including an historical account of the research program, developments, and critiques and controversies. Gigerenzer 2008 is a good, short introduction to the fast and frugal heuristics research program, with a focus on why heuristics work. Kahneman 2011 and Gigerenzer 2007 are popular accounts of these two research programs.

  • Gigerenzer, Gerd. 2007. Gut feelings: The intelligence of the unconscious. New York: Viking.

    A more popular and highly readable account of the fast and frugal research program.

  • Gigerenzer, Gerd. 2008. Why heuristics work. Perspectives on Psychological Science 3.1: 20–29.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-6916.2008.00058.x

    A short introduction to the fast and frugal heuristics research program, with special focus on why heuristics work. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

  • Gilovich, Thomas, Dale Griffin, and Daniel Kahneman, eds. 2002. Heuristics and biases: The psychology of intuitive judgment. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511808098

    Comprehensive overview of the heuristics and biases program and other perspectives. A reader might want to compare the content of this book with that of Kahneman, et al. 1982 and Kahneman 2011 in order to trace the evolution of the heuristics and biases research program. See also the introduction (pp. 1–18).

  • Kahneman, Daniel. 2011. Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

    An excellent popular introduction to the heuristics and biases research program through the lens of two systems of thinking.

  • Kahneman, Daniel, Paul Slovic, and Amos Tversky, eds. 1982. Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511809477

    A classic collection of papers that constitute the core of the heuristics and biases program.

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