Heuristics & Cognitive Biases


Heuristic (adj): searching to discover

Heuristics: thinking relying on the use of intuition, human feel, experience, rules of thumb, examples by analogy for judgemnet and decision making in real life conditions, without normative analysis based on mathematical representation. (Tversky and Kahneman 1982; Schon 1983)

Heuristics are used to reach quick, reasonably effective, and creative solutions, but they may also lead to errors and fail because of cognitive biases (e.g. Tversky and Kahneman 1982a; Baron 1994; Evans 1995; Osherson 1995), which are unwarranted confidence in believing the likelihood of an outcome.

Frequent Biases or illusions of Validity:

  • Representativeness: rely on similarity
  • Availability: based on the ease of recall and imaginability, top down bias where the way information is stored in memory has misleading effect on the way we access it.
  • Anchoring and Adjustment: dependence on adjustment from an initial value
  • Insensitivity to predictability

Debiasing Strategies:

  • making the task easier
  • teach probability estimation skills
  • consider alternatives
  • decrease reliance on memory
  • warning of the possible biases at work
  • the rebuttal or disqualification  mecchanism, thinking about exception


References & Image

Bay, Joo-Hwa, 2001, ‘Cognitive Biases on Design: The case of tropical architecture’, PhD Dissertation, Technische Universiteit Delft

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