Speaker series
Evolution and the Social Mind
Speaker series
Ecological Intelligence: An Adaptation to Frequencies
A Presentation by Gerd Gigerenzer
Director, Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition
Max Planck Institute, Berlin, Germany
April 21, 1998 at 3:00 - 5:00pm
HSSB 2001
Gerd Gigerenzer has worked in many areas, from the history of probability theory and statistical inference to deductive reasoning in social contexts, but is perhaps best known for his theoretical and empirical work on judgment under uncertainty, and for his recent focus on applying evolutionary perspectives to cognitive science and decision-making.  His theoretical analyses have led to a reevaluation of the traditional cognitive practice of defining human rationality as a strict adherence to existing normative theories drawn from mathematics and logic, especially when applied without an analysis of the structure of the domain to which they are applied.  His empirical work has shown that, contrary to widespread belief in psychology, people are very good "intuitive probabilists"  -- if they are provided with information in an ecologically valid format.

The work Gigerenzer will be talking about on Wednesday goes well beyond the prior research that demonstrated that people are good at solving Bayesian reasoning problems when asked to reason about event frequencies. He has found evidence that people make judgments using algorithms that are "fast and frugal".  These algorithms differ from the kind of heuristics suggested by Tversky, Kahneman, and others, in a very important manner: rather than being "quick and dirty", these algorithms are "quick and clean".  I.e., they produce very well-calibrated judgments - in many cases, judgments that are as good or better than those generated by more sophisticated computational methods that attempt to integrate more types of information.

This work has important implications for cognitive scientists, economists, and also for biologists working on foraging or other problems involving information-processing.

Selected Publications:
Gigerenzer, G., Swijtink, Z., Porter, T., Daston, L. J., Beatty, J., and Krueger, L. (1989). The empire of chance. How probability changed science and everyday life. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Gigerenzer, G. & Goldstein, D. G. (1996). Reasoning the fast and frugal way: Models of bounded rationality. Psychological Review, 103, 650-669.

Gigerenzer, G. & Hoffrage, U. (1995). How to improve Bayesian reasoning without instruction: Frequency formats. Psychological Review, 102, 684-704.

Gigerenzer, G. (1991). From tools to theories: A heuristic of discovery in cognitive psychology. Psychological Review, 98, 254-267.


Speaker series
Evolution and the Social Mind
Speaker series