Prof. Gerd Gigerenzer will be visiting FASS on March 25, 2013, in the scope of Psychology Public Lecture Series.
GERD GIGERENZER is Director of the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and former Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago. He won the AAAS Prize for the best article in the behavioral sciences. He is the author of Calculated Risks: How To Know When Numbers Deceive You, the German translation of which won the Scientific Book of the Year Prize in 2002 and Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious. He has also published two academic books on heuristics, Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart (with Peter Todd & The ABC Research Group), and Bounded Rationality: The Adaptive Toolbox (with Reinhard Selten, a Nobel laureate in economics).
Decision Making Under Risk and Uncertainty
There are risks that are known, and others that are unknown. In worlds of known risks, statistical thinking can provide the optimal course of action. The challenge here is in the art of risk communication, which is rarely taught. For instance, most doctors do not understand the outcomes of their tests. We have developed simple tools that help both doctors and patients to understand health statistics. In worlds of unknown risks, however, understanding statistics is not enough. Here, simple heuristics and good intuition are needed. A heuristic can find smart solutions by focusing on only a few cues and ignoring the rest. I will explain how heuristics work. They are embodied in the sense that they can exploit capacities of the human mind (such as recognition memory), which facilitates quick judgments. They are anchored in the environment in the sense that they can exploit statistical or social structures (such as signal-to-noise ratio). The study of the ecological rationality of heuristics provides a novel and general account to understand why and when less can be more.
P.S.: The seminar will be held in English.