Gerd Gigerenzer

Gerd Gigerenzer is Director of the Harding Center for Risk Literacy at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and Partner in Simply Rational—The Institute for Decisions. He is the author of Calculated Risks, among other books, and the coeditor of Bounded Rationality: The Adaptive Toolbox and Heuristics and the Law, both published by the MIT Press.

  • Classification in the Wild

    The Science and Art of Transparent Decision Making

    Konstantinos V. Katsikopoulos, Özgür Şimşek, Marcus Buckmann, and Gerd Gigerenzer

    Rules for building formal models that use fast-and-frugal heuristics, extending the psychological study of classification to the real world of uncertainty.

    This book focuses on classification—allocating objects into categories—“in the wild,” in real-world situations and far from the certainty of the lab. In the wild, unlike in typical psychological experiments, the future is not knowable and uncertainty cannot be meaningfully reduced to probability. Connecting the science of heuristics with machine learning, the book shows how to create formal models using classification rules that are simple, fast, and transparent and that can be as accurate as mathematically sophisticated algorithms developed for machine learning.

    The authors—whose individual expertise ranges from empirical psychology to mathematical modeling to artificial intelligence and data science—offer real-world examples, including voting, HIV screening, and magistrate decision making; present an accessible guide to inducing the models statistically; compare the performance of such models to machine learning algorithms when applied to problems that include predicting diabetes or bank failure; and discuss conceptual and historical connections to cognitive psychology. Finally, they analyze such challenging safety-related applications as decreasing civilian casualties in checkpoints and regulating investment banks.

    • Hardcover $35.00
  • Better Doctors, Better Patients, Better Decisions

    Better Doctors, Better Patients, Better Decisions

    Envisioning Health Care 2020

    Gerd Gigerenzer and J.A. Muir Gray

    How eliminating “risk illiteracy” among doctors and patients will lead to better health care decision making.

    Contrary to popular opinion, one of the main problems in providing uniformly excellent health care is not lack of money but lack of knowledge—on the part of both doctors and patients. The studies in this book show that many doctors and most patients do not understand the available medical evidence. Both patients and doctors are “risk illiterate”—frequently unable to tell the difference between actual risk and relative risk. Further, unwarranted disparity in treatment decisions is the rule rather than the exception in the United States and Europe. All of this contributes to much wasted spending in health care.

    The contributors to Better Doctors, Better Patients, Better Decisions investigate the roots of the problem, from the emphasis in medical research on technology and blockbuster drugs to the lack of education for both doctors and patients. They call for a new, more enlightened health care, with better medical education, journals that report study outcomes completely and transparently, and patients in control of their personal medical records, not afraid of statistics but able to use them to make informed decisions about their treatments.

    • Hardcover $45.00
    • Paperback $25.00
  • Heuristics and the Law

    Heuristics and the Law

    Gerd Gigerenzer and Christoph Engel

    Experts in law, psychology, and economics explore the power of "fast and frugal" heuristics in the creation and implementation of law

    In recent decades, the economists' concept of rational choice has dominated legal reasoning. And yet, in practical terms, neither the lawbreakers the law addresses nor officers of the law behave as the hyperrational beings postulated by rational choice. Critics of rational choice and believers in "fast and frugal heuristics" propose another approach: using certain formulations or general principles (heuristics) to help navigate in an environment that is not a well-ordered setting with an occasional disturbance, as described in the language of rational choice, but instead is fundamentally uncertain or characterized by an unmanageable degree of complexity. This is the intuition behind behavioral law and economics. In Heuristics and the Law, experts in law, psychology, and economics explore the conceptual and practical power of the heuristics approach in law. They discuss legal theory; modeling and predicting the problems the law purports to solve; the process of making law, in the legislature or in the courtroom; the application of existing law in the courts, particularly regarding the law of evidence; and implementation of the law and the impact of law on behavior.

    Contributors Ronald J. Allen, Hal R. Arkes, Peter Ayton, Susanne Baer, Martin Beckenkamp, Robert Cooter, Leda Cosmides, Mandeep K. Dhami, Robert C. Ellickson, Christoph Engel, Richard A. Epstein, Wolfgang Fikentscher, Axel Flessner, Robert H. Frank, Bruno S. Frey, Gerd Gigerenzer, Paul W. Glimcher, Daniel G. Goldstein, Chris Guthrie, Jonathan Haidt, Reid Hastie, Ralph Hertwig, Eric J. Johnson, Jonathan J. Koehler, Russell Korobkin, Stephanie Kurzenhäuser, Douglas A. Kysar, Donald C. Langevoort, Richard Lempert, Stefan Magen, Callia Piperides, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Clara Sattler de Sousa e Brito, Joachim Schulz, Victoria A. Shaffer, Indra Spiecker genannt Döhmann, John Tooby, Gerhard Wagner, Elke U. Weber, Bernd Wittenbrink

    • Hardcover $50.00
  • Bounded Rationality

    Bounded Rationality

    The Adaptive Toolbox

    Gerd Gigerenzer and Reinhard Selten

    In a complex and uncertain world, humans and animals make decisions under the constraints of limited knowledge, resources, and time. Yet models of rational decision making in economics, cognitive science, biology, and other fields largely ignore these real constraints and instead assume agents with perfect information and unlimited time. About forty years ago, Herbert Simon challenged this view with his notion of "bounded rationality." Today, bounded rationality has become a fashionable term used for disparate views of reasoning.

    This book promotes bounded rationality as the key to understanding how real people make decisions. Using the concept of an "adaptive toolbox," a repertoire of fast and frugal rules for decision making under uncertainty, it attempts to impose more order and coherence on the idea of bounded rationality. The contributors view bounded rationality neither as optimization under constraints nor as the study of people's reasoning fallacies. The strategies in the adaptive toolbox dispense with optimization and, for the most part, with calculations of probabilities and utilities. The book extends the concept of bounded rationality from cognitive tools to emotions; it analyzes social norms, imitation, and other cultural tools as rational strategies; and it shows how smart heuristics can exploit the structure of environments.

    • Hardcover $39.95
    • Paperback $40.00


  • Cognitive Unconscious and Human Rationality

    Cognitive Unconscious and Human Rationality

    Laura Macchi, Maria Bagassi, and Riccardo Viale

    Examining the role of implicit, unconscious thinking on reasoning, decision making, problem solving, creativity, and its neurocognitive basis, for a genuinely psychological conception of rationality.

    This volume contributes to a current debate within the psychology of thought that has wide implications for our ideas about creativity, decision making, and economic behavior. The essays focus on the role of implicit, unconscious thinking in creativity and problem solving, the interaction of intuition and analytic thinking, and the relationship between communicative heuristics and thought. The analyses move beyond the conventional conception of mind informed by extra-psychological theoretical models toward a genuinely psychological conception of rationality—a rationality no longer limited to conscious, explicit thought, but able to exploit the intentional implicit level.

    The contributors consider a new conception of human rationality that must cope with the uncertainty of the real world; the implications of abandoning the normative model of classic logic and adopting a probabilistic approach instead; the argumentative and linguistic aspects of reasoning; and the role of implicit thought in reasoning, creativity, and its neurological base.

    Contributors Maria Bagassi, Linden J. Ball, Jean Baratgin, Aron K. Barbey, Tilmann Betsch, Eric Billaut, Jean-François Bonnefon, Pierre Bonnier, Shira Elqayam, Keith Frankish, Gerd Gigerenzer, Ken Gilhooly, Denis Hilton, Anna Lang, Stefanie Lindow, Laura Macchi, Hugo Mercier, Giuseppe Mosconi, Ian R. Newman, Mike Oaksford, David Over, Guy Politzer, Johannes Ritter, Steven A. Sloman, Edward J. N. Stupple, Ron Sun, Nicole H. Therriault, Valerie A. Thompson, Emmanuel Trouche-Raymond, Riccardo Viale

    • Hardcover $55.00