Rational Foundations of Fast and Frugal Heuristics: The Ecological Rationality of Strategy Selection via Improper Linear Models

Minds and Machines 26 (1-2):61-86 (2016)
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Abstract

Research on “improper” linear models has shown that predetermined weighting schemes for the linear model, such as equally weighting all predictors, can be surprisingly accurate on cross-validation. We review recent advances that can characterize the optimal choice of an improper linear model. We extend this research to the understanding of fast and frugal heuristics, particularly to the ecologically rational goal of understanding in which task environments given heuristics are optimal. We demonstrate how to test this model using the Recognition Heuristic and Take the Best heuristic, show how the model reconciles with the ecological rationality program, and discuss how our prescriptive, computational approach could be approximated by simpler mental rules that might be more descriptive. Echoing the arguments of van Rooij et al., we stress the virtue of having a computationally tractable model of strategy selection, even if one proposes that cognizers use a simpler heuristic process to approximate it.

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