Annu Rev Psychol. 2002;53:491-517. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.53.100901.135213.


This chapter reviews selected findings in research on reasoning, judgment, and choice and considers the systematic ways in which people violate basic requirements of the corresponding normative analyses. Recent objections to the empirical findings are then considered; these objections question the findings' relevance to assumptions about rationality. These objections address the adequacy of the tasks used in the aforementioned research and the appropriateness of the critical interpretation of participants' responses, as well as the justifiability of some of the theoretical assumptions made by experimenters. The objections are each found not to seriously impinge on the general conclusion that people often violate tenets of rationality in inadvisable ways. In the process, relevant psychological constructs, ranging from cognitive ability and need for cognition, to dual process theories and the role of incentives, are discussed. It is proposed that the rationality critique is compelling and rightfully gaining influence in the social sciences in general.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect / physiology
  • Choice Behavior
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Decision Making*
  • Humans
  • Judgment*