Why Heuristics Work

Perspect Psychol Sci. 2008 Jan;3(1):20-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6916.2008.00058.x.


The adaptive toolbox is a Darwinian-inspired theory that conceives of the mind as a modular system that is composed of heuristics, their building blocks, and evolved capacities. The study of the adaptive toolbox is descriptive and analyzes the selection and structure of heuristics in social and physical environments. The study of ecological rationality is prescriptive and identifies the structure of environments in which specific heuristics either succeed or fail. Results have been used for designing heuristics and environments to improve professional decision making in the real world.