On the reality of cognitive illusions

Psychol Rev. 1996 Jul;103(3):582-91; discusion 592-6. doi: 10.1037/0033-295x.103.3.582.


The study of heuristics and biases in judgement has been criticized in several publications by G. Gigerenzer, who argues that "biases are not biases" and "heuristics are meant to explain what does not exist" (1991, p. 102). The article responds to Gigerenzer's critique and shows that it misrepresents the authors' theoretical position and ignores critical evidence. Contrary to Gigerenzer's central empirical claim, judgments of frequency--not only subjective probabilities--are susceptible to large and systematic biases. A postscript responds to Gigerenzer's (1996) reply.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Cognition*
  • Humans
  • Optical Illusions*
  • Psychophysics