This article examines decision making in living systems at the level of the organism. Ten simple decision rules, or heuristics, were implemented as computer subroutines in a simulation program designed to determine how often each would select alternatives with highest‐through‐lowest expected value in a series of randomly generated decision situations. The decision situations varied in their number of alternatives (2, 4, or 8) and outcomes (2, 4, or 8). Results indicated that most of the heuristics, including some which “ignored” probability information, regularly selected alternatives with highest expected value, and almost never selected alternatives with lowest expected value. Implications of this finding for motivational explanations of heuristic use—as opposed to the more popular cognitive explanations—are discussed. Copyright

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Keywords decision making, heuristics, organism, simulation
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Journal Behavioral Science
Thorngate, W. (1980). Efficient decision heuristics. Behavioral Science, 25(3), 219–225. doi:10.1002/bs.3830250306