Heuristics are commonly defined as cognitive shortcuts or rules of thumb that simplify decisions, especially under conditions of uncertainty. They represent a process of substituting a difficult question with an easier one (Kahneman, 2003). Heuristics can also lead to cognitive biases. There are disagreements regarding heuristics with respect to bias and rationality. In the fast and frugal view, the application of heuristics (e.g. the recognition heuristic) is an “ecologically rational” strategy that makes best use of the limited information available to individuals (Goldstein & Gigerenzer, 2002).

There are generally different classes of heuristics, depending on their scope. Some heuristics, such as affect, availability, and representativeness, have a general purpose character; others developed in social and consumer psychology are more domain-specific, examples of which include brand name, price, and scarcity heuristics (Shah & Oppenheimer, 2008).


Goldstein, D. G., & Gigerenzer, G. (2002). Models of ecological rationality: the recognition heuristic. Psychological Review, 109(1), 75-90.

Kahneman, D. (2003). Maps of bounded rationality: Psychology for behavioral economics. The American Economic Review, 93, 1449-1475.

Shah, A. K., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2008). Heuristics made easy: An effort-reduction framework. Psychological Bulletin, 134(2), 207-222.