Take-the-best is a simple decision-making shortcut that people may apply when choosing between alternatives. It is a one-reason decision rule, a type of heuristic where judgments are based on a single “good” reason only, ignoring other cues (Gigerenzer & Gaissmaier, 2011).  Using the take-the-best heuristic, a decision maker will base the choice on one attribute that is perceived to discriminate most effectively between the options (Gigerenzer & Goldstein, 1996). Airport customs officers, for example, may determine whether a passenger is selected for a search by choosing the best of various cues, such as airport of origin, nationality, or amount of luggage (Pachur & Marinello, 2013). One study investigated voters’ perceptions of how US presidential candidates would handle the single issue that voters regarded as most important, such as the state of the economy or foreign policy. A model based on this issue (as a take-the-best attribute used by potential voters) correctly chose the winner of the popular vote in 97% of all predictions (Graefe & Armstrong, 2012).


Gigerenzer, G., & Gaissmaier, W. (2011). Heuristic decision making. Annual Review of Psychology, 62(1), 451-482

Gigerenzer, G., & Goldstein, D. G. (1996). Reasoning the fast and frugal way: Models of bounded rationality. Psychological Review, 103, 650-669.

Graefe, A., & Armstrong, J. S. (2012). Predicting elections from the most important issue: A test of the take‐the‐best heuristic. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 25(1), 41-48.

Pachur, T., & Marinello, G. (2013). Expert intuitions: How to model the decision strategies of airport customs officers? Acta Psychologica, 144(1), 97-103.