Action as a fast and frugal heuristic

Minds and Machines 9 (4):479-496 (1999)
Decision making is usually viewed as involving a period of thought, while the decision maker assesses options, their likely consequences, and his or her preferences, and selects the preferred option. The process ends in a terminating action. In this view errors of thought will inevitably show up as errors of action; costs of thinking are to be balanced against costs of decision errors. Fast and frugal heuristics research has shown that, in some environments, modest thought can lead to excellent action. In this paper we extend this work to situations in which action is taken after little or no thought. We show that these `highly active' or `decision cycles' processes can lead to excellent results at the cost of almost no thought. The paper examines the settings in which this effectiveness is possible, and lists a number of environmental features that are required for decision cycles to work well. Several research directions for analytical, laboratory, and field-based research are identified.
Keywords action-first strategies  decision cycles  disjointed incrementalism  feedback  heuristics  muddling through  social experimentation
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1008396500743
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