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Herbert Simon's decision-making approach: Investigation of cognitive processes in experts

Campitelli, G. and Gobet, F. (2010) Herbert Simon's decision-making approach: Investigation of cognitive processes in experts. Review of General Psychology, 14 (4). pp. 354-364.

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Herbert Simon's research endeavor aimed to understand the processes that participate in human decision making. However, despite his effort to investigate this question, his work did not have the impact in the “decision making” community that it had in other fields. His rejection of the assumption of perfect rationality, made in mainstream economics, led him to develop the concept of bounded rationality. Simon's approach also emphasized the limitations of the cognitive system, the change of processes due to expertise, and the direct empirical study of cognitive processes involved in decision making. In this article, we argue that his subsequent research program in problem solving and expertise offered critical tools for studying decision-making processes that took into account his original notion of bounded rationality. Unfortunately, these tools were ignored by the main research paradigms in decision making, such as Tversky and Kahneman's biased rationality approach (also known as the heuristics and biases approach) and the ecological approach advanced by Gigerenzer and others. We make a proposal of how to integrate Simon's approach with the main current approaches to decision making. We argue that this would lead to better models of decision making that are more generalizable, have higher ecological validity, include specification of cognitive processes, and provide a better understanding of the interaction between the characteristics of the cognitive system and the contingencies of the environment.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: SAGE
Copyright: © 2019 by the American Psychological Association Division 1
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