Posts in Category: review

Paper: Heuristics for financial regulation

It simply wasn’t true that a world with almost perfect information
was very similar to one in which there was perfect information.
J. E. Stiglitz (2010). Freefall: America, free markets,
and the sinking of the world economy, p. 243



Hansjörg Neth, Björn Meder, Amit Kothiyal, Gerd Gigerenzer

Homo heuristicus in the financial world: From risk management to managing uncertainty

Abstract: What — if anything — can psychology and decision science contribute to risk management in financial institutions? The turmoils of recent economic crises undermine the assumptions of classical economic models and threaten to dethrone Homo oeconomicus, who aims to make decisions by weighing and integrating all available information. But rather than proposing to replace the rational actor model with some notion of biased, fundamentally flawed and irrational agents, we advocate the alternative notion of Homo heuristicus, who uses simple, but ecologically rational strategies to make sound and robust decisions. Based on the conceptual distinction between risky and uncertain environments this paper presents theoretical and empirical evidence that boundedly rational agents prefer simple heuristics over more flexible models. We provide examples of successful heuristics, explain when and why heuristics work well, and illustrate these insights with a fast and frugal decision tree that helps to identify fragile banks.  We conclude that all members of the financial community will benefit from simpler and more transparent products and regulations.

Chapter: The cognitive basis of arithmetic

The truths about numbers are in us; but still we learn them.
G.W. Leibniz (1765), Nouveaux essais sur l’entendement humain, p. 85

[Copyright, 2010]:

Helen De Cruz, Hans Neth, Dirk Schlimm (2010). The cognitive basis of arithmetic.

Helen De Cruz, Hansjörg Neth, Dirk Schlimm

The cognitive basis of arithmetic

Overview:  Arithmetic is the theory of the natural numbers and one of the oldest areas of mathematics.  Since almost all other mathematical theories make use of numbers in some way or other, arithmetic is also one of the most fundamental theories of mathematics.  But numbers are not just abstract entities that are subject to mathematical ruminations — they are represented, used, embodied, and manipulated in order to achieve many different goals, e.g., to count or denote the size of a collection of objects, to trade goods, to balance bank accounts, or to play the lottery. Consequently, numbers are both abstract and intimately connected to language and to our interactions with the world.  In the present paper we provide an overview of research that has addressed the question of how animals and humans learn, represent, and process numbers.

Chapter: The functional task environment

Human beings, viewed as a behaving system, are quite simple.
The apparent complexity of our behavior over time is largely a reflection
of the complexity of the environment in which we find ourselves.
(Simon, 1996, p. 53)

Wayne D. Gray, Hansjörg Neth, Michael J. Schoelles

The functional task environment

From the introduction:  Although human thought may be possible in those floatation tanks that are used to encourage meditative states, in by far the majority of instances thought occurs in the context of some physical task environment. The physical environment can be as simple as a light and book. It can be as complex as the face of a mountain and the equipment of the climber. It may be as dynamic as the cockpit of an F-16 in supersonic flight and as reactive as a firefight in Iraq or as heated as an argument between lovers.