How do people navigate uncertainty, continuously making near-effortless decisions under conditions of imperfect knowledge, high complexity, and time pressure? Taming Uncertainty argues that the human mind has developed three types of tools to grapple with different types of uncertainty: simple heuristics, tools for information search, and tools for harnessing the wisdom of others. This set of strategies for making predictions, inferences, and decisions constitute the mind's adaptive toolbox. The authors argue that the toolbox, its cognitive foundation, and the environment are in constant flux and subject to developmental change, and that each cognitive tool can be analyzed in terms of its ecological rationality—that is, the fit between specific tools and specific environments. Chapters deal with instances of decision making such as food choice architecture, intertemporal choice, financial uncertainty, pedestrian navigation, and adolescent behavior.

Hertwig, R., Pleskac, T. J., Pachur, T., & The Center for Adaptive Rationality (2019). Taming uncertainty. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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Interactive Elements

Chapter 2

Create your own decision problems and conduct simulations with several decision strategies to explore their performance under risk and under uncertainty.

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Chapter 3

Experience different ways we have studied how people learn risk—reward structures.

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Chapter 4

Illustration of the diminishing accuracy-gain associated with an increasing size of the social sample.

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Chapter 5 | Element 1

How ecologically rational are these decision policies in strategic decision making?

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Chapter 5 | Element 2

Define the decision rules in a population and see how they perform.

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Chapter 6

Estimate how much sugar is in your favourite foods—will you fare better than other readers?

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Chapter 7 | Element 1

Does it make a difference whether you learn by description or experience?

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Chapter 7 | Element 2

Explore the data of the Meta analysis and understand the parameters as the plot updates as you change.

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Chapter 8

Explore the shape of CPT’s weighting function and use it to account for empirical data.

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Chapter 9

Intertemporal choice: Can you wait for answers to your deepest questions from the Magic 8-Ball?

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Chapter 10 | Element 1

Face financial uncertainty learning from experience or description.

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Chapter 10 | Element 2

Try out some tools to help you navigate financial uncertainty.

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Chapter 11

Demonstration illustrating the difference between rule-based and exemplar-based strategies.

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Chapter 12

Try to find and claim the best options before your competitors.

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Chapter 13

Take part in the wisdom of crowds.

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Chapter 14

See what happens when crowds have to choose between two exits.

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Chapter 15

Watch computational evolution in real time.

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Find definitions for key terms in the book.

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Online Supplementary Material

View and download the digital supplements for chapters 2 and 7 here.

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Imprint and References

Imprint and references to ressources of other authors.

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