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What is the impact of the representativeness heuristic on problem-solving?

The representativeness heuristic can lead to biases and errors in problem-solving.

The representativeness heuristic is a mental shortcut where people make judgments based on how closely something resembles a typical example or prototype. This can be useful in some situations, such as when identifying a new species based on its similarities to known species. However, it can also lead to biases and errors in problem-solving.

One example is the base rate fallacy, where people ignore statistical information about the likelihood of an event and instead rely on how representative it seems. For example, if a person assumes that a shy, introverted person is more likely to be a librarian than a truck driver, simply because librarians are seen as more stereotypically introverted, they are ignoring the fact that there are many more truck drivers than librarians.

Another example is the conjunction fallacy, where people assume that a specific combination of events is more likely than one of the individual events alone, simply because it seems more representative. For example, if a person assumes that a feminist bank teller who is active in the community is more likely than a feminist bank teller alone, they are ignoring the fact that being active in the community is not a necessary characteristic of being a feminist bank teller.

Overall, the representativeness heuristic can lead to errors in problem-solving by causing people to rely too heavily on stereotypes and ignore important statistical information. It is important to be aware of these biases and to use a variety of problem-solving strategies to avoid them.

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