Heuristics in the Workplace

Topics: Daniel Kahneman, Heuristic, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Pages: 3 (995 words) Published: March 11, 2009
Representative Heuristic in the workplace

Heuristics in the Workplace

In 1974, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman proposed that when people make decisions, they will apply general “rules of thumb” which are called heuristics. The following will discuss one of three heuristics. It will apply the heuristic to a workplace scenario and offer a solution on how to persuade another to reach alternate conclusion.

Which type(s) of heuristic(s) may be present in formulating your co-workers opinion? Explain how you came to your conclusions (support your findings). In 1974 Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman proposed that people will implement heuristics, general rules of thumb, when making decisions (Plous, 1993). The representative heuristic for example tells us that people will tend to determine the probable outcome of an event, by comparing it to a similar one. In other words, the probable outcome will be determined by “the degree to which A is representative of B” (Plous, 1993). We will then surmise a person’s character and/or background based on a similar experience. For example, if a young woman has long blond hair, and is seen driving a Mercedes Benz, she must be wealthy (even though she might actually just be driving a friend’s car). The representative heuristic works in concert with the conjunctive fallacy. People tend to view the likelihood that the quantity of events is relevant to the quantity of probability. Such that, a run of good luck means it will be followed by a run of bad luck. In the work environment, the representative heuristic and conjunctive fallacy is prevalent. For better or worse, as new people enter into our work lives, we will tend to “classify” them into a category, so we can grasp an understanding of whom they are, how to interact with them. The representative heuristic, though common in the workplace, can be a very damaging “rule of thumb” to practice. Laws which govern discrimination and...

References: Changingminds (2008), Representative Heuristic, retrieved 1/25/09,
Plous, Scott (1993). The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making. Ch 10, pg 109-
113, McGraw-Hill, Inc.
Rosenfeld, L (2002) Avoid Discrimination in Hiring Practices, retrieved 1/25/09,
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