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Gerd Gigerenzer (born September 3, 1947, Wallersdorf) is a German psychologist who has studied the use of bounded rationality and heuristics in decision making, especially in medicine. A critic of the work of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, he argues that heuristics should not lead us to conceive of human thinking as riddled with irrational cognitive biases, but rather to conceive rationality as an adaptive tool that is not identical to the rules of formal logic or the probability calculus.[1]

With Daniel Goldstein he first theorized the recognition heuristic. Gigerenzer was the winner of the 1991 AAAS Prize for Behavioral Science Research.[2]

He has written several books on the subject of heuristics and decision making, including Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart (1999), and Bounded Rationality: The Adaptive Toolbox (2001) with Reinhard Selten. His two books for a lay audience, Reckoning with Risk: Learning to Live with Uncertainty (2002, published in the U.S. as Calculated Risks: How to Know When Numbers Deceive You), and Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious (2007), have been translated into 18 languages. "Rationality for Mortals", his most recent book, investigates decisions under limited time and information. He has trained U.S. Federal Judges, German physicians, and top managers in decision making and understanding risks and uncertainties.

Gigerenzer is currently director at Max Planck Institute for Human Development and former Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago and John M. Olin Distinguished Visiting Professor, School of Law at the University of Virginia. He is also the director of the Harding Center for Risk Literacy, Berlin, Batten Fellow at the Darden Business School, University of Virginia, and Fellow of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. He is married to Lorraine Daston, director at Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and has one daughter, Thalia Gigerenzer.


  1. Gigerenzer, "Bounded and Rational" in R.J. Stainton (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science (Blackwell, 2006), p. 129.
  2. History & Archives: AAAS Prize for Behavioral Science Research

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