Qualitative heuristics for balancing the pros and cons


Balancing the pros and cons of two options is undoubtedly a very appealing decision procedure, but one that has received scarce scientific attention so far, either formally or empirically. We describe a formal framework for pros and cons decisions, where the arguments under consideration can be of varying importance, but whose importance cannot be precisely quantified. We then define eight heuristics for balancing these pros and cons, and compare the predictions of these to the choices made by 62 human participants on a selection of 33 situations. The Levelwise Tallying heuristic clearly emerges as a winner in this competition. Further refinements of this heuristic are considered in the discussion, as well as its relation to Take the Best and Cumulative Prospect Theory.

Theory and Decision
JF Bonnefon
JF Bonnefon
Behavioral Scientist