It can be useful when trying to make a quick decision but it can also be limiting because it leads to close-mindedness such as in stereotypes. In this way, representativeness is basically stereotyping. Read on to understand the representativeness heuristic. When we use past experiences to make decisions, we are using heuristics. These decisions tend to be based on how similar an example is to something else (or how typical or representative the particular case in question is). Representativeness Heuristic. The Representative Heuristic. The representativeness heuristic is a cognitive heuristic wherein we assume commonality between objects of similar appearance. While often very useful in everyday life, it can also result in neglect of relevant base rates and other errors. Finally, the base-rate heuristic is a mental shortcut that helps us make a decision based on probability. As such, when we rely on a representativeness heuristic, we often wrongly judge that something is more representative than it actually is. This strategy seeks to identify a familiar object or event that is similar to the current situation and use the same methods to satisfy the current issue. A heuristic is simply a mental shortcut. A representativeness heuristic is a cognitive bias in which an individual categorizes a situation based on a pattern of previous experiences or beliefs about the scenario. The representativeness heuristic is a bias that comes from trying to understand information by categorizing. The representativeness heuristic is simply described as assessing similarity of objects and organizing them based around the category prototype (e.g., like goes with like, and causes and effects should resemble each other). The representativeness heuristic is a mental shortcut that helps us make a decision by comparing information to our mental prototypes. | See also | References . Representativeness Heuristic . Unfortunately, many examples of the representativeness heuristic involve succumbing to stereotypes. Explanations > Theories > Representativeness Heuristic. The representativeness heuristic is the tendency to make an instant decision based on readily available attributes such as looks, behavior, or current known facts. The representativeness heuristic can hinder accurate judgments of probability by emphasizing aspects of the event in question that are similar to the prototype or by masking other diagnostic information that demonstrates the event’s dissimilarity to the prototype. Rather than using relevant base rate information, participants showed a tendency to rely on prototypes when making this decision. Description | Example | So What? First, you have to understand what a heuristic is. The representativeness heuristic is a mental shortcut that helps us make a decision by comparing information to our mental prototypes. This heuristic is used because it is an easy computation. The representativeness heuristic is a shortcut that we use when attempting to estimate the odds of something being true, such as whether an interview profile came from a lawyer or an engineer. People tend to judge the probability of an event by finding a ‘comparable known’ event and assuming that the probabilities will be similar. Description. The problem arises from stereotyping in these situations. Representativeness is the extent to which an event is representative of its parent population. Representativeness Heuristic- The combined term then refers to the process of decision making or problem solving using a rule of thumb strategy. Representativeness bias is the reason why people create stereotypes. The representative heuristic was first identified by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman.. 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