Gerd Gigerenzer Does Logically Incoherent Decision-Making Really Have Negative Consequences?

Gerd Gigerenzer is Director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Director of the Harding Center for Risk Literacy, both in Berlin, Germany. His areas of interest include bounded rationality and social intelligence as well as decisions under uncertainty and time restrictions. For his work, he has received numerous awards, among them the AAAS Prize for Behavioral Science Research for the best article in the behavioral sciences, the Association of American Publishers Prize for the best book in the social and behavioral sciences, and the German Psychology Prize. Gigerenzer is also Batten Fellow at the Darden Business School, University of Virginia, and Fellow of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the German Academy of Sciences.

Area of Research

Rationality, Risk Communication, Decision-Making, Heuristics

Gerd Gigerenzer. "Towards a Rational Theory of Heuristics." In Minds, Models, and Milieux: Commemorating the Centennial of the Birth of Herbert Simon, edited by Roger Frantz and Leslie Marsh. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016: 34-59.  
Gerd Gigerenzer. "On the Supposed Evidence for Libertarian Paternalism." Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6 (2015): 361-383.  

since 1997


Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute for Human Development

since 2008


Harding Center for Risk Literacy, Berlin



Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research


Professor of Psychology

University of Chicago

Department of Psychology


Professor of Psychology

University of Salzburg (Universität Salzburg)


Professor of Psychology

University of Konstanz (Universität Konstanz)

(Chairman, 1988-1989)


Senior Lecturer

Ludwig Maximilian University Munich (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)

Department of Psychology


Assistant Professor

Ludwig Maximilian University Munich (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)

Department of Psychology


Habilitation in Psychology

Ludwig Maximilian University Munich (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)


PhD in Psychology

Ludwig Maximilian University Munich (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)


Diploma in Psychology

Ludwig Maximilian University Munich (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)

- American Journal of Psychology

- American Psychologist

- Behavioral and Brain Sciences

- Behavior Research Methods

- Instruments & Computers

- British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

- British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology

- British Medical Journal

- Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology

- Cognition

- Current Biology

- Decision

- Developmental Psychology

- Diabetologia

- Erlbaum Associates Publishers

- European Review of Social Psychology

- Evolution & Human Behavior

- History of the Human Sciences

- Human Behavior and Evolution

- Journal of Business Research

- Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied

- Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition

- Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance

- Journal of Experimental Psychology: General

- Journal of Mathematical Psychology

- Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

- Journal of Political Economy

- Journal of Risk and Uncertainty

- Journal of the Royal Society Interface

- Journal of Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease

- Judgment and Decision Making

- Lancet

- Methods of Psychological Research-Online

- Memory & Cognition

- Methodika

- MacArthur Foundation

- MIT Press

- New Ideas in Psychology

- Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

- Oxford University Press

- Perceptual & Motor Skills

- Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

- Perspectives on Psychological Science

- Philosophical Papers


- Psychological Bulletin

- Psychological Methods

- Psychological Review

- Psychological Science

- Psychological Science in the Public Interest

- Psychologische Beiträge

- Psychologische Rundschau

- Psychometrika

- Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

- Risk Analysis

- Royal Society Open Science

- SAGE Open

- Science

- Science Signaling

- Statistical Science

- Synthese

- Synthese

- Theory & Psychology

- Trends in Cognitive Sciences

- University of Michigan Press

- University of Pittsburgh Press

- Zeitschrift für Entwicklungspsychologie und Pädagogische Psychologie

- Zeitschrift für experimentelle und angewandte Psychologie

- Zeitschrift für Psychologie

- Zeitschrift für Sozialpsychologie

- Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

- Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychologie

- Economic & Social Research Council

- Humboldt Foundation Research Awards

- National Institute of Mental Health

- National Science Foundation

- Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research

- Österreichische Nationalbank

- Swiss National Science Foundation

- Volkswagen Stiftung


- International Member, American Philosophical Society (since 2016)

- Foreign Honory Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (since 2016)

- Rothschild Distinguished Visiting Professor, Isaac Newton Institute, Cambridge University (2016)

- President, Herbert Simon Society (since 2015)

- SAGE Fellow, University of California, Santa Barbara (2014)

- Patten Lecturer, Indiana University (2014)

- Fellow of the Cognitive Science Society (2012)

- Honorary Fellow, Institute for Risk Management, UK (2011)

- Honorary Doctorate, Open University of the Netherlands (2009)

- Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (APS) for Distinguished Contributions to Psychological Science (2008)

- Honorary Doctorate, University of Basel (2007)

- Honorary Professor, Humboldt University Berlin (since 2005)

- Batten Fellow, Darden Business School, University of Virginia, Charlottesville (since 2004)

- Professor of the University Society, University of Munich (since 2004)

- Member, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (since 2002)

- Member, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (since 2000)

- John M. Olin Distinguished Visiting Professor, School of Law, University of Virginia, Charlottesville (1999)

- Honorary Professor, Free University Berlin (since 1998)

- Fellow, Center for Interdisciplinary Research, Bielefeld, Germany (1991-1992)

- Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford (1989-1990)

- Visiting Fellow, Harvard University (1987-1988, 2002-2003)

- Visiting Professor, Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada (1985)

- Fellow, Center for Interdisciplinary Research, Bielefeld, Germany (1982-1983)


- Hufeland Award from the German Foundation for General Medicine (Stiftung Allgemeinmedizin) for Improving Knowledge and Transparency in Medicine (2015)

- Risk Savvy: How To Make Good Decisions shortlisted for the Better Life Award, National Multiple Sclerosis Society (2015)

- GIKA Distinguished Scholar Award in Information and Knowledge Science (2014)

- One of the Top100 Global Thought Leaders, Gottfried Duttweiler Institute (2013, 2012)

- Deutscher Psychologie-Preis (2011

- Outstanding Paper Award 2011, International Journal of Forecasting, for "Fast and Frugal Forecasting" (with D. G. Goldstein) (2011)

- Communicator Award of the DFG (German Research Foundation) and the Donors' Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities (2011)

- Marsilius Medal, Heidelberg University (2011)

- Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious Shortlisted for the Royal Society Prize for Science Books (2008)

- Business Book of the Year Prize (Wirtschaftsbuchpreis 2007) for Bauchentscheidungen (German Translation of Gut Feelings), Awarded by the Swiss Handelszeitung (2007)

- Science Book of the Year Prize (Wissenschaftsbuch 2007) for Bauchentscheidungen (German Translation of Gut Feelings), Awarded by Bild der Wissenschaft (2007)

- Reckoning with Risk Shortlisted for the Aventis Prize for Science Books (2003)

- Science Book of the Year Prize (Wissenschaftsbuch 2002) for Einmaleins der Skepsis (German Translation of Calculated Risks), Awarded by Bild der Wissenschaft (2002)

- AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Prize for Behavioral Science Research (1992)

- Academy Stipend, Awarded by the Volkswagen Foundation (1987,1988)

- Association of American Publishers Prize for the Best Book in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (The Probabilistic Revolution, MIT Press) (1987)

- Fritz Thyssen Foundation Prize for One of the Three Best German Journal Articles in the Social Sciences (for “Der eindimensionale Wähler,” Zeitschrift für Sozialpsychologie) (1984)

- European Union


- Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

- Joachim Herz Stiftung

- Volkswagen Foundation

- Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making

- Swiss National Fund

- Cassa Rurale, Italy

- National Science Foundations (NSF)

- University of Chicago

- Winton Capital

© Maximilian Dörrbecker

Max Planck Society

"The Max Planck Society is Germany's most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, no fewer than 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, putting it on a par with the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The more than 15,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at Max Planck Institutes – and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field." (Source)


Max Planck Institute for Human Development

"The Max Planck Institute for Human Development is dedicated to the study of human development and education. Researchers of various disciplines – including psychology, education, sociology and medicine, as well as history, economics, computer science and mathematics – work together on interdisciplinary projects at the Berlin Institute. The research questions they examine include how people make effective decisions even under time pressure and information overload, which effects the institution of school has on students’ development and learning processes, how the interaction between behaviour and brain function changes over the lifespan, as well as how human emotions change in a historical context and how they have affected the course of history itself." (Source)


As explained in this video it is commonly assumed that logically incoherent decision-making is irrational and costly in that it can lead e.g. to a decrease in happiness or health. An example for this would be a patient reacting differently if doctors speak of a 90% success rate of a surgery instead of a 10% failure rate for the same procedure. The purpose of the study presented here was to examine if there is proof in the existing literature that incoherent decision-making actually has negative consequences and is rightly seen as irrational. According to GERD GIGERENZER the findings suggest that the above mentioned assumption is not correct and that rationality needs to be re-defined in moving away from being based on strictly mathematical probabilities to taking context into account.

LT Video Publication DOI:

How Bad is Incoherence?

  • Hal R. Arkes, Gerd Gigerenzer and Ralph Hertwig
  • Decision
  • Published in 2016
Hal R. Arkes, Gerd Gigerenzer and Ralph Hertwig. "How Bad is Incoherence?" Decision 3 (2016): 20-39.