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Representativeness Heuristic – 2023

Representativeness Heuristic – 2023

Representativeness Heuristic – 2023: It is a cognitive bias that occurs while assessing the likelihood of an event by comparing its similarity to an existing mental prototype. This bias includes comparing whatever we’re evaluating to a situation, prototype, or stereotype we already have in mind. Our brains frequently weigh this comparison much more heavily than other relevant factors. So, this shortcut can be helpful in some cases, but it can also lead to errors in judgment and inaccurate thinking.

Have you ever made a snap judgment about someone based on their appearance or personality? This type of assessment exemplifies the representativeness heuristic.

Representativeness Heuristic – 2023

Representativeness Heuristic - 2023 (1)

In the existing literature, the representativeness heuristic is commonly viewed as a cause of asset price overreaction to new information. This article proves that the representativeness heuristic can cause asset price underreaction to further knowledge in a competitive securities market. Specifically, there is one risk-free asset and one risky asset. Rational and heuristic traders can trade against each other or against noise traders whose demand is random.

The payoff of the risky asset is unknown, but all traders receive an informational signal about the risky asset’s gain before any trading occurs. So, due to the representativeness heuristic, the updated mean of the risky asset’s payoff for heuristic traders is higher (lower) than that for rational traders when the understanding of the informational signal is above (below) the probable gain of the risky asset. This study’s results suggest that noise traders are unrelated to net buyers or sellers. Therefore, the representativeness heuristic causes the asset price to overplay new information close to the expected payoff of the risky asset and also causes the asset price to underreact to new information far above or below the expected gain of the risky investment.

Why Does the Representativeness Heuristic Occur?

Psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman first discover representativeness heuristic in the 1970s. They found that people often rely on stereotypes and simplifications when making judgments and decisions because it is quicker and easier than considering all the related information. In other words, our brains are wired to take shortcuts when processing data.

When determining the probability that an object X belongs to a category Y, our brain often relies on the representativeness heuristic. Essentially, we rely on the perceived similarity between X and Y to make this judgment, frequently giving it more weight than relevant factors.

Difference Between Heuristic And Bias First

Difference Between Heuristic And Bias First

Thanks to Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, two psychologists, heuristics and cognitive biases gained much attention, especially in business and organization circles. They planned that preconceptions and heuristics change people’s judgment, affecting decision-making and severe thinking.

A heuristic is a mental shortcut that allow us to make decisions quickly and professionally. Although time-efficient and helpful in various situations, a heuristic is a background for biases.

An intellectual bias is a defined concept about something or someone that may not necessarily reflect reality. It’s a systematic error in thinking that affects decisions and judgments.

There are three types of heuristics, two of which are the most commonly recurring—availability and representativeness heuristic.

Look for Base Rate Information – Representativeness Heuristic – 2023

Take the time to gather information about how often certain events occur in general, not just in the specific example you are considering. Also, this process can help you avoid making snap judgments based on similarity and the representativeness heuristic.

1. Be Mindful of Your Mental Prototypes                                                                                                

Be aware of the examples and categories you have in your mind when making judgments. Try to approach each situation with an open mind and avoid skipping conclusions based on surface-level similarities.

2. Use Statistical Thinking

Try to think probabilistically and logically when making judgments rather than relying solely on similarity. The representativeness heuristic shortcircuits these aspects of mental evaluation.

3. Seek Out Diverse Perspectives

Exposure to a wide variety of perspectives and experiences can help to challenge your assumptions and reduce reliance on stereotypes and prototypes. Seek out diverse viewpoints and actively try to understand different perspectives.

4. Slow Down

The representativeness heuristic often occurs when we make quick, snap judgments without taking the time to consider all available information carefully. By being aware of the representativeness heuristic and using these strategies to avoid it, you can make more informed and accurate judgments in a wide range of situations.

Availability Bias Vs. Representativeness Bias

Availability Bias Vs. Representativeness Bias (1)

Both availability and representativeness heuristics rely on memory, making confusing the two easy. How easily examples come to your mind, i.e., readily available instances. The availability heuristic is when you judge something or someone depending on.

For example, you hear the news of increasing deaths because of the COVID-19 pandemic. You’re unlikely to step outside and interact with anyone because you don’t want to risk it. It depends on your memory of specific instances and the information you’ve been exposed to. On the other hand, the representativeness heuristic relies on your memory of particular cases, but it has more to do with a stereotype, prototype, or average.


The Representativeness heuristic, also known as representativeness bias, is a type of mental shortcut we use to judge the probability of an event or object. In other words, we jump to conclusions about something or someone based on how representative the particular case is. Representativeness is stereotyping when the similarity between events and objects confuses people about the probability of an result.

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