Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 18 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Politics is a complex affair. Whether one is a legislator or a citizen, making political decisions is rarely easy. The question of how people deal with this complexity has been on the minds of scholars for decades, if not centuries. One important answer, which emerged in the 1970s, is that decision makers rely on heuristics to tame the intricacies of politics. Heuristics are (cognitive) shortcuts that allow decision makers to bypass a great deal of information while producing an output in the form of a judgment or choice. Often such outputs are indistinguishable from what a complete consideration of the decision-relevant information would have produced. At other times the outputs may not be optimal, but they are good enough. It can also happen, however, that heuristics introduce formidable biases and result in inferior decisions. This chapter reviews the literature on heuristics use by the mass public and political elites. It discusses the kinds of heuristics that are used, how they function, and why they are both inevitable and fallible. Finally, the chapter considers the normative implications of heuristics in political behavior.

Keywords: biases, bounded rationality, decision-making, heuristics, judgment, mass political behavior, motivation, political elites

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.