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The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics

Editor-in-Chief: Schipper, Burkhard

Ed. by Fong, Yuk-fai / Peeters, Ronald / Puzzello , Daniela / Rivas, Javier / Wenzelburger, Jan

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Satisficing: A 'Pretty Good' Heuristic

Jonathan Brodie Bendor / Sunil Kumar / David A Siegel
Published Online: 2009-03-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1935-1704.1478

One of the best known ideas in the study of bounded rationality is Simon's satisficing; yet we still lack a standard formalization of the heuristic and its implications. We propose a mathematical model of satisficing which explicitly represents agents' aspirations and which explores both single-person and multi-player contexts. The model shows that satisficing has a signature performance-profile in both contexts: (1) it can induce optimal long-run behavior in one class of problems but not in the complementary class; and (2) in the latter, it generates behavior that is sensible but not optimal. The model also yields empirically testable predictions: in certain bandit-problems it pins down the limiting probabilities of each arm's use, and it provides an ordering of the arms' dynamical use-probabilities as well.

Keywords: satisficing; heuristics; bounded rationality

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Published Online: 2009-03-31

Citation Information: The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, ISSN (Online) 1935-1704, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1935-1704.1478.

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