12 Types of Heuristics

Submitted by Jesse Mutzebaugh on 10/18/2013 - 02:56:pm

Take a look at Buzzword Wednesdays: Heuristics for more information.

Common Reactions to Unknown Situations

There are Several ways a person will try to figure something out or learn your site. This post was adapted from yourdictionary to help you understand what heuristics is. I thought it would be helpful to give real-life examples. Here are some of the ways they may approach interacting with your site:

Educated guess. User reaches a conclusion without exhaustive research. With an educated guess a user considers what they have observed in the past, and applies that history to a situation where a more definite answer has not yet been decided.

Rule of thumb. Applies a broad approach to problem solving. It is a simple heuristic that allows an individual to make an approximation without having to do exhaustive research.

Absurdity. An approach to a situation that is very atypical and unlikely – in other words, a situation that is absurd. This particular heuristic is applied when a claim or a belief seems silly, or seems to defy common sense.

Consistency. User responds to a situation in way that allows them to remain consistent.

Common. Applied to a problem based on a user's observation of a situation. It is a practical and prudent approach that is applied to a decision where the right and wrong answers seems relatively clear cut.

Contagion. Causes a user to avoid something that is thought to be bad or contaminated. For example, when eggs are recalled due to a salmonella outbreak, one might apply this simple solution and decide to avoid eggs altogether to prevent sickness.

Availability. Allows a user to judge a situation on the basis of the examples of similar situations that come to mind, allowing the user to extrapolate to the situation in which they find themselves.

Working backward. Allows a user to solve a problem by assuming that they have already solved it, and working backward in their minds to see how such a solution might have been reached.

Familiarity. Allows a user to approach an issue or problem based on the fact that the situation is one with which the user is familiar, and so one should act the same way they acted in the same situation before.

Scarcity. Used when a particular object becomes rare or scarce. This approach suggests that if something is scarce, then it is more desirable to obtain.

Affect. When a user makes a snap judgment based on a quick impression. This heuristic views a situation quickly and decides without further research whether a thing is good or bad.  Naturally, this heuristic can be both helpful and hurtful when applied in the wrong situation.

Authority. Occurs when a user believes the opinion of a person of authority on a subject just because the individual is an authority figure. People apply this heuristic all the time in matters such as science, politics, and education. "Scientists confirmed recently that..." Fill in the blank and it sounds pretty convincing.