Coherence and Correspondence Criteria for Heuristics
Keywords:Ecological rationality, Expected utility, Transitivity, Independence, Priority Heuristic, Simulations
The ecological approach to rationality involves evaluating choice processes instead of choices themselves, and there are good reasons for doing this. Proponents of the ecological approach insist that objective performance criteria (such as monetary gains) replace axiomatic criteria, but this claim is highly contentious. This paper investigates these issues through a case study: 12 risky choice processes are simulated, and their performance records are compared. The first criterion is conformity to the Expected Utility axioms; the Priority Heuristic stands out for frequently violating Transitivity. Next, the Expected Value criterion is applied. Minimax performs especially poorly—despite never violating an axiom—highlighting the tension between axiomatic (coherence) and objective (correspondence) criteria. Finally, I show that axiom violations carry high costs in terms of expected value. Accordingly, coherence does not guarantee objectively high performance, but incoherence does guarantee diminished performance.