Lesson 1.2

How Heuristics Work

Watch the following video, then proceed to the Key Concepts and Exercise below:


Key Concepts:


Heuristics are how we approach things in life. They’re our “rules of thumb” or strategies.

  • When it comes to collaboration, we can think of heuristics as problem-solving approaches.

  • Sticking two boards together with velcro, and sticking two boards together with nails, are two different heuristics for solving the same problem.

Heuristics are the second 1/2 of our problem-solving “mental toolkit.”

  • If perspective is how we see and encode a problem, heuristics are how we try to tackle it.

  • It’s possible to have lots of different heuristics for something, just as it’s possible to look at something from multiple perspectives.

How do you tell if someone has different heuristics in their brain for something than you have? We can guess… or ask.

  • We learn heuristics through formal and informal education. A nurse will have some different heuristics than a piano tuner.

  • We also develop heuristics just by navigating life.

Both visible and non-visible traits contribute to our developing of different heuristics in our lives.

  • If you are tall, you may have developed different techniques for playing basketball than someone who is short, and has had to work extra hard to reach the basket.

  • Research shows that, for example, police officers who have been less physically strong than their peers growing up often tend to develop good negotiation heuristics; meanwhile, their beefier counterparts often develop heuristics that make good use of their size.

  • If you grew up in a 10-person family, you may have developed heuristics for negotiating with (or for hiding candy from) kids that your single-child peers have not.

  • If you grew up in a society where your racial group was minoritized, you may have developed heuristics for defusing tense situations that your peers in majority groups have not.


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