The Adaptive Character of Thought
This important volume examines the phenomena of cognition from an adaptive perspective. Rather than adhering to the typical practice in cognitive psychology of trying to predict behavior from a model of cognitive mechanisms, this book develops a number of models that successfully predict behavior from the structure of the environment to which cognition is adapted. The methodology -- called rational analysis -- involves specifying the information-processing goals of the system, the structure of the environment, and the computational constraints on the system, allowing predictions about behavior to be made by determining what behavior would be optimal under these assumptions. The Adaptive Character of Thought applies this methodology in great detail to four cognitive phenomena: memory, categorization, causal inference, and problem solving.
"Anderson has made an important methodological contribution by forcefully bringing the rational approach to the attention of cognitive psychologists."
—American Journal of Psychology
"This substantive book may give new direction to much research in cognitive science....Perhaps the most encouraging implication of this volume is that by its very departure from traditional approaches to cognitive science, it helps enforce the breadth and, by implication, the potential for adaptability of the discipline."