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Affect Heuristic

Definition

A judgment is said to be based on a heuristic when a person assesses a specified target attribute (e.g., the risk of an approaching stranger in the street) by substituting a related attribute that comes quickly to mind (e.g., intuitive feelings of fear or anxiety) for a more complex analysis (e.g., detailed reasons or calculations indicating why the risk is high or low).

The affect heuristic describes an aspect of human thinking whereby feelings serve as cues to guide judgments and decisions. In this sense, affect is simply a feeling of goodness or badness, associated with a stimulus object. Affective responses occur rapidly and automatically—note how quickly you sense the feelings associated with the word treasure or the word hate. Reliance on such feelings can be ...

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