Heuristics, commonly defined as cognitive shortcuts or rules of thumb that simplify decisions, represent a process of substituting a difficult question with an easier one (Kahneman, 2003). They are simple efficient rules learned or hard coded by evolution that can help people make decision quickly.
Heuristics are strategies derived from previous experiences with similar problems. These strategies rely on using readily accessible, though loosely applicable, information to control problem solving in human beings, machines, and abstract issues.
The most fundamental heuristic is trial and error which can be used in everything from matching nuts and bolts to finding the values of variables in algebra problems.
When we are trying to solve a problem or make a decision, we often turn to these mental shortcuts (sometimes referred to as ‘chunking’) when we need a quick solution. However, Heuristics can also lead to cognitive biases.