The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd


  • Herbert A. Simon
Reference work entry


‘Satisficing’ (choosing an option that meets or exceeds specified criteria but is not necessarily either unique or the best) is an alternative conception of rational behaviour to optimizing. It is an attractive alternative when genuine optima could be computed only with infeasible levels of effort, or when goals are incommensurable. The standards that determine ‘satisfactory’ may be determined by the adjustment of aspiration levels in response to experience. Satisficing may provide an improved representation of actual choice behaviour, but at the cost of less predictive power than optimizing theory.


Computation Convexity Incommensurability Linear programming Operations research Optimization Satisficing Search costs Stigler, G. 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Herbert A. Simon
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  1. 1.