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Sully and the Gaze Heuristic

Geoff Riley

20th December 2016

Sully directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks is a gripping and multi-layered recounting of the remarkable landing of a American Airlines plane on the icy Hudson River.

Students who are aware of and interested in heuristics as part of their behavioural economics lessons will understand how the Captain used his huge experience of over 40 years in flight to harness the gaze heuristic in deciding that he could not land at nearby airports, opting instead to aim for the Hudson River.

What is a heuristic?

A heuristic is a method or technique that people use to help them make a decision or solve a problem more quickly. We often use the phrase rule of thumb to mean the same thing.

The outcome from using the heuristic may not be perfect or optimised, but is usually “good enough”.

The term was developed, along with bounded rationality and satisficing, by the cognitive scientist Herbert Simon.

Geoff Riley

Geoff Riley FRSA has been teaching Economics for over thirty years. He has over twenty years experience as Head of Economics at leading schools. He writes extensively and is a contributor and presenter on CPD conferences in the UK and overseas.

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