THE PRINCIPLE OF LEAST EFFORT – George Kingsley Zipf

The principle of least effort is a broad theory that covers diverse fields from evolutionary biology to webpage design. It postulates that animals, people, even well designed machines will naturally choose the path of least resistance or “effort”. This is perhaps best known or at least documented among researchers in the field of library and information science. Their principle states that an information seeking client will tend to use the most convenient search method, in the least exacting mode available. Information seeking behavior stops as soon as minimally acceptable results are found. This theory holds true regardless of the user’s proficiency as a searcher, or their level of subject expertise. The principle of least effort is analogous to the path of least resistance. The principle was studied by linguist George Kingsley Zipf, author of this classic treatment of the subject. He theorized that the distribution of word use was due to the tendency to communicate efficiently with least effort and this theory is known as Zipf’s Law. See it here https://www.amazon.com/Human-Behavior-Principle-Least-Effort/dp/161427312X

#” each individual will adopt a course of action that will involve the expenditure of the least amount (probable) effort

# “principle of least effort as the primary principle that governs our entire individual and collective behaviour of all sorts, including the behavious

of our language and preconceptions”

# “a person in solving his immediate problems will view these against the background of his probable future problems, as estimated by himself. Moreover he

will strive to solve his problems in such a way as to minimise the total work that he must expend in solving both  his immediate problems and his probable

futur problems. That in turn means that the person will strive to minimse the probable average rate of work expenditure (over time). And in doing so he will

be minimising his effort ”

# “there is a potential general economy in the sheer existence of speech, in the sense that some human objectives are more easily obtained with speech than

without it”

# “the work of uttering a longer word is greater than the work of uttering a shorter one”

# “the easiest phonetic entities would be used more frequently ”

# “He will tend theoritically to weight the importance of the events of the future ever less as those events lie ever further in the future ” (showed

empirically in book – also states we have a “bias of the near present” much like the bear hibernates in order to be able to live in the winter months)

# “An organism must at every moment seekct a course of action in which its work of the present plus its porbable work of the future is minimised ”

#¬† “In ancient times the 3 questions were asked of anything : 1)what do u think? 2) why do you think so? 3) what difference does it make ?

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