An engaging explanation of the science behind Malcolm Gladwell's bestselling Blink
Gerd Gigerenzer is one of the researchers of behavioral intuition responsible for the science behind Malcolm Gladwell's bestseller Blink. Gladwell showed us how snap decisions often yield better results than careful analysis. Now, Gigerenzer explains why our intuition is such a powerful decision-making tool. Drawing on a decade of research at the Max Plank Institute, Gigerenzer demonstrates that our gut feelings are actually the result of unconscious mental processes that apply rules of thumb that we've derived from our environment and prior experiences. The value of these unconscious rules lies precisely in their difference from rational analysis they take into account only the most useful bits of information rather than attempting to evaluate all possible factors. By examining various decisions we make (how we choose a spouse, a stock, a medical procedure, or the answer to a million-dollar game show question) Gigerenzer shows how gut feelings not only lead to good practical decisions, but also underlie the moral choices that make our society function.
In the tradition of Blink and Freakonomics, Gut Feelings is an exploration of the myriad influences and factors (nature and nurture) that affect how the mind works, grounded in cutting-edge research and conveyed through compelling real-life examples.
Gigerenzer's theories about the usefulness of mental shortcuts were a small but crucial element of Malcolm Gladwell's bestseller Blink, and that attention has provided the psychologist, who is the director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, the opportunity to recast his academic research for a general audience. The key concept--rules of thumb serve us as effectively as complex analytic processes, if not more so--is simple to grasp. Gigerenzer draws on his own research as well as that of other psychologists to show how even experts rely on intuition to shape their judgment, going so far as to ignore available data in order to make snap decisions. Sometimes, the solution to a complex problem can be boiled down to one easily recognized factor, he says, and the author uses case studies to show that the Take the Best approach often works. Gladwell has in turn influenced Gigerenzer's approach, including the use of catchy phrases like the zero-choice dinner and the fast and frugal tree, and though this isn't quite as snappy as Blink, well, what is? Closing chapters on moral intuition and social instincts stretch the central argument a bit thin, but like the rest will be easily absorbed by readers. Illus. (July 9)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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July 05, 2007
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