Friday, October 28, 2011

Thinking, Fast And Slow By Daniel Kahneman

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and Slow
By Daniel Kahneman

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Product Description

Daniel Kahneman, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his seminal work in psychology that challenged the rational model of judgment and decision making, is one of our most important thinkers. His ideas have had a profound and widely regarded impact on many fields—including economics, medicine, and politics—but until now, he has never brought together his many years of research and thinking in one book.

In the highly anticipated Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities—and also the faults and biases—of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior. The impact of loss aversion and overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the challenges of properly framing risks at work and at home, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning the next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems work together to shape our judgments and decisions.

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Thinking, Fast and Slow will transform the way you think about thinking.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #9 in Books
  • Published on: 2011-10-25
  • Released on: 2011-10-25
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 512 pages
Editorial Reviews


"A major intellectual event . . . The work of Kahneman and Tversky was a crucial pivot point in the way we see ourselves." —David Brooks, The New York Times
"Kahneman provides a detailed, yet accessible, description of the psychological mechanisms involved in making decisions." —Jacek Debiec, Nature
"With Kahneman's expert help, readers may understand this mix of psychology and economics better than most accountants, therapists, or elected representatives. VERDICT A stellar accomplishment, a book for everyone who likes to think and wants to do it better." —Library Journal
"The mind is a hilariously muddled compromise between incompatible modes of thought in this fascinating treatise by a giant in the field of decision research. Nobel-winning psychologist Kahneman (Attention and Effort) posits a brain governed by two clashing decision-making processes. The largely unconscious System 1, he contends, makes intuitive snap judgments based on emotion, memory, and hard-wired rules of thumb; the painfully conscious System 2 laboriously checks the facts and does the math, but is so "lazy" and distractible that it usually defers to System 1. Kahneman uses this scheme to frame a scintillating discussion of his findings in cognitive psychology and behavioral economics, and of the ingenious experiments that tease out the irrational, self-contradictory logics that underlie our choices. We learn why we mistake statistical noise for coherent patterns; why the stock-picking of well-paid investment advisers and the prognostications of pundits are worthless; why businessmen tend to be both absurdly overconfident and unwisely risk-averse; and why memory affects decision making in counterintuitive ways. Kahneman's primer adds to recent challenges to economic orthodoxies about rational actors and efficient markets; more than that, it's a lucid, marvelously readable guide to spotting--and correcting--our biased misunderstandings of the world." —Publishers' Weekly (starred review)

"For anyone interested in economics, cognitive science, psychology, and, in short, human behavior, this is the book of the year. Before Malcolm Gladwell and Freakonomics, there was Daniel Kahneman who invented the field of behavior economics, won a Nobel…and now explains how we think and make choices. Here's an easy choice: read this." —The Daily Beast

"This book is one of the few that must be counted as mandatory reading for anyone interested in the Internet, even though it doesn't claim to be about that. Before computer networking got cheap and ubiquitous, the sheer inefficiency of communication dampened the effects of the quirks of human psychology on macro scale events. No more. We must now confront how we really are in order to make sense of our world and not screw it up. Daniel Kahneman has discovered a path to make it possible." —Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget

"Daniel Kahneman is one of the most original and interesting thinkers of our time. There may be no other person on the planet who better understands how and why we make the choices we make. In this absolutely amazing book, he shares a lifetime's worth of wisdom presented in a manner that is simple and engaging, but nonetheless stunningly profound. This book is a must read for anyone with a curious mind." —Steven D. Levitt, William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago; co-author of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics.

"Thinking, Fast and Slow is a masterpiece—a brilliant and engaging intellectual saga by one of the greatest psychologists and deepest thinkers of our time. Kahneman should be parking a Pulitzer next to his Nobel Prize." —Daniel Gilbert, Harvard University Professor of Psychology, author of Stumbling on Happiness, host of the award-winning PBS television series "This Emotional Life"

"This book is a tour de force by an intellectual giant; it is readable, wise, and deep. Buy it fast. Read it slowly and repeatedly. It will change the way you think, on the job, about the world, and in your own life." —Richard Thaler, University of Chicago Professor of Economics and co-author of Nudge

"This is a landmark book in social thought, in the same league as The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith and The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud."—Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan

"Daniel Kahneman is among the most influential psychologists in history and certainly the most important psychologist alive today. He has a gift for uncovering remarkable features of the human mind, many of which have become textbook classics and part of the conventional wisdom. His work has reshaped social psychology, cognitive science, the study of reason and of happiness, and behavioral economics, a field that he and his collaborator Amos Tversky helped to launch. The appearance of Thinking, Fast and Slow is a major event." —Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Better Angels of our Nature

About the Author

Daniel Kahneman is Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton University and a professor of public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He received the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his pioneering work with Amos Tversky on decision-making.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

45 of 56 people found the following review helpful.
5This is how you think
By Monica Andrews
Daniel Kahneman may have won his Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, but his work was psychological in nature as it challenged the rational model of judgment and decision-making. He's considered one of the most important psychologists alive today, and this book doesn't disappoint with its breakthrough approach to understanding the "machinery of the mind."

Kahneman introduces two mental systems, one that is fast and the other slow. Together they shape our impressions of the world around us and help us make choices. System 1 is largely unconscious and it makes snap judgments based upon our memory of similar events and our emotions. System 2 is painfully slow, and is the process by which we consciously check the facts and think carefully and rationally. Problem is, System 2 is easily distracted and hard to engage, and System 1 is wrong as often as it is right. System 1 is easily swayed by our emotions. Examples he cites include the fact that pro golfers are more accurate when putting for par than they are for birdie (regardless of distance), and people buy more cans of soup when there's a sign on the display that says "Limit 12 per customer."

Like a Malcolm Gladwell book, there are lots of interesting anecdotes as well as layman's summaries of psychological research that will leave you feeling fascinated by the brain. The book has 38 chapters broken into five sections. I've listed some of the chapter titles for each section to give you a feel for what it's about:

1. The Characters of the Story
2. Attention and Effort
3. The Lazy Controller
4. A Machine for Jumping to Conclusions
5. How Judgments Happen

6. The Law of Small Numbers
7. Availability, Emotion, and Risk
8. Tom W's Specialty
9. Linda: Less is More
10. Causes Trump Statistics
11. Taming Intuitive Predictions

12. The Illusion of Understanding
13. The Illusion of Vanity
14. Intuitions Vs. Formulas
15. Expert Intuition: When Can We Trust It?

16. Prospect Theory
17. Bad Events
18. Risk Policies
19. Keeping Score

20. Life as a Story
21. Experienced Well-Being

I just wish it would've shown how to keep my emotions from taking over. If you haven't read it yet, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is good for this.

29 of 37 people found the following review helpful.
5Definitive Behavioral Economics
By P. Narayan
Behavioral Economics is perhaps the most popular genre of non-fiction in the last decade. With bestsellers by the likes of Malcolm Gladwell, Steven D. Levitt, Dan Ariely, Richard Thaler, Tim Harford, and a number of other qualified journalists and academics, it seems as though the field contains an infinite wealth of fascinating material. And, it could be said, that all of this is due in large part to the work of Daniel Kahneman.

As a part of the pioneering team with Amos Tversky, Kahneman has practically shaped Behavioral Economics since the 1960s, when they began conducting experiments. This book brings together all of Kahneman's findings in one coherent study.

Since Kahneman's work has been so influential, a lot of the ideas presented here might not be new. Cognitive biases such as loss aversion, priming, and framing have all been presented and analyzed in nearly every Behavioral Economics book out there. But, while the ideas are not novel, it is rewarding to hear analysis from the original source of the studies. Kahneman provides insights into the rationale of the studies that other writers could not offer, and so this book seems more penetrative than the others. Where his successors string together pieces of interesting yet seemingly incoherent tid bits about cognition and behavior, Kahneman proposes a much more developed thesis on human cognition.

That thesis is summarized by the title--that there are two ways humans think and make decisions, "fast" and "slow," and that we cannot disregard either when considering people's thoughts and actions. The two ways can be described by a number of dichotomies: The first method of thinking is automatic, the second is controlled; the first is effortless, the second effortful; and so on. An easier way to describe the two systems would be to identify them as subconscious and conscious, though Kahneman does not explicitly make this description, perhaps because these concepts are so loaded with meaning.

Kahneman examines this concept by delving into the latest studies in the field and thus provides the avid Behavioral Economics reader a source of great new instances of it. The survey of cognitive errors includes research on the strange tendencies of golfers under stressful situations, parole officers after lunch, and shoppers under the influence of marketing ploys. As it has been in nearly all Behavioral Economics books, this material is absolutely fascinating and doesn't ever seem to lose its mystery.

Of course, despite being so fascinating, Behavioral Economics as a discipline has its flaws, and this book is no exception. In general, the flaws have to do with the fact that the studies assumed to prove various cognitive errors are rather abstract by nature and so rely on a number of qualifications to even be useful. In order to analyze behavior, for instance, there need to be objective standards for "right" and "wrong" actions, which I'm not sure has been investigated as thoroughly as it should. It is for this reason that far reaching claims about human behavior being irrational and the subsequent calls for changes in social structure (by whatever means) are typically unfounded and lead down a dangerous road of regulation and control (Thaler's Nudge and Ariely's Predictably Irrational come to mind). Kahneman does not jump to these conclusions, and certainly does not propose policy action a la Thaler or Ariely, but he does lay the groundwork for such ventures--after all, he is the pioneer. An equally fascinating, more macro approach to how psychology shapes economics is Juggernaut: Why the System Crushes the Only People Who Can Save It by Eric Robert Morse.

Altogether, this book does not suffer from this inherent flaw, and rather simply encourages more study and debate. And that might make it a classic in the field.

22 of 29 people found the following review helpful.
5Behavioral decision-making for eveyone.
By AdamSmythe
Daniel Kahneman, the author of this exceptional book, and Amos Tversky (who died in 1996) made economics and other disciplines a lot more realistic--and tougher--for economists, researchers and students. Prior to their work, economists and others maintained classical theories and explanations that relied on certain seemingly logical assumptions about human behavior. However, people don't always behave the way logic might suggest, for a variety of reasons that Kahneman (and Tversky) explained, starting in the 1970s. Today, the subject of behavioral decision-making is one of the more exciting ones in fields like economics, finance, medicine and even law, thanks to their pioneering work. In recognition of the impact of his work in economics, Kahneman, a cognitive psychologist and professor emeritus at Princeton, won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002, specifically for his work on prospect theory.

The title of this book comes from Kahneman's discussion of two simple models of how people think. "System 1" thinking corresponds to fast, intuitive, emotional and almost automatic decisions, though it sometimes leaves us at the mercy of our human biases. "System 2" thinking is more slow-going and requires more intellectual effort. To nobody's surprise, we humans are more likely to rely on System 1 thinking, because it saves us effort, even if it can lead to flawed thinking.

Here is a quick way Kahneman uses to illustrate System 1 and System 2 thinking. Suppose that a bat and ball together cost $1.10 and that the bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? Many people, relying mainly on System 1 thinking, will quickly say $1.00, but the correct answer is five cents. Think about it. One of the things that caught my attention is the author's explanation of how little control we actually have over our own System 1 responses and the degree to which our subconscious biases affect System 1 choices.

Basically, this book provides the reader an impressive overview of many key concepts in behavioral research, with lots of illuminating stories from Kahneman's work and experiences. Before you know it, you may find "heuristic" (a rule of thumb) working its way into your conversations.

Here is how the book is organized:

Part I, Two Systems: The characteristics of the story. Attention and effort. The lazy controller. The associative machine. Cognitive ease. Norms, surprises, and causes. A machine for jumping to conclusions. How judgments happen. Answering easier questions.

Part II, Heuristics and Biases: The law of small numbers. Anchors. The science of availability. Availability, emotion, and risk. Tom W's specialty. Linda: Less is more. Causes trump statistics. Regression to the mean. Taming intuitive predictions.

Part III, Overconfidence. The illusion of understanding. The illusion of validity. Intuitions versus formulas. Expert intuition: When can we trust it? The outside view. The engine of capitalism.

Part IV, Choices. Bernoulli's errors. Prospect theory. The endowment effect. Bad events. The fourfold pattern. Rare events. Risk policies. Keeping score. Reversals. Frames and reality.

Part V, Two Selves. Two selves. Life as a story. Experienced well-being. Thinking about life.

If behavioral research interests you, this is your book. There are other movers and shakers in the field, but Kahneman remains a pioneer and perhaps the most well-known proponent.

Here is one more example from Kahneman's work of some of the concepts the reader will encounter in this book. Suppose that Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. In college, she majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with the issues of discrimination and social justice, and she also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations. Which is more probable?

1. Linda is a bank teller.
2. Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement.

According to Kahneman, about 85% - 90% of undergraduates at several major universities chose the second option, that Linda was a bank teller and active in the feminist movement. However, this is an example of the "conjunction fallacy," since the probability of two events occurring together (in conjunction) must necessarily be less than the probability of either event occurring alone. Put simpler, the probability that Linda is a bank teller must be greater than the probability that she is a bank teller and active in feminist causes.

Okay, you hopefully have an idea about some of the ground covered in this book. I should also mention that there is blessedly little technical jargon in the book, so if you are new to the field of behavioral research you should be able to enjoy the book. Indeed, I think most people will get a lot from it.

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