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Gut Feelings: Short Cuts to Better Decision Making [Paperback]

Gerd Gigerenzer
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 Aug 2008

In Gut Feelings: Short Cuts to Better Decision Making psychologist and behavioural expert Gerd Gigerenzer reveals the secrets of fast and effective decision-making.

A sportsman can catch a ball without calculating its speed or distance. A group of amateurs beat the experts at playing the stock market. A man falls for the right woman even though she's 'wrong' on paper. All these people succeeded by trusting their instincts - but how does it work?

As Gerd Gigerenzer explains, in an uncertain world, sometimes we have to ignore too much information and rely on our brain's 'short cut', or heuristic. By explaining how intuition works and analyzing the techniques that people use to make good decisions - whether it's in personnel selection or heart surgery - Gigerenzer will show you the hidden intelligence of the unconscious mind.

'Fascinating and provocative ... Gut Feelings may well be the recipe for a simpler, less stressful life'
  Sunday Times

'Gigerenzer's writing is catchily optimistic and slyly funny ... Devilish'
  Steven Poole, Guardian

'The science behind the phenomenon cited in the bestseller Blink ... useful and clearly written'
  Business Week

'Gigerenzer is brilliant'
  Stephen Pinker

Gerd Gigerenzer is Director of the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and former Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago. He has published two academic books on heuristics, Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart and Bounded Rationality: The Adaptive Toolbox as well as a popular science book, Reckoning with Risk.


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Gut Feelings: Short Cuts to Better Decision Making + Risk Savvy: How To Make Good Decisions + Reckoning with Risk: Learning to Live with Uncertainty
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (28 Aug 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141015918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141015910
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 13.1 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Fascinating and provocative . Gut Feelings may well be the recipe for a simpler, less stressful life (Sunday Times)

Gigerenzer's writing is catchily optimistic and slyly funny . devillish (Steven Poole Guardian)

About the Author

Gerd Gigerenzer is Director of the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and former Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago. He has published two academic books on heuristics, Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart and Bounded Rationality: The Adaptive Toolbox and Reckoning with Risk.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By DigiTAL
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an interesting counterpoint to the heuristics and biases literature, best summarised in Daniel Kahneman's recent "Thinking, Fast and Slow", which lists the systematic errors that people make in decision making.

Gigerenzer has a much sunnier view of heuristics (the technical term for shortcuts in decision-making), pointing out how decisions can actually be improved by focusing on less information. His two most persuasive examples are how to catch a ball (keep your eyes on the ball and run so the angle is constant), and dealing with potential heart attack sufferers (provide a simple check-list with clear instructions for doctors to follow). In both these cases simplicity trumps more complex decision making.

Gigerenzer also provides explanations for two of the most well-known anomalies in Kahneman's and Tversky's work. The "Linda the feminist bank-teller" problem (Google it if you haven't heard of it), and "framing effects". The Linda anomaly is removed by a very simplistic rephrasing of the question, while Gigerenzer points out that in framing, linguistic phrases with the same logical meaning can contain cues about what someone is thinking.

But not all of Gigerenzer's examples are so persuasive. For example, he points out that portfolios of stocks based on the companies that individuals of the public recognise the best outperform mutual funds created by investment professionals. Gigerenzer argues that in this case the "recognition heuristic" is a powerful one. But there are much simpler explanations. If the stock market is "efficient", then any portfolio of similar risk would have equal odds of outperforming. A dart-throwing monkey would have as good a chance of beating the professionals.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Andrew Dalby VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Gigerenzer has written a book based on his startling experimental results that should change the way that all of us think and how all of us make decisions. He calls for a return to using our intuitive sides and demonstrates how this is much more efficient than the current trend to excessive rationalisation.

He uses some rules that I use myself to make decisions, when I know that my unconscious mind already knows what I want to do but he makes the reasons why these methods work concrete and shows that they are based on our evolution. Perhaps the most shocking result for my colleagues are that Bayesian reasoning - the ultimate rational sledge-hammer can be out-performed or at least equaled by these intuitive rules.

The sections on medical decision are very controversial and I am sure there are those who would argue strongly against them particularly his views on screening but overall it is an excellent and readable account of the field that would be useful to anyone involved in decision making or marketing in any business.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Humans Make Decisions 2 Jun 2009
Format:Paperback
It seems trite to say that this book is thought provoking but it is. On one level it helps you explore how in some circumstances you can make better, quicker decisions. At a deeper level it makes you call into question just who you thought you were. When asked, we expound at length about how we consider every possible angle and detail before carefully weighing it all up to arrive at the perfect decision. In reality it appears we often actually bypass the rationalising intellect - I suspect if we stop and experience this we come to realise we probably always knew this was how we actually did it. The conscious thinking part often comes after the fact, to justify to ourselves and others what we do instinctively.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but ultimately disappointing 13 Mar 2010
Format:Paperback
I bought this on the recommendation of a reviewer of "Blink", but I'm disappointed to say that it suffers from similar flaws. Early in the first chapter, Gigerenzer appears to frame the question that the book will try to answer: "...the real question is not *if* but *when* can we trust our guts?" However, no clear answer to this question is then proffered. The research and anecdotes which follow are interesting in themselves (to a point), but the book would benefit from Gigerenzer commencing each example with a clear statement of the proposition(s) that he seeks to draw from it (and how those propositions contribute to answering the core question).

The later chapters are weaker, with Gigerenzer introducing a number of topics with no clear thread running through them (yes it's very interesting that the Berlin Wall fell due to a rumour that it had already fallen, but what does that have to do with the rest of the book?). He also drops the odd clanger e.g. "Your brother shares half of your genes...". The correct answer is between c.99% and 100% and, even if you ignore the commonality of genes in unrelated humans and focus on direct chromosomal inheritance, the answer is between 0% and 100% (depending principally on the lottery of meiosis). To draw the conclusion that "...from your genes' point of view, the lives of two brothers are as good as yours, but those of three are better" is therefore questionable at best.

Some obvious questions arising from the research go unanswered. For example, Magistrates' decision making: why is it not the case that there exist high correlation rates with decisions of prosecutors/police because there are strong underlying reasons for the prior decision(s) (or indeed one good reason, which Gigerenzer tells us is often enough).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Gut Feelings: Short Cuts to Better Decision Making
I was looking for guidance in intuitive thinking in the spiritual sense, and it was far too technical for me.
Published 2 months ago by Wynne
5.0 out of 5 stars Good accessible book
I wish this type of research has more bearing in clinical psychology. It is very laboratory like, but has some great places in applied psychology to have an impact. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Tim
3.0 out of 5 stars two aspects
Very good on its critical side, bringing out the shortcomings of received wisdoms.The points are made clearly, with striking and memorable examples to illustrate them. Read more
Published 14 months ago by willow
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opener1
A stunning and deeply emotive read. Which makes me compelled to take a second look at things now and not to take what I read in the papers, watch on TV etc, at face value. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Gordy
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insights
This is a straightforward read for a lay person, but it comes with an impeccable academic pedigree. Herr Gigerenzer makes his points convincingly and succinctly in this thought... Read more
Published on 4 Oct 2011 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond rationality/irrationality
Gerd is a genius, and makes clear how we all use rules of thumb (heuristics) to get through life. In fact, they often work better than a carefully thought out 'rational' approach. Read more
Published on 1 Aug 2011 by chriswi
5.0 out of 5 stars Gut Feelings
One of my best reads of 2009. This is the science behind the more journalistic 'Blink'. Short and well written without dumbing down and shows why 'instrumentalism' is a dead end.
Published on 12 Mar 2010 by R. SLATER
2.0 out of 5 stars Ambiguous title - check before buying
This is a well written and researched book and will appeal to a lot of people but if, like me, you were steered towards it because of interest in 'intuitive' practices in the... Read more
Published on 3 Mar 2010 by Minerva
5.0 out of 5 stars Annotated study on the value of instinctive responses over rational...
According to Freud and other intellectuals and philosophers, intuition is unsound and has no merit. Freud warns not to put any value on gut feelings. Read more
Published on 25 Aug 2009 by Rolf Dobelli
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