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Gut Feelings: Short Cuts to Better Decision Making Paperback – 28 Aug 2008

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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: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 266,092 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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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By DigiTAL on 5 Feb. 2012
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Stephen Rothwell on 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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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By M. Kelly on 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Dalby VINE VOICE on 6 Dec. 2009
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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