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Decision Traps: The Ten Barriers to Decision-Making and How to Overcome Them Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Fireside; Reprint edition (October 15, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671726099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671726096
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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I judge a good book by how it makes you question what you do.
Robert Kirk
I write about scientific careers, and one of my favorite books is Decision Traps.
Bill F.
After reading it, I find the information to be very useful and practical.
Russell Conte

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By dgray on December 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read this book as part of a class in graduate school, and I found it to be quite practical, not only providing insights into ways that decisions can go wrong, but also steps that can be taken to reduce biases in your decisions due to errors in the process, although some of the strategies can only be effectively implemented at the organizational level.

I consulted this book because it was in two different bibliographies, one from my professor's notes, the other from Plous' book, "The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making." What I didn't realize until after I had read this book was that it has been updated and reissued under a different name, "Winning Decisions : Getting It Right the First Time." If I were buying it again, I would order the newer version.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Douglas C. Bates on August 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
I had the pleasure of taking Jay Russo's course at Cornell that he used to prototype this book. The course was great, and the book shows it. It's a readable, understandable guide to the primary psychological traps that make people make bad decisions. You'll be left with the feeling, "why didn't *I* notice that?"
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Shree on January 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
I came across a reference to this book in my Economics Textbook in my MBA. The name attracted and hence I bought this book.
This is an excellent book that explains how managers, however experienced, can become complacent and forget major steps in decision making. It really helped me to understand decision making as a process in a better manner than what I had already learnt.
I think that everyone who makes any major decisions, in whatever capacity, should read this book.
It helped me to think better.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Russell Conte on November 5, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book discusses ten common errors that people make in decision making, and how to avoid them. When I first saw this title, I was not that interested, because I wanted a book on how to make decisions, not on the errors that people make. After reading it, I find the information to be very useful and practical. This is one of my all time favorite books, I go back to it every so often, and even after reading it a few times I find myself making some of the errors that are discussed in the text. Hopefully I don't make as many as I used to! I know the ideas in this book have been a very substantial help in improving my decision making process, and I am getting better as time goes by. Very highly recommended!!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mary E. Sibley VINE VOICE on June 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
Most decisionmakers make the same kinds of error. There needs to be a frame for each problem. There should be avoidance of plunging in and relying too heavily on supposed good judgment. Drawing boundaries are part of framing the questions. Managers are apt to draw narrow boundaries.

Sometimes there is a failure to draw a boundary line. There is the sunken cost fallacy, basing current and future changes in operation on past expenditures for equipment. One is influenced by reference points in the the problem frame. Some decisions make sense through several different frames. In such a case there can be certainty that the decision is a good one.

Good communicators align their communications with the listeners' frames. Virtually all people put too much trust in their own opinions. Most people favor data supporting current belief. Wrongly we associate confidence with competence. One should be a realist when making a decision and an optimist when implementing it. Rules of thumb and other decisionmaking shortcuts are called heuristics. The disadvantages of intuitive decisionmaking are more profound than people realize.

Members of groups may agree prematurely on wrong decisions. Groups may suffer from too much cohesiveness, harmony, pressure, insulation, and strong leadership. In group think people practice self-censorship, pressure others, give in to an illusion of invulnerability and erroneous stereotyping. Groups composed of people of mixed types of personality are useful--receptive versus focused and thinking versus feeling types.

The book is written in veritable outline form, presumably to get the attention of busy managers. It has a extensive notes supplementing the text giving a student of business and other fields an opportunity to pursue related lines of inquiry.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bill F. on October 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
I write about scientific careers, and one of my favorite books is Decision Traps. I recommend this book to anyone who is facing a major career decision, and who would like to separate the emotion from the facts in the decision process. Too often we cloud our decisions with personal feelings and ill-conceived "rules of thumb." This book will help you eliminate decision shortcuts which traditionally DON'T lead to the best answer. It worked for me in my personal life as well. Really helps you understand how your mind works.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
Extremely readable,insightful and PRACTICAL. I found it difficult to put down! As a practitioner in the field of "human decisioning", I especially appreciated the decision-making tools provided in the book. I highly recommend Decision Traps to anyone who facilitates decision-making of individuals or groups.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Zinta Aistars on February 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
Despite this book having been published nearly two decades ago, an executive-level colleague at my office urged our team to read this book. Good advice stands the test of time. On reading the book, I agree--this has much good, common sense and sound insight to offer, although I had to wonder at much more recent studies I've read that advise something quite the opposite from what Russo and Schoemaker encourage. That is, take the time to consider the parameters of making good decisions.

Taking the time, however, is not what I've been reading in much more recently published books like Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking," which basically states that we need to tap into our inner wisdom, that storehouse of all the experience and observation we've accumulated over a lifetime (the longer the lifetime, presumably, the more wisdom stored), trust it, and make the "snap judgments" that actually hold up to often be our best decisions. Fascinating. Looking back on my own span of a lifetime, my best and worst decisions, I have to lean toward "Blink." That inner voice of wisdom does know. It is when I have ignored its red flags waving that I have made my worst decisions. And paid heavily for it.

That said, I tend to be cynical about any idea that leans too heavily one way or the other. Fads are based on swinging pendulums. The truth tends to be a balance of varied ideas and common ground, and in this, "Decision Traps" appeals to me. Russo and Schoemaker do not disparage the value of making the occasional off-the-cuff decision. There are those times that over thinking something, over analyzing, too much brain over heart (i.e.
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