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How We Decide
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How We Decide [Unabridged] [Audible Audio Edition]

by Jonah Lehrer (Author), David Colacci (Narrator)
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (294 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

Since Plato, philosophers have described the decision-making process as either rational or emotional: we carefully deliberate or we "blink" and go with our gut. But as scientists break open the mind's black box with the latest tools of neuroscience, they're discovering that this is not how the mind works. Our best decisions are a finely tuned blend of both feeling and reason - and the precise mix depends on the situation. When buying a house, for example, it's best to let our unconscious mull over the many variables. But when we're picking a stock, intuition often leads us astray. The trick is to determine when to lean on which part of the brain, and to do this, we need to think harder (and smarter) about how we think.

Jonah Lehrer arms us with the tools we need, drawing on cutting-edge research by Daniel Kahneman, Colin Camerer, and others, as well as the real-world experiences of a wide range of "deciders" - from airplane pilots and hedge fund investors to serial killers and poker players. Lehrer shows how people are taking advantage of the new science to make better television shows, win more football games, and improve military intelligence. His goal is to answer two questions that are of interest to just about anyone, from CEOs to firefighters: How does the human mind make decisions? And how can we make those decisions better?

©2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.; (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
594 of 638 people found the following review helpful
Perhaps my expectations of one of my favorite authors/editors in Seed magazine and from his earlier book Proust Was a Neuroscientistwas too high...nevertheless, this book is a disappointment. Not that there is anything structurally or factually incorrect - it just doesn't add any value to a reader that is familiar with this field. The examples and studies mentioned in the book, for the most part, have been repeated many times in several books of this genre. Instead of providing additional insights or alternative interpretations, or any follow-ups to the experiments and studies, Lehrer, for the most part repeats the key points from these studies and attempts to make some points in the context of decision making. Despite best efforts, the book merely ends up reinforcing known and well-popularized concepts (even in popular literature) such as recency bias, cognitive dissonance, loss aversion, etc. If you have read books like Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness you will be hard pressed to find enough value in this book to invest in this. Other books such as ... Read more ›
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85 of 88 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What you should know before you buy this book March 4, 2013
Quoted from NPR: [...]

"Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has decided that disgraced journalist and author Jonah Lehrer's second book, How We Decide, will be taken off shelves at bookstores after the publisher's internal investigation uncovered "significant problems," The Daily Beast reports. Lehrer, who publicly apologized (in exchange for a substantial fee) last month for fabricating Bob Dylan quotes in his third book Imagine, resigned from The New Yorker in July. Imagine was pulled from shelves last year. The publisher didn't go into specifics about the problems with How We Decide, but Daily Beast's Michael Moynihan had previously flagged some "problematic passages.""

Sigh...I was looking forward to this read. Is originality dead?
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132 of 144 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but lightweight January 25, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book describes the neuroscience behind decision making, and in particular the various parts of the brain that are involved in different parts of problem analysis. It is filled with interesting examples from real world situations such as airplane near-disasters, poker playing, and Parkinson's patients, and uses these examples to illustrate various parts of our brain machinery.

The book is an easy read, interesting, and informative. It is, however, a lightweight read. Do not expect great depth into any of the studies -- it is more like a survey course or cliff notes in many respects. This makes it approachable for an audience without any science background, but it also left me wanting a lot more depth. I also found the concluding chapter to be forced... it didn't really have much to offer.

I am glad to have read the book, but I didn't walk away feeling amazed.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing read from a much lauded author July 29, 2009
I read this book because I am teaching a course in consumer behavior this fall and was wondering if this book might be worth making required or optional reading. Neuroscience and neuromarketing are gaining a lot of attention in the marketing field and I thought this could be a good introduction. Unfortunately, I was disapointed by this book. I agree with previous reviews that a lot of the content seems similar to books like Blink and Buyology. I love colloquial examples but I couldn't help feeling like I had heard these exact same stories and examples before. Granted, this is less of an issue if you've never read a book on neuroscience, neuromarketing or decision making, but I would have expected the author to source more examples that are less common.

I think I would have had less of an issue with the similar content if the book was told in a way that was compelling and interesting. However, this was just not the case for me. I found that the storytelling paled in comparison to books like Buyology and Blink. It's completely subjective but there was just nothing pushing me along to keep me engaged in the book. I generally have a high tolerance for dry writing but I found myself consistently putting this down and having to encourage myself to pick it back up. Granted, reading examples I had heard before probably contributed to this, but the writing didn't help in my opinion either. I think the one strength of this book is that it is very well researched and it is clear that Lehrer really knows what he is talking about.

Overall I think this book was just too similar to others I had read on similar topics and not written as compellingly as those books either.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and insightful
Despite the controversy about the author, this was a great collection of insights into how people make decisions. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Joseph Urban
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book; delivery was perfect.
Published 1 month ago by seth
1.0 out of 5 stars More Bs from BS land
Isn't it bad enough that neuroscience and psychology have No knowledge of how "we" actually make decisions (what are the established mechanisms? How do they interact? Read more
Published 1 month ago by Stanley B. Klein
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant. Hard to describe. A life changer.
Published 1 month ago by Cathy S. Harrison
4.0 out of 5 stars almost too smart for his own good
It's an interesting read and Lehrer is very clever, almost too smart for his own good. However, this book should better be called WHY we decide, not HOW we decide. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A necessity for life choices.
This is a must read for anyone who wants to improve themselves and their life. By understanding how you make your own decisions and how others make their decisions it becomes... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Leadie J. Flowers
3.0 out of 5 stars It's like catchup
The ice-cream cones on the cover made me think the book would be about choosing, but it really is about deciding in the broader sense. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ilya Vedrashko
3.0 out of 5 stars I kept expecting it to change and get better, but I felt like similar...
Meh. I kept expecting it to change and get better, but I felt like similar pieces of stories were just repeated. Read more
Published 3 months ago by M. Watkins
5.0 out of 5 stars Great insights into decision making
Loved the multitude of examples presented and fascinated by the study of decision making in general. Am excited to read more about this topic.
Published 3 months ago by Margaret Hardin
5.0 out of 5 stars How I decide
Good study, and may help the young as well as the mature.
Published 3 months ago by Max T. Nigh
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