on December 11, 1995
This is a landmark work in the field of social psychology,
but it is also of great interest to a more general
The subject of the book is how humans think and make
decisions. Since we all do this, and how well we do
this has a considerable impact on our quality of life,
this is one book that I believe should be part of
The book is written for undergraduate students in
social psychology so it is heavier reading than popular
psychology books, but it is correspondingly more
detailed and informative.
The organization of the book merits a brief introduction. In the initial section (chapters 1 to 3), we introduce the reader to the analogy between the inferential tasks of the layperson or "intuitive scientist" and those of the formal scientist, an analogy that figures heavily in the plan of the book. We then discuss the simplistic but generally helpful cognitive strategies used by the intuitive scientist and show how their overapplication or misapplication can result in the major judgmental or inferential errors. In the middle section (chapters 4 to 8), we deal with specific inferential tasks, from the initial collection and coding of the data, to the testing and revision of informal psychological theories, that people perform so imperfectly. Throughout this section we discuss the formal or "normative" rules of inference of which people sometimes seems ignorant, rules which they understand primarily in particular narrow and familiar contexts or which they understand only in the abstract, without really being able to apply them appropriately and broadly. In the final section (chapters 9 through 12), we first treat two specific issues in more detail: the special case of inferences about oneself and one's own behavior (chapter 9) and the general problem of distinguishing between motivationally based errors and intellectually based ones (chapter 10). Then, in the last two chapters, we cover the personal and social costs of human inferential shortcomings (and the factors limiting such costs), and the possibilities of improving people's inferential strategies.
--- from book's Preface
The authors explore how humans use decision making shortcuts (otherwise referred to as "heuristics"). Over time, humans, according to the authors, humans have developed decision making shortcuts to make decisions in (what another theorist calls) "fast and frugal ways."
Example? "The vividness criterion." Here, we use dramatic examples to shape our decisions. This is otherwise referred to as the "fallacy of the dramatic illustration." People often do not think through whether the dramatic instance is really typical. As a result, they may make decisins on the basis of poor information.
A fine book that sheds light on how we make decisions.
on August 28, 2012
This is a terrific book. It is a clearly written discussion of findings and perspectives that linked social and cognitive psychology and transformed both psychology and economics. Although the book is now more than 30 years old, the findings it reports hold up well. It still makes for a good introduction to the research it describes, although those interested in the topic may wish to focus on related syntheses, like Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow, that report on and take account of more recent research.
on July 9, 2013
Even though I majored in Clinical Psychology and have a Master's degree to practice mental health counseling, this book was difficult to follow and it for those who are in Experimental Psychology. I gained some information that is helpful, like the accuracy of people's judgments and what factors are likely to play a role, but pragmatically speaking, there wasn't much I could use in a clinical setting.