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Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases [Paperback]

Daniel Kahneman , Paul Slovic , Amos Tversky
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 30, 1982 0521284147 978-0521284141 1
The thirty-five chapters in this book describe various judgmental heuristics and the biases they produce, not only in laboratory experiments but in important social, medical, and political situations as well. Individual chapters discuss the representativeness and availability heuristics, problems in judging covariation and control, overconfidence, multistage inference, social perception, medical diagnosis, risk perception, and methods for correcting and improving judgments under uncertainty. About half of the chapters are edited versions of classic articles; the remaining chapters are newly written for this book. Most review multiple studies or entire subareas of research and application rather than describing single experimental studies. This book will be useful to a wide range of students and researchers, as well as to decision makers seeking to gain insight into their judgments and to improve them.

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Editorial Reviews


"The papers chosen for this volume are an excellent collection, generally well-written and fascinating." Journal of Economic Literature

"The examples are lively, the style is engaging, and it is as entertaining as it is enlightening." Times Literary Supplement

"...an important and well-written book." Journal of the American Statistical Association

"...a good collection of papers on an important topic." Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

"Clearly, this is an important book. Anyone who undertakes judgment and decision research should own it." Contemporary Psychology

Book Description

Thirty-five chapters describe various judgmental heuristics and the biases they produce, not only in laboratory experiments, but in important social, medical, and political situations as well. Most review multiple studies or entire subareas rather than describing single experimental studies.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (April 30, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521284147
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521284141
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
In this volume Daniel Kahneman and the late Amos Tversky gathered together 35 authoritative papers that demonstrate through well-designed experiments and through observation the hard-wired biases and heuristics that influence (or define) the way humans go about making choices when the outcomes are from certain.

There are a raft of biases, and just one example is the Anchoring Effect. If you asked 100 people to guess the population of Turkey, what you'd probably get is a wide range of answers. If you broke the question into two parts: first by asking whether the population is higher or lower than 14 million - and then by asking the respondents to guess the population - you'd find that the answers would gravitate around our arbitrary 14 million mark.

The Heuristics we use to weigh up and evaluate data provide a second family of biases. Here, the human brain is shown to go about problem evaluation along certain pathways and shortcuts, and the route we take tends to define where we'll emerge. By way of example, we tend to give undue weight to highly retrievable or available data: and treat this as representative. So in the wake of Katrina, you or I would be fairly excused for judging 2005 as a particularly bad year for global weather-related disasters. In probability, 2005 was not particularly unusual on a global scale.

This volume is an important collection of papers, with relevance to anyone working in fields where decision-making is at the core. You might be in market research, medicine, social sciences, economics or other fields: this book contains material of direct relevance to your work. The conclusions from the papers range from disturbing (the judgments of professional medical and psychological experts, we see, can be alarmingly biased!
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49 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars my humble opinion April 27, 2004
Of course, my humble opinion relative to Nobel award committee will hold little intrinsic value, other than a layman's interpretation and application.
An economist myself, I found this book very interesting and educational to read. Although the book is quite verbose, the fluidity and organization of the content facilitates a smooth read - not a bludgeoning of the mind.
I found this book particularly applicable to research in market behavior, systemic analysis (because this book outlines the individuals and how they act within the system); even policy development (uncertainty).
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in psychology, social psychology, economics, policy, and politics.
Tyler Markowsky
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Genius--but the writing! December 23, 2008
Before seeing this collection, I had been excited by what I knew of these researchers' work in uncovering surprising aspects of human decision-making. And I was initially thrilled to be given this book as a gift. But at this point, though my opinion of their lifetime body of work is unchanged, there are other sources on the topic that I'd recommend first.

Many of the chapters have a didactic, laborious tone. The various authors seem only partially aware of what one another are saying; material has a way of resurfacing in slightly modified form, making one unsure whether seeing a new finding or a restatement of an earlier one. The many lessons drawn, which individually often seem brilliant, never quite coalesce. I found material a little harder to retain than in other books on judgment and uncertainty.

Three chapters that were especially lively and readable were Robyn Dawes' "The Robust Beauty of Improper Linear Models in Decision Making"; Baruch Fischhoff's piece on hindsight; and John Cohen et al.'s chapter on compound probability and sequential choices.

I would recommend the collection as an important resource for a serious student of the topic. Others would probably learn more and derive more enjoyment from Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness or from one of the non-technical books by Gerd Gigerenzer or Daniel Ariely.
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90 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the best book I've ever seen about probability. October 20, 1998
By A Customer
I've never seen better explanations of how probabilities should be calculated. And the book is fascinating -- especially what the authors describe about the results of surveys designed to reveal the most common mistakes people make when estimating probabilities.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for the thinking person... October 15, 2009
...and especially for the non-thinking person! This book, a popular classic for the past 25 years, opened my eyes to the prevalence and scope of biases in our thinking. The authors take great care to identify and define biases using rigorous, scientific measurements. Their experiments to uncover various types of biases are as fascinating as the end results. There were many occasions when I remembered or referenced this book in the last two decades. I have also recommended this book many times to anyone who expressed even a whiff of interest in decision-making, the workings of the human mind, psychology, etc.

In fact, I think an abbreviated version of this would be perfect at the high school level. Some of these experiments (or a carefully modified version of them) can be performed by high school students, and it would be invaluable in teaching them (a) how to design experiments to uncover even abstract and subjective thinking patterns, (b) the prevalence and scope of biases, and (c) the power of the scientific method in general.

Our schools most likely will not follow my recommendation (probability = 0.98). So, if you have a child in junior year or older and is 'intellectual' in outlook, or has expressed any interest in philosophy, psychology, law, etc., I strongly recommend that you give this book as a gift.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Most influential book I have read
I purchased and read this about five years ago. It is probably the most influential book I have ever read. Read more
Published 3 months ago by C. Livingston
5.0 out of 5 stars The one and only.
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Published on October 25, 2011 by Three if by Space
5.0 out of 5 stars heuristics!
We read this book in our microeconomics and public policy class. What Kahnemann and Tversky add to the understanding of human bias and misjudgment is quintessential.
Published on April 15, 2008 by Peter Manda
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The essays contained in this book show convincingly that the standard decision theoretic model taught world wide since the mid 1940's,the subjective expected utility model based on... Read more
Published on October 9, 2005 by Michael Emmett Brady
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