Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Every time I revisit this book I discover new insights and learn more about human behaviour. I gleaned more from the introduction to this book than the entirety of many other books I’ve read. If you are in business or just interested in human behaviour this book is a must read.It will change your life and how you think about decision making.
Kahneman outlines how two systems are at work in our brains to allow us to function without depleting our limited energy and mental capacity. Understanding the difference between system 1 and 2 is at the heart of appreciating how humans make decisions. However, the book is much more than system 1 and 2 as it shines a light on the impact of mental short-cuts and biases. How our brain relies on these short-cuts to cope with the constant flow of decisions in our daily lives.
The section on over-confidence challenges the trust we place in ‘experts’ to advise us in business and in our personal lives. How our brains naturally focus on what know and ignore what we don’t know. Choices explains why people often miscalculate risk and why we are prone to making bad decisions in certain circumstances.
Here are a few quotes that give you a taster for what is in store for you when you read this brilliant book. You won’t be disappointed:
“We documented systematic errors in the thinking of normal people and we traced these errors to the design of the machinery of cognition rather than the corruption of thought by emotion.”
“People tend to assess the relative importance of issues by the ease with which they are retrieved from memory – and this is largely determined by the extent of coverage in the media.”
“However, optimism is highly rated, socially and in the market; people and firms reward the providers of dangerously misleading information more than they reward truth tellers.”
“Luck plays a large role in every story of success; it is almost always easy to identify a small change in the story that would have turned a remarkable achievement into a mediocre outcome.”
“Judgement heuristics are quite useful but sometimes lead to severe and systematic errors”
“We focused on biases, both because we found them interesting in their own right and because they provided evidence for the heuristic judgement.”
“Accurate intuitions of experts are better explained by the effects of prolonged practice than by heuristics. Skill and heuristics are alternative sources of intuitive judgement and choices.”
“Our everyday intuitive abilities are no less marvellous than the striking insights of an experienced fire-fighter or physician – only more common.”
“Intuition is nothing more and nothing less than recognition.”
Once you read this book, like me, you will want to return to it regularly to learn more about human decision-making.
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- About the author: Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for brands such as Deezer.com, Foxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com. He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback. By aligning each stage of the customer journey with the organisation’s business goals this helps to improve conversion rates and revenues significantly as almost all websites benefit from a review of customer touch points and user journeys.
- Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website. If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.