Book: Gut Feelings

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Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious

Author: Gerd Gigerenzer
Publisher: Viking Adult

An engaging explanation of the science behind Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling Blink'

Gerd Gigerenzer is one of the researchers of behavioral intuition responsible for the science behind Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller Blink. Gladwell showed us how snap decisions often yield better results than careful analysis. Now, Gigerenzer explains why our intuition is such a powerful decision-making tool. Drawing on a decade of research at the Max Plank Institute, Gigerenzer demonstrates that our gut feelings are actually the result of unconscious mental processes—processes that apply rules of thumb that we’ve derived from our environment and prior experiences. The value of these unconscious rules lies precisely in their difference from rational analysis—they take into account only the most useful bits of information rather than attempting to evaluate all possible factors. By examining various decisions we make—how we choose a spouse, a stock, a medical procedure, or the answer to a million-dollar game show question—Gigerenzer shows how gut feelings not only lead to good practical decisions, but also underlie the moral choices that make our society function.

In the tradition of Blink and Freakonomics, Gut Feelings is an exploration of the myriad influences and factors (nature and nurture) that affect how the mind works, grounded in cutting-edge research and conveyed through compelling real-life examples.

Why is split second decision-making superior to deliberation? Gut Feelings delivers the science behind Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink.

Reflection and reason are overrated, according to renowned psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer. Much better qualified to help us make decisions is the cognitive, emotional, and social repertoire we call intuition—a suite of gut feelings that have evolved over the millennia specifically for making decisions. “Gladwell drew heavily on Gigerenzer’s research. But Gigerenzer goes a step further by explaining just why our gut instincts are so often right. Intuition, it seems, is not some sort of mystical chemical reaction but a neurologically based behavior that evolved to ensure that we humans respond quickly when faced with a dilemma” (BusinessWeek).


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You can think of this book as an explanation of the science behind Blink. Author Gerd Gigenrenzer isn’t just piggybacking Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller. In fact, his breakthrough research at Berlin’s Max Planck Institute provides some of the deepest proofs of the power of intuition as a decision-making tool. Gut Feelings probes the unconscious mental processes that provide shortcuts to problem solving in countless everyday situations. The psychologist’s insights about “fast and frugal heuristics” are both fascinating and accessible to lay readers.

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