Exploring Books on Decision-Making

Thinking, Fast and Slow

By Daniel Kahneman

From the Publisher:

Renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, Daniel Kahneman takes readers on a groundbreaking tour of the mind by explaining the two systems that drive the way we think.

System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical.

The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.

Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions, and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Communication Award—Book, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011.

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NOISE A Flaw in Human Judgment

By Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, Cass R. Sunstein

From the Publisher:

Imagine that two doctors in the same city give different diagnoses to identical patients, or that two judges in the same court give different sentences to people who have committed matching crimes. Now imagine that the same doctor and the same judge make different decisions depending on whether it is morning or afternoon, Monday rather than Wednesday, or if they have or haven’t yet had lunch. These are examples of noise: variability in judgments that should be identical.

In Noise, Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony and Cass R. Sunstein show how noise produces errors in many fields, including in medicine, law, public health, economic forecasting, forensic science, child protection, creative strategy, performance review, and hiring. And although noise can be found wherever people are making judgments and decisions, individuals and organizations alike commonly ignore its impact, at great cost.

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Thinking in Bets

By Annie Duke

From the Publisher:

Annie Duke teaches how to get comfortable with uncertainty and make better decisions as a result.

Even the best decision doesn’t yield the best outcome every time. There’s always an element of luck that you can’t control, and there is always information that is hidden from view. So the key to long-term success is to think in bets: How sure am I? What are the possible ways things could turn out? What decision has the highest odds of success? Did I land in the unlucky 10% on the strategy that works 90% of the time? Or is my success attributable to dumb luck rather than great decision making?

Duke draws on examples from business, sports, politics, and poker to share tools anyone can use to embrace uncertainty and make better decisions.

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How to Decide

By Annie Duke

From the Publisher:

Making good decisions doesn’t have to be a series of endless guesswork. Rather, it’s a teachable skill that anyone can sharpen. In How to Decide, bestselling author and former professional poker player, Annie Duke, lays out a series of tools anyone can use to make better decisions.

You’ll learn:

  • To identify and dismantle hidden biases
  • To extract the highest quality feedback from those whose advice you seek
  • To more accurately identify the influence of luck in the outcome of your decisions
  • When to decide fast, when to decide slow, and when to decide in advance
  • To make decisions that more effectively help you to realize your goals and live your values

Through interactive exercises and thought experiments, this book helps you analyze key decisions you’ve made in the past and troubleshoot those you’re making in the future. Whether you’re picking investments, evaluating a job offer, or trying to figure out your romantic life, How to Decide can lead you to happier outcomes and fewer regrets.

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By Phil Tetlock and Dan Garner

From the Publisher:

In Superforecasting, Phil Tetlock and coauthor Dan Gardner highlight decades of research and the results of a massive, government-funded forecasting tournament, The Good Judgment Project, which involved tens of thousands of ordinary people who set out to forecast global events. Some turned out to be astonishingly good, beating other benchmarks, competitors, and prediction markets. They’ve even beaten the collective judgment of intelligence analysts with access to classified information. They are “superforecasters.”

Tetlock and Gardner show how we can learn from this elite group, weaving together stories of forecasting successes (the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound) and failures (the Bay of Pigs). Interviews with a range of high-level decision makers from David Petraeus to Robert Rubin show that good forecasting doesn’t require powerful computers or arcane methods. It involves gathering evidence from a variety of sources, thinking probabilistically, working in teams, keeping score, and being willing to admit error and change course.

It offers a way to improve our ability to predict the future—whether in business, finance, politics, international affairs, or daily life.

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Atomic Habits

By James Clear

From the Publisher:

James Clear, a leading expert on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible.

Learn how to:

  • Make time for new habits (even when life gets busy)
  • Overcome a lack of motivation and willpower
  • Design your environment to make success easier
  • Get back on track when you fall off course

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Nudge: The Final Edition Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

By Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

From the Publisher:

Since the original publication of Nudge more than a decade ago, the title has entered the vocabulary of businesspeople, policymakers, engaged citizens, and consumers everywhere.

It has taught us how to use thoughtful “choice architecture”—a concept the authors invented—to help us make better decisions for ourselves, our families, and our society.

Now, the authors have rewritten the book from cover to cover, making use of their experiences in and out of government over the past dozen years as well as an explosion of new research in numerous academic disciplines. It offers a wealth of new insights, for both its avowed fans and newcomers to the field, about a wide variety of issues that we face in our daily lives—COVID-19, health, personal finance, retirement savings, credit card debt, home mortgages, medical care, organ donation, climate change, and “sludge” (paperwork and other nuisances we don’t want, and that keep us from getting what we do want)—all while honoring one of the cardinal rules of nudging: make it fun!

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Give Yourself a Nudge: Helping Smart People Make Smarter Personal and Business Decisions

By Ralph Keeney

From the Publisher:

The best way to improve your quality of life is through the decisions you make.

This book teaches several fundamental decision-making skills, provides numerous applications and examples, and ultimately nudges you toward smarter decisions. These nudges frame more desirable decisions for you to face by identifying the objectives for your decisions and generating superior alternatives to those initially considered.

All of the nudges are based on psychology and behavioral economics research and are accessible to all readers. The new concept of a decision opportunity is introduced, which involves creating a decision that you desire to face. Solving a decision opportunity improves your life, whereas resolving a decision problem only restores the quality of your life to that before the decision problem occurred.

We all can improve our decision-making and reap the better quality of life that results. This book shows you how.

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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

By Charles Duhigg

From the Publisher:

Award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed.

Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a new understanding of human nature and its potential.

At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

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Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions

By John Hammond, Ralph Keeney, and Howard Raiffa

From the Publisher:

John Hammond, Ralph Keeney, and Howard Raiffa offer a straightforward and flexible roadmap for making better and more impactful decisions, and offer the tools to achieve your goals in every aspect of your life.

Their step-by-step, divide-and conquer approach will teach you how to:

  • Evaluate your plans
  • Break a decision into its key elements
  • Identify the key drivers most relevant to your goals
  • Apply systematic thinking
  • Use the right information to make the smartest choice

Smart Choices doesn’t tell you what to decide; it tells you how. By applying its methods, you’ll make better decisions going forward.

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What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought

By Keith E. Stanovich

From the Publisher:

Keith E. Stanovich shows that IQ tests (or their proxies, such as the SAT) are radically incomplete measures of cognitive functioning.

They fail to assess traits that most people associate with good thinking—skills such as judgment and decision-making. Such cognitive skills are crucial to real-world behavior, affecting the way we plan, evaluate critical evidence, judge risks and probabilities, and make effective decisions. IQ tests fail to assess these skills of rational thought, even though they are measurable cognitive processes.

Rational thought is just as important as intelligence, Stanovich argues, and it should be valued as highly as the abilities currently measured on intelligence tests.

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Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know

By Adam Grant

From the Publisher:

Adam Grant examines the critical art of rethinking: learning to question your opinions and open other people’s minds.

Intelligence is usually seen as the ability to think and learn, but in a rapidly changing world, there’s another set of cognitive skills that might matter more: the ability to rethink and unlearn. In our daily lives, too many of us favor the comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt. We listen to opinions that make us feel good, instead of ideas that make us think hard.

The result is that our beliefs get brittle long before our bones. The brighter we are, the blinder to our own limitations we can become.

Adam Grant makes it one of his guiding principles to argue like he’s right, but listen like he’s wrong. He investigates how we can embrace the joy of being wrong, bring nuance to charged conversations, and build schools, workplaces, and communities of lifelong learners. Think Again reveals that we don’t have to believe everything we think or internalize everything we feel. It’s an invitation to let go of views that are no longer serving us well and prize mental flexibility over foolish consistency. If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom.

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Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

By Chip and Dan Heath

From the Publisher:

Chip Heath and Dan Heath tackle the thorny problem of how to overcome our natural biases and irrational thinking to make better decisions about our work, lives, companies, and careers.

When it comes to decision-making, our brains are flawed instruments. But given that we are biologically hard-wired to act foolishly and behave irrationally at times, how can we do better? A number of books have identified how irrational our decision-making can be. But being aware of a bias doesn’t correct it, just as knowing that you are nearsighted doesn’t help you to see better. In Decisive, the Heath brothers offer specific, practical tools that can help us think more clearly about our options, and get out of our heads, to improve our decision-making at work and at home.

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You Are Not So Smart

By David McRaney

From the Publisher:

You Are Not So Smart reveals that every decision we make, every thought we contemplate, and every emotion we feel comes with a story we tell ourselves to explain them. But often these stories aren’t true.

Each short chapter covers topics such as Learned Helplessness, Selling Out, and the Illusion of Transparency.

You Are Not So Smart is a celebration of our irrational, thoroughly human behavior.

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How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

By Katy Milkman

From the Publisher:

Award-winning Wharton Professor and Choiceology podcast host Katy Milkman has devoted her career to the study of behavior change. In this book, Milkman reveals a proven path that can take you from where you are to where you want to be, with a foreword from psychologist Angela Duckworth.

Drawing on Milkman’s original research and the work of her scientific collaborators, How to Change shares strategic methods for identifying and overcoming common barriers to change, such as impulsivity, procrastination, and forgetfulness.

Through case studies and engaging stories, you’ll learn:

  • Why timing can be everything when it comes to making a change
  • How to turn temptation and inertia into assets
  • That giving advice, even if it’s about something you’re struggling with, can help you achieve more

How to Change offers a science-based blueprint for achieving your goals.

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The Decision Playbook: Making Thoughtful Choices in a Complex World

By Lee Failing, Robin Gregory, Graham Long, and Brooke Moore

From the Publisher:

The authors have seen how good decision skills change the way people think and talk together in real high-stakes decisions.

As professionals and as parents and citizens, we sometimes look at the complexities facing our present and next-generation decision makers and feel overwhelmed.

This book enables us to take action in a way that deals with that sense of overwhelm by contributing to the solution rather than stressing about the problem. We can help young people make more thoughtful choices that better reflect their values and that anticipate, with courage and clear vision, the range of likely consequences.

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