- May 31 - King Library Opens at 1:00 PM
Any big decisions coming up? Have you ever found yourself in a store and have difficulty choosing between two or more similar items?
How We Decide, by Jonah Lehrer, addresses these questions and more by looking at how the brain functions during decision making. In using research and observations from neuroscience and psychology, the author points out the dilemmas between making a decision with the logical, rational part of the brain that creates spreadsheets and pro and con lists vs. making decisions based on feelings, “the gut”, or instinct. In fact, it was found that in some cases, people who created spread sheets and spent much time analyzing their decision made worse decisions than those who focused on what their emotions were saying.
Here are a couple of samples from the wealth of helpful skills from Lehrer’s book:
For simple problems, the decision may be best left to reason. For example, in the supermarket or electronics store, when you have a decision between two products of approximately equal quality, a couple of minutes comparing the per unit price or cost of the item could lead to a better decision. That is, some emotion driven choices may benefit from conscious deliberation. So, when the decision is less important, analysis is preferred.
On the contrary, for important decisions, spread sheets and over analysis can create confusion and indecision that is difficult to reconcile. In fact, some scientists, such as Ap Dijksterhuis, suggests that a decision with more than four variables overwhelms the rational brain. He also states that the prefrontal cortex may become overwhelmed with those decisions and makes consistent mistakes. If you overanalyze, you may end up with an “ugly couch in the wrong apartment.” So, some decisions are better left to the unconscious; hence, the “deliberation-without-attention hypothesis.”
So, for big decisions, such as choosing an apartment or a car, it is recommended to compare some of the variables. However the main point as stated by Lehrer is: “Think less about items you care a lot about. Don’t be afraid to let your emotions choose.” When the decision is important, you can’t make the decision on a single variable. So, the emotional part of the brain will likely lead to more satisfaction with your choice.
So, with this book summary, I hope you feel interested in finding out more about it for yourself!
Much more awaits, as there is a plethora of information that was excluded from this terse synopsis! Happy reading! :]
Edward de Bono, who was a physician, author, inventor and most importantly - the originator of the term Lateral Thinking wrote several books on decision making process. The most famous is Six Thinking Hats. Another good book by him is Creativity Workout: 62 Exercises to Unlock Your Most Creative Ideas. His books are simple, logical and easy to understand.
I would like also to suggest a couple more books from the library's collection on the same topic: