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Thinking, Fast and Slow [Hardcover]

Daniel Kahneman
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 1 2011
The guru to the gurus at last shares his knowledge with the rest of us. Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman's seminal studies in behavioral psychology, behavioral economics, and happiness studies have influenced numerous other authors, including Steven Pinker and Malcolm Gladwell. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman at last offers his own, first book for the general public. It is a lucid and enlightening summary of his life's work. It will change the way you think about thinking.

Two systems drive the way we think and make choices, Kahneman explains: System One is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System Two is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Examining how both systems function within the mind, Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities as well as the biases of fast thinking and the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and our choices. Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, he shows where we can trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking, contrasting the two-system view of the mind with the standard model of the rational economic agent.

Kahneman's singularly influential work has transformed cognitive psychology and launched the new fields of behavioral economics and happiness studies. In this path-breaking book, Kahneman shows how the mind works, and offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and personal lives--and how we can guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble.

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Review

A New York Times Book Review Best Book
A Globe and Mail Best Book

“I will never think about thinking quite the same. [Thinking, Fast and Slow] is a monumental achievement.”
—Roger Lowenstein, Bloomberg/Businessweek

“Profound . . . As Copernicus removed the Earth from the centre of the universe and Darwin knocked humans off their biological perch, Mr. Kahneman has shown that we are not the paragons of reason we assume ourselves to be.”
The Economist
 
“[Kahneman’s] disarmingly simple experiments have profoundly changed the way that we think about thinking . . . We like to see ourselves as a Promethean species, uniquely endowed with the gift of reason. But Mr. Kahneman’s simple experiments reveal a very different mind, stuffed full of habits that, in most situations, lead us astray.”
—Jonah Lehrer, The Wall Street Journal
 
“[A] tour de force of psychological insight, research explication and compelling narrative that brings together in one volume the high points of Mr. Kahneman's notable contributions, over five decades, to the study of human judgment, decision-making and choice . . . Thanks to the elegance and force of his ideas, and the robustness of the evidence he offers for them, he has helped us to a new understanding of our divided minds—and our whole selves.”
—Christoper F. Chabris, The Wall Street Journal
 
“The ramifications of Kahenman’s work are wide, extending into education, business, marketing, politics . . . and even happiness research. Call his field “psychonomics,” the hidden reasoning behind our choices. Thinking, Fast and Slow is essential reading for anyone with a mind.”
—Kyle Smith, The New York Post
 
“A major intellectual event . . . The work of Kahneman and Tversky was a crucial pivot point in the way we see ourselves.”
—David Brooks, The New York Times; Author of The Social Animal
 
“Kahneman provides a detailed, yet accessible, description of the psychological mechanisms involved in making decisions.”
—Jacek Debiec, Nature
 
“With Kahneman’s expert help, readers may understand this mix of psychology and economics better than most accountants, therapists, or elected representatives. VERDICT: A stellar accomplishment, a book for everyone who likes to think and wants to do it better.”
Library Journal

“Kahneman’s extraordinary contribution to humanity’s cerebral growth [has] reached the mainstream—in the best way possible.”
The Atlantic
 
Thinking, Fast and Slow is a magisterial work, stunning in its ambition, infused with knowledge, laced with wisdom, informed by modesty and deeply humane. If you can read only one book this year, read this one.”
The Globe and Mail
 
“[In Thinking, Fast and Slow] We learn why we mistake statistical noise for coherent patterns; why the stock-picking of well-paid investment advisers and the prognostications of pundits are worthless; why businessmen tend to be both absurdly overconfident and unwisely risk-averse; and why memory affects decision making in counterintuitive ways. Kahneman's primer adds to recent challenges to economic orthodoxies about rational actors and efficient markets; more than that, it's a lucid, marvelously readable guide to spotting--and correcting--our biased misunderstandings of the world.”
Publishers' Weekly (starred review)

“For anyone interested in economics, cognitive science, psychology, and, in short, human behavior, this is the book of the year. Before Malcolm Gladwell and Freakonomics, there was Daniel Kahneman who invented the field of behavior economics, won a Nobel…and now explains how we think and make choices. Here’s an easy choice: read this.”
The Daily Beast

“The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. . . . Gripping. Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow deals with the very nature of thought, and it just may be the most important book I’ve read in many years. . .”
Los Angeles Review of Books


“This book is one of the few that must be counted as mandatory reading for anyone interested in the Internet, even though it doesn’t claim to be about that. Before computer networking got cheap and ubiquitous, the sheer inefficiency of communication dampened the effects of the quirks of human psychology on macro scale events. No more. We must now confront how we really are in order to make sense of our world and not screw it up. Daniel Kahneman has discovered a path to make it possible.”
—Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget

“Daniel Kahneman is one of the most original and interesting thinkers of our time. There may be no other person on the planet who better understands how and why we make the choices we make. In this absolutely amazing book, he shares a lifetime’s worth of wisdom presented in a manner that is simple and engaging, but nonetheless stunningly profound. This book is a must read for anyone with a curious mind.”
—Steven D. Levitt, William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago; co-author of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics.

Thinking, Fast and Slow is a masterpiece—a brilliant and engaging intellectual saga by one of the greatest psychologists and deepest thinkers of our time. Kahneman should be parking a Pulitzer next to his Nobel Prize.”
—Daniel Gilbert, Harvard University Professor of Psychology, author of Stumbling on Happiness, host of the award-winning PBS television series “This Emotional Life”

“This book is a tour de force by an intellectual giant; it is readable, wise, and deep. Buy it fast. Read it slowly and repeatedly. It will change the way you think, on the job, about the world, and in your own life.”
—Richard Thaler, University of Chicago Professor of Economics and co-author of Nudge

“This is a landmark book in social thought, in the same league as The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith and The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud.
—Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan

“Daniel Kahneman is among the most influential psychologists in history and certainly the most important psychologist alive today. He has a gift for uncovering remarkable features of the human mind, many of which have become textbook classics and part of the conventional wisdom. His work has reshaped social psychology, cognitive science, the study of reason and of happiness, and behavioral economics, a field that he and his collaborator Amos Tversky helped to launch. The appearance of Thinking, Fast and Slow is a major event.”
—Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Better Angels of our Nature

About the Author

DANIEL KAHNEMAN is Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton University and a professor of public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is the only non-economist to have won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences; it was awarded to him in 2002 for his pioneering work with Amos Tversky on decision-making.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
84 of 85 people found the following review helpful
By A. Volk #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have to admit that I wasn't really aware of Kahneman's work before I bought this book. Back in 2002, I was shocked to hear that there was a Nobel prize in Economics given out for someone showing that humans aren't rational investors. "Duh" I thought. Psychologists have known that for decades. Well, it turns out the guy who won that Nobel prize was a psychologist- Kahneman.

This book, written at the end (or just about) of his career, is a reflection back on a life's worth of research. Part biography (including his research partner Amos Tversky), part lecture, part research book, it makes for a good read. The chapters are all short, focused, and aimed at a broad audience yet contain some data for researchers. They also end with two or three quotes that illustrate the point of the chapter. Time and again, we're hit over the head with the difference between System 1 of the mind (unconscious, intuitive, biased, fast) versus System 2 (conscious, logical, lazy, slow). In a nutshell, most people believe that System 2 dominates our thoughts and behaviors. Kahneman goes to great lengths to show that this is often not the case.

Taking a broadly evolutionary perspective, he views System 1 as a background integrator of data that's concerned with survival-level issues. It often steers the thinking of System 2, which is costly and thus lazy. System 1 works well enough often enough for System 2 to only really kick in under consciously important circumstances. Certainly, psychology has revealed dozens of ways in which our unconscious mind can exert shockingly large influences on our behavior in contrast to our conscious perceptions and ideas. That's hardly surprising, and in that regard, I found the book a little stale and repetitive.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 cents per "Aha" Feb. 4 2012
Format:Hardcover
Investors are often criticized for making irrational decisions, as if it were possible through hard work and discipline to reach some kind of idealized rational state. According to psychologist and Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, it doesn't quite work that way. People can be trained to make more thoughtful decisions but, ultimately, the anatomical structure and evolutionary history of the human brain calls the shots. And that brain tells us to make quick, intuitive judgments with identifiable biases. Our more reflective processes, more often than not, line up to support these judgments.
If this sounds familiar, it should. In 2005, Malcolm Gladwell published the bestseller Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Gladwell wrote detailed case studies about intuitive judgments. On rare occasions, such as the case of a chess master with several thousand hours of training, intuitions can be remarkably accurate. At other times, when we use physical traits like a square jaw to judge a politician's leadership capabilities, they are just plain dumb.
But, Thinking, Fast and Slow is a much richer book than Blink. Kahneman has written the organized, referenced big brother of Blink and other books like Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner and Moneyball by Michael Lewis. All of these titles owe their existence to the intellectual framework developed by Kahneman and others.
The author, who has spent five decades studying the way we make decisions, is seen as a pioneer in the field of behavioural finance. He was the first psychologist to be awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his co-authorship, with Amos Tversky, of Prospect Theory.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but runs a bit dry April 6 2012
Format:Hardcover
This is a good book, with a lot of insight for sure. The author offers great examples to illustrate his points and these are relevant, and on the whole, useful. My issue with this book is that, after a while, it becomes a bit of a tedious read. Questions like "would you rather have 5$ today if your mood was mediocre because you just had a stellar glass of chardonay or 15$ if your dog had previously had an epileptic seizure and you had a mild cold." Ok, this is an exaggeration, but there are so many of these types of scenarios that I found myself losing interest in the topic. It's not that the material is bad, or even that it is poorly written. Only that for the layman who just wants a good read it can be, well, a bit boring.
The book is at its best when Kahneman describes real world circumstances and explains our mind rational (or irrationality) for their outcomes. These certainly provide real insights into how the simple mechanisms of our brains (he refers to this as system 1) operate. He contrasts this with our system 2, which is the more rational, though lazy system of thinking. Yet as the book unfolds, he uses these systems to examine very minute operations of these systems that eventually wore me down until I just wanted to activate my system 1 and flip on mindless cable TV.
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33 of 40 people found the following review helpful
By sean s. TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dr. Daniel Kahneman is one of the world's greatest living psychologists, Professor Emeritus at Princeton University, and a winner of the Nobel prize for Economics.

Thinking Fast and Slow is the summary of a lifetime of his groundbreaking research on the nature of the human mind. It is destined to become a timeless classic alongside Dr. Robert Cialdini's Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

Dr. Kahneman labels the approximately 95% of the mind that is unconscious `System 1'; and the approximately 5% of the mind that is conscious `System 2'.

« System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control. System 2 allocates attention in the effortful mental activities that demand it. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration.

When we think of ourselves, we identify with System 2, the conscious, reasoning self that has beliefs, makes choices, and decides what to think about and what to do. Although System 2 believes itself to be where the action is, System 1 effortlessly originates impressions and feelings that are the main sources of the beliefs and deliberate choices of System 2. "

"In the unlikely event of this book being made into a film, System 2 would be a supporting character who believes herself to be the hero. The defining feature of System 2, in this story, is that its operations are effortful, and one of its main characteristics is laziness, a reluctance to invest more effort than is strictly necessary. As a consequence, the thoughts and actions that System 2 believes it has chosen are often guided by the figure at the center of the story, System 1."

Or as Dr.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are interested in learning about how you think and why it lets...
Not the most captivating read, it does get a little dry, however the information and theories presented are well presented and explained in everyday english. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Niall Sheehan
3.0 out of 5 stars No opinion
Have not read it at this time but it is a topic that interest me.
I have no other comments
Published 1 month ago by Theo Rathonyi Reusz
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Nobel Laureate Kahneman demonstrates the depth and complexity of the human decision-making process. Nobody's education is complete without a comprehensive understanding of this... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Gordon Sisson
4.0 out of 5 stars Speeds of Thought
Daniel Kahneman has spent most of his professional life studying the way people think. It this book he characterizes much of our thought as the interplay between two mental... Read more
Published 3 months ago by John M. Ford
1.0 out of 5 stars Repetitive
I felt like the author could have explained the whole book in one or two chapters. It is not an interesting read.
Published 4 months ago by San
5.0 out of 5 stars Very engaging and informative
This is a really thought-provoking book, and very easy to read. I have recommended it to many people. Read more
Published 5 months ago by David Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars very good book
I read it when i receive it , the book was recommended by my friend. worth to buy the book.
Published 6 months ago by ZHUO CHEN
3.0 out of 5 stars A few insights
I didn't learn much from this book because pretty well all of it was obvious to me or stuff I'd learned before, either from reading or life experience. Read more
Published 6 months ago by JH
5.0 out of 5 stars makes Blink look like a high-school paper article
Explains the core mechanisms and influencers behind our decision making and reveals biases we're not aware. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Michael Petsalis
5.0 out of 5 stars Avoid the Commonly Accepted
Commonly accepted research shows that people buy both on rational and emotional considerations. As a marketer, it is a challenge to brand a product solely on rational aspects. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Jeffrey Swystun
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