Gut Feelings, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


In Gut Feelings: Short Cuts to Better Decision Making psychologist and behavioural expert Gerd Gigerenzer reveals the secrets of fast and effective decision-making.

A sportsman can catch a ball without calculating its speed or distance.

A group of amateurs beat the experts at playing the stock market.

A man falls for the right woman even though she's 'wrong' on paper.

All these people succeeded by trusting their instincts - but how does it work?

As Gerd Gigerenzer explains, in an uncertain world, sometimes we have to ignore too much information and rely on our brain's 'short cut', or heuristic.

By explaining how intuition works and analyzing the techniques that people use to make good decisions - whether it's in personnel selection or heart surgery - Gigerenzer will show you the hidden intelligence of the unconscious mind. 'Fascinating and provocative ...Gut Feelings may well be the recipe for a simpler, less stressful life' Sunday Times 'Gigerenzer's writing is catchily optimistic and slyly funny ...Devilish' Steven Poole, Guardian 'The science behind the phenomenon cited in the bestseller Blink ...useful and clearly written' Business Week 'Gigerenzer is brilliant' Stephen Pinker Gerd Gigerenzer is Director of the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and former Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago. He has published two academic books on heuristics, Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart and Bounded Rationality: The Adaptive Toolbox as well as a popular science book, Reckoning with Risk.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Decision theory: general
  • ISBN: 9780141015910

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

A really good introduction into modern research on psychological heuristics. The book is based on three main ideas: 1) many of our decisions are based on fast and frugal rules of thumb (as opposed to exhaustive calculations); 2) these rules are successful because they confer evolutionary advantage (and for this same reason, they are not consciously accessible, i.e. they present themselves as 'gut feelings'); 3) their predictive power comes from the fact that by being simple they avoid overfitting the data. I found this book much better written than the average popular science book. In addition to being very clearly written and containing very well chosen entertaining examples, it surprised me with a couple of some really interesting analyses. The first one is an analysis of the one dimensional voter (chapter 8) where Gigerenzer shows experimentally how a) Left-Right linear ordering immediately induces a complete ordering of preferences b) issues that seem orthogonal to Left-Right distinctions very readily get mapped on the same axis by the amount of support that an issue receives from a candidate who already has a location on that axis. The second one is the analysis of 'split-brain' organizations, i.e. organizations that employ very robust heuristics for their decisions ('let's not get sued!') but then confabulate a completely independent set of principles to explain/justify their decisions.

Review by

Particularly valuable for the critique of Kahnemann and Tversky's low opinion of intuitive judgements, eg 'Linda is a bankteller' vs 'Linda is a bankteller and active in the femist movement' - it is often judged that, given a typical description of 'Linda', the latter is more likely. This is not logical, if the 'and' is taken as a logical AND. But it clearly isn't taken this way in normal language. The question 'probable' is taken to mean 'plausible'. This is in fact totally rational. Also valuable for the description and application of the recognition heuristic and much else.