How We Decide

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009 - Business & Economics - 302 pages
3 Reviews
The first book to use the unexpected discoveries of neuroscience to help us make the best decisions

Since Plato, philosophers have described the decision-making process as either rational or emotional: we carefully deliberate, or we "blink" and go with our gut. But as scientists break open the mind's black box with the latest tools of neuroscience, they're discovering that this is not how the mind works. Our best decisions are a finely tuned blend of both feeling and reason--and the precise mix depends on the situation. When buying a house, for example, it's best to let our unconscious mull over the many variables. But when we're picking a stock, intuition often leads us astray. The trick is to determine when to use the different parts of the brain, and to do this, we need to think harder (and smarter) about how we think.

Jonah Lehrer arms us with the tools we need, drawing on cutting-edge research as well as the real-world experiences of a wide range of "deciders"--from airplane pilots and hedge fund investors to serial killers and poker players.

Lehrer shows how people are taking advantage of the new science to make better television shows, win more football games, and improve military intelligence. His goal is to answer two questions that are of interest to just about anyone, from CEOs to firefighters: How does the human mind make decisions? And how can we make those decisions better?

What people are saying - Write a review

Best book I've read in years

User Review  - Pomona88 - Borders

I've read a lot of behavioral economics type books lately, and this one really ties together economic theory and studies of brain structure and chemistry. Many of the book's anecdotes are also quick exciting. Read full review

youll read it from cover to cover

User Review  - alkin -

I absolutely love this book. The author describes the whole proces of making decisions but unlike some science books or articles that make you fall asleep the author of this book made it very easy to ... Read full review


1 The Quarterback in the Pocket
2 The Predictions of Dopamine
3 Fooled by a Feeling
4 The Uses of Reason
5 Choking on Thought
6 The Moral Mind
7 The Brain Is an Argument
8 The Poker Hand
End Matter

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About the author (2009)

Jonah Lehrer is editor at large for Seed magazine and the author of Proust Was a Neuroscientist (2007) and How We Decide (February 2009). A graduate of Columbia University and a Rhodes Scholar, Lehrer has worked in the lab of Nobel Prize–winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel and has written for the New Yorker, Wired, Boston Globe, Washington Post, and Nature, and writes a highly regarded blog, The Frontal Cortex.  Lehrer also commentates for NPR’s Radio Lab.