Whenever someone makes a decision and tries to be reasonable and restrained, the brain is awash in feelings, driven by its inexplicable passions. These emotions secretly influence our judgment. Naturally, these feelings sometimes can lead us astray and cause us to make all sorts of predictable mistakes. To make good decisions, God endows us with a brain that is enthusiastically pluralist. Sometimes, we need to reason through our options and carefully analyze the possibilities. And sometimes we need to listen to our emotions. We always need to be thinking about how we think.
"How We Decide is a valuable resource for financial counselors and educators who want to get into the head of their clients or students and learn what makes them tick. The book is carefully researched and contains summaries of dozens of neuroscience, behavioral finance, and human behavior studies. Technical scientific terms such as amygdale (a brain region that, when excited, evokes negative feelings), prefrontal cortex (a brain region associated with rational planning), and insula (an emotional brain area), and more are carefully explained." Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning
"In How We Decide, a youngish Rhodes Scholar named Jonah Lehrer surveys the current state of knowledge about our most important (but also most commonly misunderstood) organ: our brain. At the tender age of 27, Lehrer is already something of a popular science prodigy, having already published a critically acclaimed book called Proust Was a Neuroscientist. In How We Decide, Lehrer builds on his earlier work to show how trusting our instincts can help us solve certain kinds of problems more effectively. But he also cautions us about relying too heavily on the emotional side of our brain, for it is easily fooled, especially when we’re facing a situation that’s unfamiliar." Gulyani.com
"There are lots of book written about decision-making, but what is unique about Jonah Lehrer’s terrific book, How We Decide, is that it is written from the point of view of neuroscience and, thus, provides some interesting and counter-intuitive revelations. From a business perspective, it arms readers with the knowledge of how the brain is operating when faced with making different types of decisions and thus allows one to streamline the decision-making process." Progress Design
"By the end of the book, Lehrer is ready to draw some conclusions from all this fascinating material. What he comes up with, basically, is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (a technique that has worked for me during a bout of depression). CBT consists, basically, of introspectively interrogating your emotional response to events, to see where and how emotion is influencing reason and vice-versa. CBT requires that you write things down (at first, anyway) so that your brain can't pull a fast one by selectively recalling your track record. It's the Goldilocks of introspection: not too much, not too little, just enough. It's great advice, and a great book, too." Boing Boing
"A central tenet of "How We Decide" is that by knowing how our minds work, we will be better able to use our noodles. Accordingly, we need to understand that the brain craves the quietude of certainty. Doubts are unpleasant turbulence to brains barreling toward conclusions. In admirable earnestness, the twentysomething author admonishes that if we want to improve our decision-making IQs, we need to make an effort to nurture our inner skeptics. If the reader obeys that advice, he will relish and learn from this substantive and elegantly written book." Los Angeles Times
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It turns out that we weren't designed to be rational creatures. Instead, the mind is composed of a messy network of different areas, many of which are involved with the production of emotions.
Whenever someone makes a decision and tries to be reasonable and restrained, the brain is awash in feelings, driven by its inexplicable passions. These emotions secretly influence our judgment.
To make good decisions, God endows us with a brain that is enthusiastically pluralist. Sometimes, we need to reason through our options and carefully analyze the possibilities. And sometimes we need to listen to our emotions.
The mind contains two distinct thinking systems: one that is rational and deliberate and another that is quick, effortless and emotional. The key to making decisions is to know when to rely on which system.
The process of thinking requires feelings, for they let us understand all the information that we can't directly comprehend. Reason without emotion is impotent.
Every time you make a mistake, your brain cells automatically detect the subtle and gentle patterns and assimilate all the data that we can't consciously comprehend. Brain cells need to be continually trained and retrained, or else their predictive accuracy declines.
The desire to avoid anything that smacks of loss often shapes our behaviour, leading us to do foolish things. We try to postpone the pain for as long as possible, the result is more losses.
While reason is a powerful cognitive tool, it's dangerous to rely exclusively on the deliberations of the prefrontal cortex. When the rational brain hijacks the mind, people tend to make all sorts of decision-making mistakes.
We live in a culture that's awash in information; it's the age of Google and free information. We are constantly exceeding the capacity of our prefrontal cortices, feeding them more facts and figures than they can handle.
Morality can be a vague concept, and yet, at its simplest level, it's nothing but a series of choices about how we treat other people.
When normal people tell lies, they exhibit the symptoms of nervousness; lie detectors work by measuring these signals. But psychopaths are able to consistently fool the machines. Dishonesty doesn't make them anxious because nothing makes them anxious.
When we start censoring our minds, turning off those brain areas that contradict our assumptions, we end up ignoring relevant evidence.
Mark Jung- Beeman, the scientist who studies the neuroscience of insight, has shown that people in good moods are significantly better at solving hard problems that require insight than people who are depressed.
When the brain areas associated with executive control aren't preoccupied with managing emotional life, the end result is that the rational brain can focus on what it needs to focus on.
Whenever possible, it's essential to extend the decision-making process and properly consider the argument unfolding inside your head. Bad decisions happen when that mental debate is cut short, when a consensus is imposed on the neural quarrel.
Emotions: are windows into the unconscious, visceral representations of all the information we process but don't perceive.
The emotional brain is useful helping us make hard decisions. Its ability to process millions of bits of data in parallel ensures that you can analyze all the relevant information when assessing alternatives.
The reason emotions are so intelligent is that they've managed to turn mistakes into educational events. You are constantly benefiting from experience, even if you're not consciously aware of the benefits.
The one thing you should always be doing is considering your emotions, thinking about why you're feeling what you're feeling. Even when you choose to ignore your emotions, they are still a valuable source of input.
The best way to make sure that you are using your brain properly is to study your brain at work, to listen to the argument inside your head.