As some of you might know, Daniel Kahneman is a renowned Israeli-American psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002 for his work in prospect theory, which challenged some of the field’s fundamental assumptions about the rationality of human behavior. As one example, he explained why losses are negative valued more than gains of the same amount are positively valued (loss aversion). Now a Professor Emeritus at Princeton, Kahneman has been named by Foreign Policy magazine to its list of top global thinkers.
Thinking Fast and Slow summarizes Kahneman’s lifetime discoveries and contributions. At over 400 pages, the book might appear intimidating, but it has justly become a best-seller. The book clearly elaborates more than a few scientifically rich constructs which have become standard vocabulary of researchers, consultants, and therapists seeking to understand behavior which doesn’t conform to traditional economic rationality. Kahneman’s own research and his work with long-time partner, Amos Tversky, developed many of these ideas—anchoring, priming effects, associative coherence, recency effects, confirmation bias, availability heuristic, optimism bias, reversion to the mean, hindsight bias, sunk-cost fallacy, and others.
For a volume that is so densely packed with scientifically validated insights about behavior, it is nevertheless a delight to read. Kahneman writes in an engaging style which makes occasionally difficult material easy to digest. I strongly recommend Thinking Fast and Slow to students of social and behavioral science, marketing researchers, those wanting to understand how business decisions are made, and anyone wanting to improve the quality of his or her own thinking. Thinking Fast and Slow is one of the few books I’ve re-read fully from start to finish.
Sid Groeneman is the head of Groeneman Research & Consulting, an independent research firm specializing in the design, analysis, and reporting of marketing, public opinion, and policy surveys. GR&C partners with large and small research companies and consultants needing specialized senior-level expertise on proposals and projects. He has a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota.