Book review: Gut Feelings

Emma De Vita reviews the book by Gerd Gigerenzer

Gut Feelings, by by Gerd Gigerenzer
Gut Feelings, by by Gerd Gigerenzer

Who would you rather be: a flip-flopping manager, unable to make up your mind every time a decision is needed, or a decisive manager who is able to take control of a situation?

Probably the latter, one assumes. Hundreds of books have been written about how to make better decisions, but Gerd Gigerenzer, a professor of psychology, wrote one in 2004 that promised to reveal the secrets of fast and effective decision-making. It remains a classic.

He writes: "In Western thought, intuition began as the most certain form of knowledge and has ended up being scorned as a fickle and unreliable guide to life."

Gigerenzer would like us to reconsider our modern preference for decision-making that is based solely on logic and rationality. You know the sort of person I mean: those who write a list of pros and cons for each decision, be it whom to hire or whom to marry. Instead, we need to listen intelligently to our gut feelings which, he argues, consists of "simple rules of thumb which take advantage of evolved capacities of the brain".

A combination of intuition and logic is needed for most situations. The skill lies in determining when to use each - but that is your decision ...

Emma De Vita is books editor of Management Today

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