Kahneman and the biases of intuition

Over the past few years I’ve read a number of books and research studies related to social psychology, neuroscience and behavioral economics. One of the most interesting books during this time was Daniel Kahneman’s book: Thinking, Fast and Slow. The “book is about biases of intuition.” Kahneman, along with a growing number of scientific studies, demonstrates just how error prone our intuitive judgments can be.

As we navigate our lives, we normally allow ourselves to be guided by impressions and feelings, and the confidence we have in our intuitive beliefs and preferences is usually justified. But not always. We are often confident even when we are wrong, and an objective observer is more likely to detect our errors than we are.     

As our guide and objective observer, Kahneman takes us on a tour of the predictable biases (or systematic errors) in human cognition that all of us have. The book is a fascinating read. I highly recommend it. Of course, most of us are aware that people have biases, but Kahneman shows us just how pervasive they are. You’ll be surprised how many times in the book Kahneman sets you up and demonstrates your own biases. Probably the most obvious bias on display during this political season is confirmation bias. For the most part, Democrats and Republicans immediately read information as confirming what they already believe.

Personally, the biggest benefit I took from Kahnman’s book is simple awareness. I can’t say because I’m aware of how pervasive these cognitive biases are that I’m able to avoid them. I’m human, all too human. But being consciously aware and, I believe, honestly trying to avoid them is the best anyone can do.

4 thoughts on “Kahneman and the biases of intuition

  1. I reckons I lived my life off of biases and intuitions. I reckons I’ve regretted some of those biases and intuitions.

    But one time in particular I was walking through the woods with my friend. We were going to a creek behind my house and I wanted to show him all the crawfish holes. At any rate, it was summer and wet. We had shorts on and were walking through the bushes and for whatever reason I suggested we get off the trail and cut through a thicket. As we were walking, I stopped with my foot mid-air. I had stopped and jumped back even before I really knew what I was doing it for. Had I stepped I would have stepped on a timber rattler. I never seen it. Not even through the corner of my eye. I just sensed something before I put my foot down.

    I’ll never forget that as long as I live.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s