Psychological research on how people make decisions
Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making
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8th Annual William James Book Award, American Psychological Association, 1993
Scott Plous focuses on the social aspects of decision making and includes everyday examples from medicine, law, business, education, and nuclear arms control, among other areas. Intended for non-specialists, this book highlights experimental findings rather than psychological theory and presents information in descriptive prose rather than through mathematics.
In a "Reader Survey" preceding the first chapter, readers are asked to answer questions that are taken from studies discussed later in the book. This brief (and entertaining) exercise allows readers to compare their answers with the responses people gave in the original studies and to better understand their own processes of choosing.
Plous explores the building blocks of judgment and decision making and contrasts historical models of decision making with recent models that take into account various biases in judgment. In addition, he examines judgments made by and about groups and discusses common traps in judgment and decision making.
"A stunning integration of classic research findings with current approaches to the area.... Readers can experience for themselves the application of this basic research to everyday problems in life."
"Comprehensive and readable...a very fine text."
"Excellently written. Simple and lucid, without evading theoretical and philosophical problems."
"Persuasively demonstrates that research in the social and behavioral sciences has much to say about consequential life decisions."
Part I: Perception, Memory, and Context
Part II: How Questions Affect Answers
Part III: Models of Decision Making
Part IV: Heuristics and Biases
Part V: The Social Side of Judgment and Decision Making
Part VI: Common Traps
Afterword: Taking a Step Back
Scott Plous is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Wesleyan University.