Psychological research on how people make decisions


Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making

Scott Plous

cloth EAN: 978-0-87722-913-1 (ISBN: 0-87722-913-9)
$49.95, Feb 93, Out of Print

8th Annual William James Book Award, American Psychological Association, 1993

"Clearly and engagingly written.... Quite sophisticated in an unassuming way."
Baruch Fischhoff, President, Society for Judgment and Decision Making

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."
Elizabeth Loftus, Former President, Division of Experimental Psychology, American Psychological Association

"Comprehensive and readable...a very fine text."
Paul Slovic, President, Decision Research

"Excellently written. Simple and lucid, without evading theoretical and philosophical problems."
Willem Wagenaar, Professor of Experimental Psychology, Leiden University, The Netherlands

"Persuasively demonstrates that research in the social and behavioral sciences has much to say about consequential life decisions."
Mark Snyder, Professor of Psychology, University of Minnesota


Reader Survey

Part I: Perception, Memory, and Context
1. Selective Perception
2. Cognitive Dissonance
3. Memory and Hindsight Biases
4. Context Dependence

Part II: How Questions Affect Answers
5. Plasticity
6. The Effects of Question Wording and Framing

Part III: Models of Decision Making
7. Expected Utility Theory
8. Paradoxes in Rationality
9. Descriptive Models of Decision Making

Part IV: Heuristics and Biases
10. The Representativeness Heuristic
11. The Availability Heuristic
12. Probability and Risk
13. Anchoring and Adjustment
14. The Perception of Randomness
15. Correlation, Causation, and Control
16. Attribution Theory

Part V: The Social Side of Judgment and Decision Making
17. Social Influences
18. Group Judgments and Decisions

Part VI: Common Traps
19. Overconfidence
20. Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
21. Behavioral Traps

Afterword: Taking a Step Back
Further Reading
Author Index
Subject Index


About the Author(s)

Scott Plous is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Wesleyan University.

Subject Categories

Labor Studies and Work


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