Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases
(544 Pages) (10 Hours)
In this volume, Daniel Kahneman and the late Amos Tversky gathered together 35 authoritative papers that demonstrate through well-designed experiments and through observation the hard-wired biases and heuristics that influence (or define) the way humans go about making choices when the outcomes are from certain.
Some of the papers were very engaging; others, I barely got through without falling asleep. It shouldn't be a surprise that the ones by Kahneman and Tversky are generally among the most exciting and insightful; they won a Nobel for a reason. I think it would have helped a great deal if the editors (Kahneman, Tversky, and Slovic) had written introductory remarks about each paper. As it is, the papers just come one after the other, with no connecting thread other than a broad organization by category.
One thing I did appreciate was reading some of Kahneman and Tversky's original work on concepts that are by now very well-known, such as the representativeness and availability heuristics. These concepts have been written about a lot in a popular science setting, and I think the treatment in these papers is much more nuanced than the typical presentation. My favorite essay in the book was "On the study of statistical intuitions," by Kahneman and Tversky. They discuss some deep potential issues with the general experimental design used for the study of this topic. Among these is the existence of generally and implicitly accepted "rules of conversation" that are often violated by experimenters, broadly speaking, that one's interlocutor will be "informative, truthful, relevant, and clear." I definitely would recommend this book to anyone who undertakes judgment and decision research should own it.