How to Evaluate Information More Effectively and Make More Rewarding Decisions
Understanding the most common shortcomings in how people seek out and evaluate information is the key to making better decisions. Whether picking a stock, choosing a mate, starting a new division, or planning a military operation, the quality of our decisions is only as sound as the judgments on which they are based. A clear-headed analysis of the most common sorts of biases—and the most common failures of critical thinking—is therefore essential for effective action. The bulk of Tom's career has been devoted to understanding the ways people misread the evidence presented to them in their everyday and professional lives and how doing so leads to faulty beliefs, unsound judgments, and disastrous courses of action.
Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes
Why do so many smart people make unwise financial decisions? Why are investors too quick to sell winning stocks and too inclined to hang on to their losers? Why are so many smart people unprepared for their retirement years? Drawing upon the psychological insights that have given birth to the field of behavioral economics, Tom explains the features of how the mind works that give rise to problems in how even the smartest people, and the smartest organizations, make financial decisions.
The Value in Shades of Gray
If Tom Gilovich could wave a magic wand and change one element of human nature, he would be tempted to eliminate the powerful human tendency to think in black-and-white terms. People are inclined to believe that others are either all good or all bad, that ideas are either brilliant or terrible, or someone is “either with us or against us.” In reality, most things in life are a shade of gray and people would have a more accurate and more nuanced understanding of their world if they could learn to think more dialectically, to tolerate inconsistency, and to keep multiple perspectives in mind at the same time. Among other things, doing so would help to keep in check the tendency toward overconfidence, the cause of many of the most common, and most disastrous, human follies.
Happiness and All Its Benefits
Why is sustained happiness so easy for some people and so hard for others? What “tricks” do happy people know and how can they be put to use to help those who are less happy? A particular focus of Tom's work on these issues—during a period of unprecedented material abundance—is on how people can best use their disposable income to bring about the most enduring happiness and well-being. What can modern psychology tell us about how we can not only pursue “fun” and “pleasure,” but how we can achieve a sense of meaningful existence and enduring satisfaction while doing so. (Answer: A lot!)