The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making

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Overview

Americans are faced with a bewildering array of choices. In this lively introduction to psychological research on how people make decisions, 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 nonspecialists, this book highlights experimental findings rather than psychological theory and presents information in descriptive prose rather than through mathematics. A unique feature of the volume is the "Reader Survey" that precedes 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. In a comprehensive yet nontechnical presentation, Plous explores the building blocks of judgment and decision making: perception, memory, context, and question format. He contrasts historical models of decision making with recent models that take into account various biases in judgment. In addition, the author examines judgments made by and about groups and discusses common traps in judgment and decision making. Not only does he suggest ways to improve decision making, but he offers the following pledge to readers not yet familiar with research on judgment and decision making: "By judiciously applying the results described in this book, you should be better able to avoid decision biases, errors, and traps, and you will better understand the decisions made by other people."
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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Marketing
''Contains a wonderful selection of the classic studies on psychology.''
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780877229131
  • Publisher: Temple University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/1994
  • Pages: 302

Table of Contents

Forword
Preface
Reader Survey 1
Sect. I Perception, Memory, and Context 13
Ch. 1 Selective Perception 15
Ch. 2 Cognitive Dissonance 22
Ch. 3 Memory and Hindsight Biases 31
Ch. 4 Context Dependence 38
Sect. II How Questions Affect Answers 49
Ch. 5 Plasticity 51
Ch. 6 The Effects of Question Wording and Framing 64
Sect. III Models of Decision Making 77
Ch. 7 Expected Utility Theory 79
Ch. 8 Paradoxes in Rationality 84
Ch. 9 Descriptive Models of Decision Making 94
Sect. IV Heuristics and Biases 107
Ch. 10 The Representativeness Heuristic 109
Ch. 11 The Availability Heuristic 121
Ch. 12 Probability and Risk 131
Ch. 13 Anchoring and Adjustment 145
Ch. 14 The Perception of Randomness 153
Ch. 15 Correlation, Causation, and Control 162
Ch. 16 Attention Theory 174
Sect. V The Social Side of Judgment and Decision Making 189
Ch. 17 Social Influences 191
Ch. 18 Group Judgments and Decisions 205
Sect. VI Common Traps 215
Ch. 19 Overconfidence 217
Ch. 20 Self-Fulfilling Prophecies 231
Ch. 21 Behavioral Traps 241
Afteword: Taking a Step Back 253
Further Reading 262
References 264
Credits 293
Author Index 295
Subject Index 299
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  • Posted November 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Scientific rundown on decision making in lay terms

    Making the right decisions is seldom easy. Situations change and choices confound. Faulty perceptions and biases can block clear thinking and undermine the ability to weigh alternatives rationally. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo explained 90 years ago, "We may try to see things as objectively as we please. Nonetheless, we can never see them with any eyes except our own." This is the vexing paradox involved in making decisions: People who are in the process of deciding cannot always trust their own perceptions and thought processes. Psychologist Scott Plous, winner of numerous awards and honors, examines decision making in this rigorously scientific yet mostly accessible book, itself an award winner. getAbstract believes it will interest decision analysts, researchers, psychologists and strategists, as well as readers who want to know why they may make poor decisions and how to make better ones.

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