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Thinking, fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking, fast and slow (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Daniel Kahneman

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4,6951141,010 (4.14)136
Title:Thinking, fast and slow
Authors:Daniel Kahneman
Info:New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:work, psychology, decision making, economics

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Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (2011)


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Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel Prize in economics for the work he did with his long-time intellectual partner, Amos Tversky. (Tversky probably would have shared in the prize had he lived.) Remarkably, neither man was an economist — rather, they were psychologists whose work had extraordinary economic consequences. In this outstanding book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman restates, summarizes, and popularizes much of their joint research. [Michael Lewis’s new book, The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds… is about their relationship.]

A unifying theme of this book is that the human mind operates in at least two distinct and separate ways. The first way (the author calls it System 1) is instinctive, nearly instantaneous, efficient, very useful, but often misleading and sometimes downright wrong. The second way (System 2) is deliberate, ratiocinative, relatively slow, and generally more accurate than System 1. But, as Kahneman shows, System 2 also can be self-deceptive.

Kahneman begins by elaborating on the basic elements of the two-systems approach to making choices. He then explores why it is so difficult for us to think “statistically” rather than, say, associatively, or metaphorically. The third part describes “our excessive confidence in what we believe we know, and our apparent inability to acknowledge the full extent of our ignorance….” [This of course has a lot of significance lately given all the speculation over why so many people adhere to "alternative facts."]

In the fourth part, Kahneman addresses the standard economic model that posits economic agents act rationally. Kahneman’s work is significant for economics because he demonstrates that real people “are not well described by the rational agent model” that is the basis of the Chicago School and much other economic analysis. It is not that people are always or even mostly irrational, but that there are occasions where it is extremely difficult to be perfectly consistent in one’s beliefs.

Finally, he reviews recent research that introduced the fascinating distinction between “the experiencing self” and “the remembering self,” which, as he demonstrates, “do not have the same interests.” Which one will guide us, and which one will inform our determination of “well-being”?

Kahneman and Tversky influenced and were influenced by University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler. Together, they helped form a new discipline called behavioral economics. One of the more interesting consequences of their analyses is a departure from the strictly laissez faire approach to public policy advocated by Milton Friedman to the slightly more paternalistic approach advocated by Thaler in Misbehaving and by Thaler and Cass Sunstein in their best seller, Nudge.

The book is dedicated to the memory of Amos Tversky, who died in 1996.

Evaluation: Thinking, Fast and Slow is extremely stimulating and very lucidly written. It is considered to be a “landmark” in economics and an intellectual tour de force.

(JAB) ( )
  nbmars | Apr 26, 2017 |
I'm not entirely sure that I can adequately review Thinking Fast and Slow. It's so chock full of fantastic ideas, insights, and information that I'm afraid even trying to comment on it will make me look like a fool.

Let me just say, then, that Thinking Fast and Slow is absolutely fascinating, a book worth reading and rereading, especially if you're of the self-improvement, self-examining type. Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winner for his work in Behavioral Economics has a fascinating mind, and I felt like I had a front-row seat to one of the most incredible lectures about decision making, heuristics, and judgment that had ever been given.

And here's where I start to worry about sounding like a fool: this just isn't my field of expertise. Sure, I love learning and I consider myself to be, in many respects, an autodidact. But Thinking Fast and Slow is, if I'm not mistaken, a summary of all of Kahneman's work from the last fifty years (or more?). It's gobstoppingly dense with studies Kahneman and his fellow researchers have devised to examine who people think, and I quell the thought of trying to comment on it.

But I will gladly comment about it. Thinking Fast and Slow has been, over the weeks that I've been reading it, easily the book I've recommended most, and I admit having to suppress some excitement when someone tells me that they've ordered the book from Amazon. Even if you don't like economics, or maybe especially if you don't like economics, Kahneman's research is accessible to anyone with even a modicum of interest in society, decision-making, or how we think and exercise judgment. Rather than describe the world in terms of complex equations and graphs--though there are certainly a lot of graphs--Kahneman seems to be constantly devising thought experiments to understand how and why people act in certain situations. What a life it must be to be Kahneman, self-tasked with identifying the 'how' and 'why' of any particular decision, whether it is discerning who the best candidates are for officer training from among a cadre of soldiers during field exercises, or figuring out how to redesign the food pyramid to be a food pie, there seems to be no end of topics or situations where behavioral economics can be applied with some revelatory success.

One part of especial interest to me was the section, near the end, when Kahneman begins to describe memory, pain, and suffering. If I understand right, Kahneman makes the point that research shows that it isn't the measurement of pleasure, happiness, or well-being over the duration of an event--such as a surgery, marriage, or vacation--that matters so much as how the event ends that we remember. Even if the event was, for the most part, a wonderful or positive experience we still remember the event based on how it ends. Shakespeare might put this as "All's well that ends well." For me, it's a paradigm-shifting insight about the importance not only of getting things right but also ending things right. How we remember things is, essentially, flawed, and what we are left with in memory often conflicts with what the experience was as a whole.

Anyway, Thinking Fast and Slow is a great book. Prospect theory, framing, reference points, loss versus gain, and more are all raised and addressed and explored, and I am sure I will return to it again soon. I think I probably read it far too quickly, too eager to absorb concepts, and I feel there's more here to understand and examine. ( )
  publiusdb | Jan 10, 2017 |
Thought and thinking; Decision making; Intuition; Reasoning
  Biovitrum | Jan 9, 2017 |
Thinking, Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman is an incisive, academic, cogent, and far-reaching piece of work that should be part of everyone’s library.

Nobel Prize winning Kahneman unleashes a foray into the domain of decision-making, psychology & problem-solving unlike nothing ever seen within this discipline previously. Kahneman is the individual responsible as to why the subject of Behavioral Economics has grown as fast as its grown for quite some time.

Kahneman meticulously tackles many thought-provoking aspects in psychology with scrupulous scientific rigor. This book is the author’s magnum opus, without a doubt.

This relentless journey into the domain of the brain leaves no stone unturned, which is why Kahneman work has become unprecedented to economists and others alike.

The author parses his main idea into two sets. The brain, according to Kahneman, splits things into a binary cognitive system. This is what the author denotes as System 1, and System 2.

System 1 is automatic, emotive, unconscious, responsible for lightning-quick decisions, whilst System 2 is methodical, incisive, conscious, and orderly.

Each system plays its part in shaping the world in how we see it. The book tackles nigh every little crevice available to the author in search for the understanding of the above-mentioned systems, its ramifications, and what we can learn do to learn from each.

However, in interest of full disclosure this is not the quickest book to read, even for avid readers unless one is perhaps hyper interested in the subject matter. The book is also quite repetitive in a few spots. Then again, some people learn better from rereading things a few times, and from different angles, so take that for whats it worth.

Still, the book is chock-full of intriguing data sets and experiments, and the way in which the concepts are discussed, although overly methodical in certain spots, is definitely worth the read.

Kahneman’s journey into the studies discussed attempts to leave no stone unturned in his bid to shed light into the ideas of the illusion of validity, narrow framing, planning fallacies, regression to the mean, the illusion of understanding, the endowment effect, and much, much more.

Ultimately the book seeks to show us how we can trust ourselves – our brain – better, and how to succeed in understanding the various facets that cognitive behavior goes through. Coupled with that, Kahneman also makes it a point to give individuals practical ways in which to hone our mental skill and be able to use System 1 and System 2 in a way that benefits us most.

If you are an individual that is serious about the inner workings of the mind, especially in regards to decision making, the book – although lengthy – will keep you busy pondering many seams from which to draw wisdom from. ( )
  ZyPhReX | Jan 5, 2017 |
I guess I wasn't in the right frame of mind to read this book :-)
  Iambookish | Dec 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
The replication crisis in psychology does not extend to every line of inquiry, and just a portion of the work described in Thinking, Fast and Slow has been cast in shadows. Kahneman and Tversky’s own research, for example, turns out to be resilient. Large-scale efforts to recreate their classic findings have so far been successful. One bias they discovered—people’s tendency to overvalue the first piece of information that they get, in what is known as the “anchoring effect”—not only passed a replication test, but turned out to be much stronger than Kahneman and Tversky thought.

Still, entire chapters of Kahneman’s book may need to be rewritten.
added by elenchus | editSlate.com, Daniel Engber (Dec 1, 2016)
"It is an astonishingly rich book: lucid, profound, full of intellectual surprises and self-help value. It is consistently entertaining and frequently touching..."
added by melmore | editNew York Times, Jim Holt (Nov 25, 2011)
Thinking, Fast and Slow is nonetheless rife with lessons on how to overcome bias in daily life.

» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Daniel Kahnemanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Egan, PatrickReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eivind LilleskjæretTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gunnar NyquistTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Every author, I suppose, has in mind a setting in which readers of his or her work could benefit from having read it.
extreme outcomes (both high and low) are more likely to be found in small than in large samples. This explanation is not causal. The small population of a county neither causes nor prevents cancer; it merely allows the incidence of cancer to be much higher (or much lower) than it is in the larger population. The deeper truth is that there is nothing to explain. The incidence of cancer is not truly lower or higher than normal in a county with a small population, it just appears to be so in a particular year because of an accident of sampling. If we repeat the analysis next year, we will observe the same general pattern of extreme results in the small samples, but the counties where cancer was common last year will not necessarily have a high incidence this year. If this is the case, the differences between dense and rural counties do not really count as facts: they are what scientists call artifacts, observations that are produced entirely by some aspect of the method of research - in this case, by differences in sample size. p 111
Even now, you must exert some mental effort to see that the following two statements mean exactly the same thing: Large samples are more precise than small samples. Small samples yield extreme results more often than large samples do. p 111
When experts and the public disagree on their priorities, [Paul Slovic] says, 'Each side must respect the insights and intelligence of the other.' p 140
You can also take precautions that will inoculate you against regret. Perhaps the most useful is to b explicit about the anticipation of regret. If you can remember when things go badly that you considered the possibility of regret carefully before deciding, you are likely to experience less of it. You should also know that regret and hindsight bias will come together, so anything you can do to preclude hindsight is likely to be helpful. My personal hindsight-avoiding policy is to be either very thorough or completely casual when making a decision with long-term consequences. Hindsight is worse when you think a little, just enough to tell yourself later, 'I almost made a better choice.'     Daniel Gilbert and his colleagues provocatively claim that people generally anticipate more regret than they will actually experience, because they underestimate the efficacy of the psychological defenses they will deploy - which they label the 'psychological immune system.' Their recommendation is that you should not put too much weight on regret; even if you have some, it will hurt less than you now think.p 352
Unless there is an obvious reason to do otherwise, most of us passively accept decision problems as they are framed and therefore rarely have an opportunity to discover the extent to which our preferences are frame-bound rather than reality-bound. p 367
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Le système 1 est rapide , intuitif et émotionel ;le système 2 est plus lent , plus réfléchi , plus controléet plus logique .Fruit d toute une vie de recherche ''Système 1/Système 2" dessine une théorie brillante ,qui offer des prolongements pratiques immédiats dans la vie quotidienne et professionnelle.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374275637, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2011: Drawing on decades of research in psychology that resulted in a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, Daniel Kahneman takes readers on an exploration of what influences thought example by example, sometimes with unlikely word pairs like "vomit and banana." System 1 and System 2, the fast and slow types of thinking, become characters that illustrate the psychology behind things we think we understand but really don't, such as intuition. Kahneman's transparent and careful treatment of his subject has the potential to change how we think, not just about thinking, but about how we live our lives. Thinking, Fast and Slow gives deep--and sometimes frightening--insight about what goes on inside our heads: the psychological basis for reactions, judgments, recognition, choices, conclusions, and much more.  --JoVon Sotak

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:22 -0400)

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Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities and also the faults and biases of fast thinking, and the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on peoples' thoughts and choices.

(summary from another edition)

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