Thinking, Fast and Slow

“The similarity was reassuring: the pupil was a good measure of the physical arousal that accompanies mental effort, and we could go ahead and use it to understand how the mind works.”
“The operations of associative memory contribute to a general confirmation bias. When asked, “Is Sam friendly?” Different instances of Sam’s behavior will come to mind than would if you had been asked “Is Sam unfriendly?”
“If you can’t solve a problem, then there is an easier problem you can solve: find it.”
“As Slovic has argued, the amount of concern is not adequately sensitive to the probability of harm; you are imagining the numerator – the tragic story you saw on the news–and not thinking about the denominator.”
“On the other hand, surprising individual cases have a powerful impact and are a more effective tool for teaching psychology because the incongruity must be resolved and embedded in a causal story. That is why this book contains questions that are addressed personally to the reader. You are more likely to learn something by finding surprises in your own behavior than by hearing surprising facts about people in general.”
“A general limitation of the human mind is its imperfect ability to reconstruct past states of knowledge, or beliefs that have changed. Once you adopt a new view of the world (or of any part of it), you immediately lose much of your ability to recall what you used to believe before your mind changed.”
“Foxes, by contrast, are complex thinkers. They don’t believe that one big thing drives the march of history (for example, they are unlikely to accept the view that Ronald Reagan single-handedly ended the Cold War by standing tall against the Soviet Union). Instead the foxes recognize that reality emerges from the interactions of many different agents and forces, including blind luck, often producing large and unpredictable outcomes. It was the foxes who scored best in Tetlock’s study, although their performance was still very poor. But they are less likely than hedgehogs to be invited to participate in television debates.”
“Several studies have shown that human decision makers are inferior to a prediction formula even when they are given the score suggested by the formula! They feel that they can overrule the formula because they have additional information about the case, but they are wrong more often than not.”
“The situations that face a harbor pilot maneuvering large ships are no less regular, but skill is much more difficult to acquire by sheer experience because of the long delay between actions and their noticeable outcomes. Whether professionals have a chance to develop intuitive expertise depends essentially on the quality and speed of feedback, as well as on sufficient opportunity to practice.”
“The poorer man will happily pay a premium to transfer the risk to a richer one, which is what insurance is about.”
“Prospect theory suggested that the willingness to buy or sell the bottle depends on the reference point–whether or not the professor owns the bottle now. If he owns it, he considers the pain of giving up the bottle. If he does not own it, he considers the pleasure of getting the bottle. The values were unequal because of loss aversion: giving up a bottle of nice wine is more painful than getting an equally good bottle is pleasurable. Remember the graph of losses and gains in the previous chapter. The slope of the function is steeper in the negative domain; the response to loss is stronger than the response to corresponding gain.”
“Evaluation is relative to a neutral reference point, which is sometimes referred to as an “adaptation level.” You can easily set up a compelling demonstration of this principle. Place three bowls of water in front of you. Put ice water into the left-hand bowl and warm water into the right-hand bowl. The water in the middle bowl should be at room temperature. Immerse your hands in the cold and warm water for about a minute, then dip both in the middle bowl. You will experience the same temperature as heat in one hand and cold in the other. For financial outcomes, the usual reference point is the status quo, but it can also be the outcome that you expect, or perhaps the outcome to which you feel entitled, for example, the raise or bonus that your colleagues receive. Outcomes that are better than the reference points are gains. Below the reference point they are losses. A principle of diminishing sensitivity applies to both sensory dimensions and the evaluation of changes in wealth. Turning on weak light has a large effect in a dark room. The same increment of light may be undetectable in a brightly illuminated room. Similarly, the subjective difference between $900 and $1,000 is much smaller than the difference between $100 and $200.”
“They were right. Whether the putt was easy or hard, at every distance from the hole, the players were more successful when putting for par than for birdie. The difference in their rate of success when going for par (to avoid a bogey) or a birdie was 3.6%. These fierce competitors certainly do not make a conscious decision to slack off on birdie putts, but their intense aversion to a bogey apparently contributes to extra concentration on the task at hand.”
“Confusing experience with the memory of it is a compelling cognitive illusion–and it is the substitution that makes us believe a past experience can be ruined. The experiencing self does not have a voice. The remembering self is sometimes wrong, but it is the one that keeps score and governs what we learn from living, and it is the one that makes decisions. What we learn from the past is to maximize the qualities of our future memories, not necessarily of our future experience. This is the tyranny of the remembering self.”
“We want pain to be brief and pleasure to last. But our memory, a function of System 1, has evolved to represent the most intense moment of an episode of pain or pleasure (the peak) and the feelings when the episode was at its end.”
“Distinct industries have developed to cater to these alternatives: resorts offer restorative relaxation; tourism is about helping people construct stories and collect memories. The frenetic picture taking of many tourists suggest that storing memories is often an important goal, which shapes both the plans for the vacation and the experience of it. The photographer does not view the scene as a moment to be savored but as a future memory to be designed. Pictures may be useful to the remembering self–though we rarely look at them for very long, or as often as we expected, or even at all–but picture taking is not necessarily the Best Way for the tourist’s experiencing self to enjoy a view.”
“Nothing in life is as important as you think it is when you are thinking about it.”