Marvels and Flaws of Intuitive Thinking

The power of settings, the power of priming, and the power of unconscious thinking, all of those are a major change in psychology.

Daniel Kahneman

… If you want to characterize how something is done, then one of the most powerful ways of characterizing the way the mind does anything is by looking at the errors that the mind produces while it’s doing it because the errors tell you what it is doing. Correct performance tells you much less about the procedure than the errors do.

We focused on errors. We became completely identified with the idea that people are generally wrong. We became like prophets of irrationality. We demonstrated that people are not rational. We never liked this, and one of the reasons we didn’t was because we were our own best subjects. We never thought we were stupid, but we never did anything that didn’t work on us. It’s not that we’re studying the errors of other people, we were constantly studying the way our own minds worked, and even when we knew better, we were able to tell what were the mistakes that were tempting to us, and basically we tried to characterize what were the tempting mistakes…

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DANIEL KAHNEMAN is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus, Princeton University; Recipient, the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences; Author, Thinking Fast and Slow (forthcoming, October 25, 2011).

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