Friday, January 27, 2012

The problem with snap judgements

Snap judgements, we make them all the time.  It is often faster and more convenient to make quick decisions than to slowly work through additional information, whether we are shopping or even deciding if we should trust someone.  The only problem with these snap decisions is that they might be ill informed and wrong.

Mark, a friend with whom I walk in the morning, shared a "simple" puzzle from a book by Dan Kahneman's book, "Thinking, Fast and Slow".

Here is the "simple" puzzle. Don't try to solve it logically, but rather listen to your intuition:
A bat and ball together cost a total of $1.10.
The bat costs one dollar more than the ball.
How much does the ball cost?

For most of us the number that comes to mind is 10 cents. This puzzle evokes and answer that is intuitive, appealing and wrong. Do the math and you'll see. If the ball costs $.10, then the total cost will be $1.20 ($.10 for the ball and $1.10 for the bat)--not $1.10. The correct answer is 5 cents.

Mr. Kahneman also notes how we tend to generalize from our experiences with the concept of "What you see is all there is" (WYSIATI).  This method of making judgements provides an "illusion of validity", thus making it easy for us to develop broad generalizations from our limited experiences or information.

In a world where we are bombarded by information, this serves as a reminder to slow down in our decision making. It also challenges us to gather information from multiple sources, and allow time for the processing of information... that is at least if we hope to have a better chance of making a more accurate judgement.  

No comments:

Post a Comment