Notebook, 1993-



To look at . . . . Contemplate . . . . Quick and ready insight . . . . Immediate apprehension or cognition . . . . Knowledge or conviction without evident rational thought and inference . . . .

[From Coon, Introduction to Psychology: Learning & Cognition]
We often make decisions on the basis of intuition rather than logic. Doing so may provide quick answers, but it can also be misleading and sometimes disastrous. Two noted psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky have spend 20 years studying how people make decisions and predictions in the face of uncertainty. They have found, to put it bluntly, that human judgment is often seriously flawed. Short cuts to answers often short-circuit clear thinking. Common errors in judgment:

1. Representativeness. A choice is given greater weight if it seems to be representative of what we already know. A choice seems to better represent a model and therefore seems more likely, even though it isn't. The likelihood of two events occurring together is lower than the probability of either alone. For example: The probability of getting one head when flipping a coin is one-half, or .5. And, the probablity of getting two heads when flipping two coins is one-fourth, or .25.

2. Underlying Odds. A second common error in judgment involves ignoring the base rate, or underlying probability of an event. Estimates should be made at at 70-30 rate, if that is the base rate--even if, intuitively, there seems a 50-50 chance. In many high-risk situations, ignoring base rates is the same as tinking you are an exception to the rule.

3. Framing. The way a problem is stated, or framed, affects decisions. People often give different answers to the same problem stated in slightly different ways. Usually, the broadest way of framing or stating a problems produces the most rational decisions. However, people often state problems in increasingly narrow terms until a single, seemingly "obvious" answer emerges. For example, to select a career, it would be wise to consider pay, working conditions, job satisfaction, needed skills, future employment outlook, and many other factors. Instead, such decisions are often narrowed to thoughts such as, "I like to write, so I'll be a journalist."

R  E  F  E  R  E  N  C  E  S 
Intuition n [ME intuycyon, fr. LL intuition-, intuitio act of contemplating, fr. L intuéri to look at, contemplate, fr. in- + tuéri to look at] [15c] 1: quick and ready insight 2 a: immediate apprehension or cognition b: knowledge or conviction gained by intuition c: the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference

Intuitive adj [1621] 1a: known or perceived by intution: directly apprehended [had an __ awareness of his sister's feelings] b: knowable by intuition 2: Knowing or perceiving by intution 3: possessing or given to intution or insight [an __ mind]

[Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition. Springfield, MA, USA: Merriam-Webster, Inc. 1995.]



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