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Decisions, Decisions

May 6, 2010

Filed under: Coaching,observations,Uncategorized,Wellness — admin @ 4:20 pm

“How We Decide”, a fascinating book by Jonah Lehrer, is another is the long line of texts trying to explain to the general public how our brains work.

Lehrer uses real life examples to illustrate science, helping us understand the split-second decisions made by NFL quarterbacks, airline pilots, and even soldiers in combat situations.

A good portion of the book retraces many of the points made by the now-popular science of behavioral economics – books such as “Freakonomics,’ ‘Predictably Irrational’ and ‘Nudge.’ In fact all these books seem to use the same set of experiments to prove their points.

As their most basic level they all help us understand why marketing works as well as it does.

But Lehrer’s biggest contribution may be his last few chapters as he explains the process that scientists think goes on in our brains as we make a decision. Using fMRI which measures brain activity, they can look at which sections of the brain are most active as we make various kinds of decisions. Everything from simple “either-or” choices to more complex moral decisions based on values that are ingrained at a very early age.

His conclusion,- that decisions are basically a three way battle – suggests that the best tactic is to let brain’s thought centers battle things out, while you take a break.

Unconsciously, your brain will make a decision and your conscious mind will announce it. It may seem like an unconscious act but you really have no idea what was going on in your brain.

One section I found particularly helpful is the explanation of what’s really going on when we’re positive we have the right answer to almost anything. From politics to predicting human behavior, Lehrer notes, if we’re that sure, we’re probably wrong because we tend to ignore facts that don’t support the decision we already made.

So if you’re looking for something that’s easy to read on the beach but has a little more substance than that romance novel or murder mystery, try ‘How We Decide,’ and see what’s really going on between your ears.

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