Daniel Kahneman is an Israeli psychiatrist and neuroscientist most famous for his influential work on choice and judgment, particularly in the realm of behavioral science, and for his research on the mind and emotions. His most important contribution to the field of neuroscience has been his demonstration that we are “hard-wired” to make certain decisions regarding choice under certain circumstances. His work shows that we make decisions not based on reasoning, logic, or objective facts but based on what we believe will happen, leading to a form of emotive decision making. Kahneman has called this ‘illusory’ thinking and has said that our emotional reaction to what happens determines our behavior. His work is deeply important in understanding how and why people make decisions.
In his widely-acclaimed bestseller Better Than Good: The Science of Getting More Done, Kahneman examines the process of choosing among options and makes the argument that it isn’t merely a matter of what is on the surface – how a decision might affect us or others. Rather, it is an intense encounter with the subjective, personal, and irrationality of human action. For instance, choosing among available cars rather than one is not just a matter of cost or convenience, but also involves a deeper analysis of our emotions. If we choose incorrectly, we feel bad about it, and if we make the right decision, then that will bring happiness and joy. However, making the wrong decision will bring a negative emotional response, such as anxiety, depression, or sorrow.
How different can a decision made in one context be compared to a different choice made in another? How different would your life be if you lived, for example, in a small rural community where everyone knew each other and where crime did not exist? Your social network may consist of your close family and friends. Yet, when it comes to making decisions such as whether to purchase a new car or not, you make them based on your own individual preferences. So you have to ask yourself how different your life could be if you only knew two people who knew you well and were friendly.
Daniel Kahneman points out that many of our greatest technological advances have occurred in small scale organizations where everybody knows each other. This “social capital” increases the overall productivity of a society as it creates a sense of community and mutual aid. But does this mean that all individual choices in life are meaningless? Not at all.
Individuals have the ability to influence the future using their own sets of emotions, which is completely different from choosing one architect over another. This book shows how this “emotion machine” can be turned into a tool by which people can plan their lives, improve their careers, earn more, and even save their marriage or divorce from failure. Each chapter contains an essay by a different person who is living an experience similar to yours. It takes you deep inside of your heart to reveal the way you decide and how you feel. The most valuable insights come from the chapters on “reasons to be angry” and “what is love.”
Daniel Kahneman shows us how we can make better decisions when we pay attention to our emotional response to certain situations. When we see someone doing wrong, we are naturally attracted to respond in a manner that makes us feel good about ourselves. But when this is not an option, we cannot help but make a judgment about that person. If he does something wrong, it is OK to be upset about it, but we need to remember that there are some things that are not OK no matter what. Our choice architecture for life is therefore very complex and this book helps us to master it. We gain insight into why some choices are better than others and also why we often make poor ones.
When we choose an architect, it is because we know that person will fulfill our needs, guide us, support us, and make us happy. In short, we are looking for an architect whom we can trust and rely upon. The key is choosing one who has the right balance of emotions. The book provides insights into the best ways to build this kind of relationship by showing how to use your emotions well and how to use the information they give you to guide you through the difficult decision making process. The result is a person who can be very effective as an architect, bringing happiness to the lives of those around him.
Although the focus is on an aspect of life, the book is very broad in its coverage and the insights you gain will apply to all areas of your life. Reading this book will help you see yourself in a different way and develop new ways of looking at your relationships, career, home, and city. It is important to develop the skills to control your emotions in order to become an effective architect. Once you master this ability, you will find yourself attracted to architects who have the ability to do just that.