Do we make decisions rationally or emotionally? Both.
The Decisive Moment – the new book by Jonah Lehrer – is about how we make decisions – except it’s not ‘us’, it’s our brains. It turns out that decision making, far from being the rational process we all like to pride ourselves on, is actually led by our emotions, which are largely beyond our conscious control.
‘Even when we think we know nothing, our brains know something,’ Lehrer says – ie we know much more non-consciously than comes to conscious awareness, and our brains use this information to make decisions, sometimes in the face of what we know logically.
This is what we teach on our speed-reading/photoreading courses – that the non-conscious mind is our learning brain taking in huge amounts of information that we are not aware of. And we use this fact to encourage people to read more quickly, using speed reading eye patterns to look for ‘hot spots’ of key information, or to trust when using the downloading/photoreading technique that the information really is going into your non-conscious mind!
One message: if you are already an expert on a subject, then trust your gut reaction when making a decision. If you know little about the subject, then find out more and make a logical decision.
By the way, one decision we can help you make. If you want to get a copy of the book, make sure you get ‘The Decisive Moment’ and not ‘How we decide’ by the same author. Turns out it’s the same book with a different title and a higher price! How rational is that???
If you haven’t got time to read the book, then check out reviews in the New Scientist (21 Feb 2009) and The Sunday Times (1 March 2009) or listen to it on BBC.