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Synopsis

The hidden patterns behind the way we make decisions

Several recent books, from Blink to Freakonomics to Predictably Irrational, have examined how people make choices. But none explain why different people have such different styles of decision making—and why those styles seem consistent across many contexts. For instance, why is a gambler always a gambler, whether at work, on the highway, or in a voting booth?

Scott de Marchi and James T. Hamilton present a new theory about how we decide, based on an extensive survey of more than thirty thousand subjects. They show that each of us possesses six core traits that shape every decision, from what to have for lunch to where to invest. We go with “the usual” way of deciding whenever there’s a trade-off between current and future happiness, when facing the risk of a bad outcome, or when a choice might hurt other people. We’re also consistent about how much information we want and how much we care about the opinions of others.

Readers can determine their own decision-making profile with a test in the book. Once they understand the six core traits, they’ll have a big advantage in their marketing campaigns, management strategies, investments, and many other contexts.

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