Solomon Asch: The Myth of Perfect Information by Sam McNerney on Thinking, Fast and Slow
I want to tell you about some research that will change the way you think about thinking.
Imagine you’re about to interview someone for an important job. Your colleague informs you the candidate is intelligent, industrious, impulsive, critical, stubborn, and envious. You might picture someone who knows what he wants. He might be occasionally impatient and forceful, but he is hard working and ambitious. He puts his intelligence to good use.
Now imagine you’re about to interview someone else for the same job. This time, your colleague tells you the candidate is envious, stubborn, critical, impulsive, industrious, and intelligent. You might picture someone with a “problem.” Although he is intelligent, the candidate is prone to moments of rage and jealousy. His bad qualities will surely overshadow his lighter side.
In 1946, the American psychologist Solomon Asch gathered 58 participants and split them into two groups. The first group read about a person who was intelligent, industrious, impulsive, critical, stubborn, and envious. The second group read about the same person but with a twist. When Solomon Asch reversed the order of the qualities, participants imagined an entirely different person. Some qualities that people in the first group perceived as positive (impulsive and critical) were perceived as negative.
Solomon Asch was not the first person to notice that we make unreliable snap judgments based on limited information. Just about every philosopher and writer has commented on our malleable social intuitions.
Solomon Asch was one of the first scientists to empirically show that there is no such thing as neutral information. Even though his experiment revealed a quirk in how we evaluate other people—the study was published in a journal dedicated to social psychology—his findings apply to nearly every aspect of life. How information is ordered and how it is framed will invariably influence our judgment one way or another.
Major New York Times bestseller
Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award in 2012
Selected by the New York Times Book Review as one of the best books of 2011
A Globe and Mail Best Books of the Year 2011 Title
One of The Economist‘s 2011 Books of the Year
One of The Wall Street Journal‘s Best Nonfiction Books of the Year 2011
2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient
In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation–each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.
Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives–and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011, Thinking, Fast and Slow is destined to be a classic.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman