Personal Decision Making (textbook about applied decision-making, for the class I'm taking right now)

The reason the book struck me as interesting was the author is employed at the university I'm going to, so if I get stuck its possible I could go and talk to him myself, and that its based in experimental psychology / psychology of decision making research.

The "3 Secrets" the book talks about are various techniques for addressing and recognizing biases, recognizing and overcoming failures of creativity, and developing the courage necessary to make and commit to rational choices. It covers various techniques for dealing with each of these dimensions of decision making, such as forced fit and stimulus variation for creativity.

From his blurb at the uni website:

"Dr. Anderson has been teaching at Portland State University since 1968. He received his B.A. in Psychology from Stanford University in 1957 and his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from The Johns Hopkins University in 1963. His current interests are in applications of decision psychology and decision analysis to personal decision making and public policy decision making."

From the book sleeve:

"Barry F. Anderson is professor emeritus of Psychology at Portland State University. He teaches courses on Personal Decision Making,
Decision Psychology, Conflict Resolution, and Ethical Decision Making. He also publishes in the areas of cognitive psychology and judgment and decision making and consults on personal decisions and on public and private policy decisions. In The Three Secrets of Wise Decision Making he uses his many years of varied experience to bring the technology of rational decision making to the lay reader in a manner that is understandable, engaging, and readily applicable to real-life decision making."

from the website:

"As the world has become more complex and information more abundant, decisions have become more difficult. As the pace of change and the range of choice have increased, decisions have to be made more often. Yet most of us still make decisions with no more knowledge about decision processes than our ancestors had in a simpler age, hundreds of years ago.

    Mathematicians, economists, psychologists, and practitioners have developed a variety of powerful and easily applied tools for decision making. Evidence is accumulating that better decision processes lead to better outcomes and that unaided human decision processes are not good enough for many decisions. More to the present point, evidence is also accumulating that learning better decision processes can make people better decision makers in their daily lives. The Three Secrets of Wise Decision Making brings the best of the new methods to the intelligent reader.

    The Three Secrets is designed expressly to help people make better decisions. It has been repeatedly tested in a course on personal decision making. The approach of the book is unabashedly practical. Except for portions of the second chapter, the emphasis is consistently on what to do. What the second chapter does is provide a brief overview of basic cognitive processes and the ways in which they tend to limit decision quality and also a brief explanation of the basic decision aids and the ways in which each supplements basic cognitive processes to enhance rationality, creativity, or judgment—the "three secrets". Some understanding of why the techniques are needed and how they work should enable the reader to apply them with greater effectiveness and satisfaction.

    The Three Secrets is organized around the Decision Ladder, a structured array of techniques to suit all decision problems and all decision makers. The Ladder extends from largely intuitive approaches, at the bottom, to decision trees, at the top. The key rung on the Ladder is the decision table and its variants: fact tables, plusses-and-minuses value tables, and 1-to-10 value tables. In the last chapter, the decision tree is introduced as a more sophisticated way of dealing with risky decisions and sequences of decisions. It is recommended that the reader start at the bottom of the Decision Ladder when beginning work on any decision problem and work up only so far as necessary. This keeps the process of decision making from becoming more complicated than would be appropriate for either the decision problem or the decision maker.

    The Three Secrets is richly provided with examples taken from life. One of the examples, Amelia’s career decision, runs through the entire book, adding human interest and conceptual continuity."


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Books with such titles are ten a penny. Why does this one stand above the rest, to be worth drawing to our attention?

That it's a text is slight evidence in its favour. But Voltairina - please do edit the post to elaborate on what struck you about this one.

Thanks! I included some more information about the author. What other kinds of information should I include? I don't know much about the field yet specifically, but I could try to find out which journals he publishes in, I suppose, and what their reputations are?

I would consider reading this post much more worthwhile if you listed the 'three secrets'. Since the text is available anyway, it shouldn't be an issue of scooping his book?

I skimmed through a few pages to find them and gave up. I appreciated his example about the guy making his career choice, but wondered if it was too convenient. I wonder if my decisions could be solved so cleverly, if I had the training..

Okay, I changed the post a bit. They're in the inside front cover anyways, more or less - there's a key that's supposed to remind the reader of the most important parts of the book.