How We Decide
By Jonah Lehrer Houghton Mifflin; 259 pages
Humans are supposed to be rational creatures. But while we strive to base our decisions on thoughtful deliberation and analysis, the occasional fit of passion has been known to creep in. Jonah Lehrer explores these warring impulses, revealing the mind to be a series of competing catalysts, a tangled network of reason and emotion. Using a raft of anecdotes and scientific studies, Lehrer answers some seemingly simple--and highly entertaining--questions. Does expensive wine really taste better than the cheap stuff, or are we biased by the price? Why do we spend more with a credit card than we do when paying with cash? How can we simultaneously desire a healthy diet and quickly devour the slice of chocolate cake in front of us? And what does it really mean when we experience a sudden, inexplicable gut feeling about something? While we can't always control (or understand, for that matter) what our brain tells us, Lehrer writes, we can learn when to rely on reason and when to listen to our emotions. Sometimes a little piece of chocolate cake can be good for you.
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