Gerd Gigerenzer (Germany)

Gerd Gigerenzer (Germany)

Psychologist, Author of Risk Savvy

Synopsis

The author of Risk Savvy: How To Make Good Decisions, Gerd Gigerenzer has become one of the foremost names in the understanding of judgement and decision-making. Taking an opposing view to the likes of Daniel Kahneman, Gerd argues the best choices are made not by rationally considering all the probable factors, but through experience and the use of memory and recognition of a situation.

Biography

Gerd Gigerenzer is a psychologist specialising in rationality, problem-solving and decision-making. A director of the Harding Center for Risk Literacy and of the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition at the Max Planck Institute, he actively takes an opposing view of the rational /irrational nature of human decisions.

An acclaimed academic, Gerd has taught in the US and his native Germany specialising in the area of heuristics. Heuristics refers to methods of risk-assessment, decision-making and problem-solving based predominantly on experience rather than rational calculation (be it conscious or subconscious). Gerd’s ideas have come to prominence as the work of the likes of Daniel Kahneman and Dan Ariely has saught to highlight the rational /irrational nature of the mind.

Gerd looks at how decisions are best made in uncertain situations, with unknown variables and factors which should influence us but don’t. He argues that whilst the behavioural economists’ view is one of calculation, ‘semi-ignorance’ of a situation can often lead to better judgements than those with high levels of knowledge. Groups with some basic knowledge will perform as well or better than the experts in sports rankings or investments. Whilst professionals such as the emergency services tend towards using a ‘best guess’ heuristic approach rather than weigh up various provable factors.

Contrary to the work of Daniel Kahneman, Gerd argues rationality is an adaptive tool not strictly governed by rules of formal logic or probability. He suggests that different types of decision or thought require different approaches based on areas such as memory or recognition, rather than a one-size-fits-all rational strategy.

Gerd’s work has produced a number of academic and popular books, each retaining his entertaining and practical approach. Reckoning with Risk: Learning to Live with Uncertainty, and Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious both tackle these idea around how the best reactions and judgements are made and have both been translated into 18 languages. His latest work, Risk Savvy: How To Make Good Decisions has become a global phenomenon as people from all areas of life and business seek to understand the nature of good decision-making.

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