Straight Choices

The Psychology of Decision Making

By Ben R. Newell, David A. Lagnado, David R. Shanks

© 2007 – Psychology Press

264 pages | 20 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
New in Paperback: 9781841695891
pub: 2010-05-14
Hardback: 9781841695884
pub: 2007-06-14

e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

We all face a perplexing array of decisions every day. Straight Choices provides an integrative account of the psychology of decision making, in which clear connections are made between empirical results and how these results can help us to understand our uncertain world.

Throughout the text, there is an emphasis on the relationship between learning and decision making. The authors argue that the best way to understand how and why decisions are made is in the context of the learning and knowledge acquisition that precedes them and the feedback that follows them. The mechanisms of learning and the structure of environments in which decisions are made are carefully examined to explore the ways in which they act on our choices. From this, the authors go on to consider whether we are all constrained to fall prey to biases or whether with sufficient exposure can we find optimal decision strategies and improve our decision making.

This novel approach integrates findings from the decision and learning literatures to provide a unique perspective on the psychology of decision making. It will be of interest to researchers and students in cognitive psychology, as well as researchers in economics and philosophy interested in the nature of decision making.


"What distinguishes this book is not only its clear and lucid style, but also that it covers a number of new and emerging areas. It not only provides a good basis for understanding contemporary theory and research, but also includes important pointers to the ways the area is likely to develop over the next few years." - A. John Maule, Professor of Human Decision Making, Leeds University Business School, UK

"Straight Choices captures the excitement and innovative nature of research into decision making in everyday life and leaves the reader hungry to learn more. It is a remarkable springboard into understanding what we know and to developing one's own decision making skills." - Robin M. Hogarth, ICREA Research Professor, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain

Table of Contents

Preface. Falling Off the Straight and Narrow. Decision Quality and an Historical Context. Stages of Judgment I: Discovering, Acquiring and Combining Information. Stages of Judgment II: Feedback Effects and Dynamic Environments. Appraising Probability Judgments. Judgmental Heuristics and Biases. Associative Thinking. Analysing Decisions I: A General Framework. Analysing Decisions II: Prospect Theory and Preference Reversals. Decisions Across Time. Learning to Choose, Choosing to Learn. Optimality, Expertise and Insight. Emotional Influences on Decision Making. Group Decision Making. Going Straight: The View from Outside the Laboratory.

About the Authors

Ben Newell is a Senior lecturer in Cognitive Psychology in the School of Psychology at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and a Research Fellow of the UCL Centre for Economic Learning and Social Evolution. Dr Newell’s research interests include judgment and decision making; behavioural economics and the implicit-explicit distinction in human learning and memory.

David Lagnado is a lecturer in Cognitive and Decision Sciences in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at University College London, England and a Research Fellow of the UCL Centre for Economic Learning and Social Evolution. Dr. Lagnado’s research interests include causal and probabilistic reasoning, judgment and decision making, and questions of rationality.

David Shanks is head of the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, and Professor of Psychology, at University College London, England, and is a founder member of the UCL Centre for Economic Learning and Social Evolution. Professor Shanks’ research interests include learning, memory, and decision making; the neuroscience of memory and amnesia, and the associated implicit-explicit distinction; computational modeling, especially with neural network models; and behavioural economics.

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