Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious” as Want to Read:
Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  1,840 ratings  ·  174 reviews
An engaging explanation of the science behind Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling Blink

Gerd Gigerenzer is one of the researchers of behavioral intuition responsible for the science behind Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller Blink. Gladwell showed us how snap decisions often yield better results than careful analysis. Now, Gigerenzer explains why our intuition is such a powerful dec
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published July 5th 2007 by Viking Books (first published June 28th 2007)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Gut Feelings, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Gut Feelings

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,840 ratings  ·  174 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious
Alaeddin Hallak
Sep 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: psychology
It was great in the first few chapters. I learned some very interesting ideas (which I will summarize at the end of this review), but then it got too scientific and philosophical and I totally lost interest and goodwill once the author started attributing everything to so-called "evolution" and even started suggesting improvements to "shortcomings" in the creation of the human eye at some point.

Nevertheless, the following are my main takeaways from the book:

Recognition Heuristic: relying on wha
Mar 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started to read Gut Feeling when I was half way through Thinking, Fast and Slow. These two books were developed around the same theme: human intuition. While Thinking, Fast and Slow exposes the dark side of intuition, Gut Feeling reveals the bright side: how intuition can facilitate our decision making.

The notion of “rules of thumb” is the leitmotif of the book. It goes like this: we make decisions following unexplainable rules that engraved in our consciousness. These rules are usually extrem
Martha Love
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
GUT FEELINGS: THE INTELLIGENCE OF THE UNCONSCIOUS. I just enjoyed re-reading Gerd Gigerenzer's book "Gut Feelings". The reason I wanted to re-read it is to compare what Gigerenzer says about social instincts to what Matthew Lieberman has explored and written about in his recently published book "Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect". Lieberman seems to take up where Gigerenzer left off on the subject, fills in and expands further details of neurological studies (including his own) on the ...more
Jul 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
After hearing this book described as the "science behind Malcolm Gladwell's Blink," I thought that it might be inaccessible and filled with jargon. Instead, I found that Gigerenzer directs his entertaining and controversial book to the average reader.

His scientific study of intuition in decision-making is fascinating. Throughout the book he defends simple, unconscious thought processes (what we would call intuition), which are usually ignored in favor of complex formulas. For example, many scie
Jan 18, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
Basically, the theme of the book is that thinking in patterns of relations in domains of partial knowledge can be more effective than thinking sequentially through logical associations of all that is known. Toward the end of the book this message started feeling repetitive, so I felt that I was learning less as I read more. Condensed, it would make a great piece in Readers Digest.
Sep 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-2010
I just didn't find myself very compelled by this book. Unfortunately, the material covered in this book is covered by a lot of books these days, and the way this book does so is not very compelling. The writing itself was bland, and the book didn't necessarily delve into these things in a way that made you understand it better than many of the much better books covering the material.
Jeff Kelleher
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
We seldom have full information, and we seldom have enough time to deliberate. Pure reason, in other words, is impractical in a bustling world. But we must decide, every hour, matters that affect us. So we exercise our gut feelings.

What is intuition, and where do we get it? Its very nature makes it elusive. Gigerenzer's contribution is to try to answer these hard questions.

The archetype is the fielder chasing a fly ball. A logical solution would require an intricate calculation of speed, distanc
Steven Peterson
Jan 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is an intriguing work on human decision making. The argument is that evolution has given us an adaptive toolkit of decision making tools. Based on experience over eons, shortcuts for making decisions came about. And, accroding to the author, studies suggest that these can be more effective than statistical analysis. For instan ce, "Take the Best." In maing decisions, you simply accept the first choice that looks like it will work. That's it!

Well written and relatively short. Quite useful in
Aug 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Lots of interesting research about how our gut instinct is often as good predicting right answers or even better than some educated guesses. However one might read Haidt’s work on moral reasoning or Kinneman on decision making to get the same information. This book just isn’t as well formed or readable as the ones above. It has patches that are great, but lots that’s just hard. Still, lovely to be reassured that just because something isn’t double blind study verified doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
Mark Fallon
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
I think the author under-emphasized the importance of education, experience and knowledge in developing the "informed gut".
Dec 01, 2019 added it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
The quality of intuition lies in the intelligence of the unconscious; the ability to know without thinking which rule to rely on in which situation.

Many people would rather avoid making a decision, even if it means life or death. Penn. & NJ offer drivers choice- insurance policy with unrestricted right to sue & a cheaper one with suit reservations. The unrestricted is default in Penn, whereas the restricted one is default in NJ. 79% bought full coverage, whereas only 30% of the NJ drivers did.
Jun 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
With reservations, recommended.

Overall, Gut Feelings is a fascinating discussion of human social behavior by a well respected expert. Although Gigerenzer's unifying theme / central idea remains unproven, nevertheless his insights about social behavior, including interesting anecdotes and descriptions of research findings, is worthwhile and useful. It's amusing and ironic to notice that his all-or-nothing heuristic conclusion apparently does not follow the presented evidence and arguments.

Dec 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: brain
Chapters of particular interest:

- Chapter 7 on the recognition heuristic. Merely by recognizing the name of a foreign city or a consumer brand, we have some information about it: the city must have a lot of inhabitants; the brand must be fairly reliable. (I wonder how this might be applied to the recognition of moral "rules of thumb" discussed in subsequent chapters.)

- Chapter 10 on moral intuitions. He says we have an unconscious "moral grammar," but our rules can conflict with each other and
So, if you want to save yourself the time and expense of taking a Cognitive Science 101 course, this book is a pretty good solution. Gigerenzer offers up some theories on how human decision-making actually works (hint: it's not by drawing up a big list of pro's and con's and doing a weighted analysis), why we evolved to make decisions this way (VOMIT. instant -1 star.), and presents evidence that these innate methods of decison-making are often "better" than advanced statistical models.

The first
May 24, 2008 rated it liked it
In order to make sense of Gerd Gigerenzer's Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious you kind of have to stop making sense (to borrow from the Talking Heads) or at least let go of the idea that everything has to make sense. It is a very interesting book, and if you just let yourself go with it, highly readable.

Gigerenzer's basic principle is that many of our decisions are based on unconscious and instinctual heuristic processes and that these processes are often more efficient than stat
Catherine Kubiak
Some interesting perspectives on decision making relying on gut feelings and intuition however not the most enjoyable read.
Allysha Moulton
May 18, 2010 rated it liked it
This book definitely opened up my mind to how my mind actually works. This book was kind of like "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell, but instead of how you think, it's about how the brain works. I loved this book. It is so interesting and it makes you want to read more and more. I learned some things I had never heard of before, and it cleared up a few things I had questions on, but was never motivated enough to go check out or research. Knowing the trick to playing tic-tac-toe is never fun ...more
Jan 12, 2010 rated it liked it
This book was not exactly what I expected, but good nonetheless. It really was more of a scientific look vs. a spiritual (which I had been expecting.)

The author maps out individual examples and research to show us how we utilize our unconscious in everyday decisions. He does this in a pretty simple and interesting way.

What stood out to me, was how the author demonstrated that those who have average knowledge of a given subject often can accurately deduce things about that subject as well as, if
Andrew Skretvedt
Jun 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Gigerenzer is worthy of your attention. This book is lighter than another of his I recently read, "Calculated Risks," which I recommend more strenuously.

The essential takeaway which I was left with, in simple terms, when faced with a decision, your gut instincts are likely to be at least as good, and probably better than a complex and carefully weighed analysis.
The book discusses at length why this might be so, and the heuristics or mental rules-of-thumb involved.

I'd recommend the section discu
Oct 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Highly readable for such a scientific book. We live in a world where logics and rationality are treated as gods but this book proves that intution could work so much better, solving riddles, problems and anything with less efforts. Faster and more efficient.

I especially like the way Gigerenzer describes that people don't think and feel like rational computers by giving example of the half empty half full glass. Logically, the two are equals. But human beings don't work that way. Facing two glass
Aug 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Annotated study on the value of instinctive responses over rational ones

According to Freud and other intellectuals and philosophers, intuition is unsound and has no merit. Freud warns not to put any value on gut feelings. Instead, people should trust logic and reasoning. German psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer begs to differ. He claims that intuition often works far better than reason to solve problems and make decisions. Gigerenzer details numerous studies that repeatedly demonstrate intuition’s a
If the book had been shorter, it might have gained a fourth star - not because it's too long per se, but because there are just too many pages on which Gigerenzer keeps on sniping at Behavioural Economics, which he believes denies the value of heuristics and gut feelings. It is somewhat puzzling that a clearly very wise person is so exercised by a (mistaken) perception. Perhaps there are some blind believers in Behavioural Economics, but its main proponents - from Ariely to Kahneman, and from Th ...more
Scott Lerch
Aug 24, 2008 rated it liked it
This book has quite a few interesting anecdotes and studies that demonstrate how our subconscious mind is where most of our decisions are made, and actually does a good job most of the time with a few rules of thumb and some ignorance. Gigerenzer argues weighing the pros and cons carefully and methodically is time consuming and almost impossible in most day to day situations so most of the time humans should just go with their gut feeling. In most cases that will make people happiest. However, I ...more
Mar 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, psychology
This is the pop-science book behind pop-science books like "Blink". Its good, although the basic thesis is pretty simple and doesn't get elaborated on very much as the book progresses. The idea is that given limited information, its wiser to rely on heuristics and intuition than to try and rationally construct a solution. This isn't to say intuition is better than reason, only that its a different tool which is useful in a different set of circumstances. Some of this stuff was obvious, even to m ...more
Apr 13, 2013 rated it liked it
This book warns you from getting stuck in analysis paralysis mode and strongly advocates the necessity and urgency to take decisions based on your intuitive gut feelings given the limited information and time you have at your disposal.
Such decisions, the author argues , are generally as good as if not better than the decisions taken with tonnes of data and information.
A very interesting read, though at certain places it tends to be somewhat repetitive.
For key takeaways from this book visit
Jan 14, 2012 rated it liked it
This was an enjoyable read about what is being discovered about the logic of the unconscious. Simple heuristics allow us to navigate complex statistical problems better than chance - and even better than experts - in many situations. However, there are situations in which they do not work as well. Knowing the difference and adjusting appropriately is key. Similarly, structuring the environment to take advantage of those background processes can really simplify life and reduce error.
May 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
This pretty much sums the book up:

"...Gut feelings are in fact neither impeccable nor stupid. As I have argued, they take advantage of the evolved capacities of the brain and are based on rules of thumb that enable us to act fast and with astounding accuracy. The quality of intuition lies in the intelligence of the unconscious: the ability to know without thinking which role to rely on in which situation...there is no way around intuition; we could achieve little without it." (p228-229)
Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
I admit I am totally clueless on the subject. I would like to find out if I really should be following fuzzy feelings out of the gate, or if they should be filtered in some way. I've done both and nothing gets me anywhere. So far, it's educational, well-researched, and fun to read. I still wonder if it works...
Aug 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The intuition can be a better guide than our explicit reasoning, and that we really should try to heed it.

Also that a "fast and frugal" decision tree may be a much better practical tool than a comprehensive decision tree - and maybe that is what all that AI work on heuristics was groping towards?
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
downloadable? 1 25 Feb 02, 2008 12:12AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives
  • Complexity: A Guided Tour
  • Narrative Economics: How Stories Go Viral and Drive Major Economic Events
  • Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don't Make Sense
  • Sun in a Bottle: The Strange History of Fusion and the Science of Wishful Thinking
  • The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind
  • How Innovation Works: Serendipity, Energy and the Saving of Time
  • The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and Remembers
  • Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans
  • How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness
  • Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind
  • Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin To Munger
  • Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed
  • Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters: From Dating, Shopping, and Praying to Going to War and Becoming a Billionaire-- Two Evolutionary Psychologists Explain Why We Do What We Do
  • Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science
  • The Psychology of Money
  • How the Mind Works
See similar books…
Gerd Gigerenzer is a German psychologist who has studied the use of bounded rationality and heuristics in decision making, especially in medicine. A critic of the work of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, he argues that heuristics should not lead us to conceive of human thinking as riddled with irrational cognitive biases, but rather to conceive rationality as an adaptive tool that is not identica ...more

News & Interviews

Ashley Poston made her name with Once Upon a Con, a contemporary series set in the world of fandom, and her two-part space opera, Heart of...
32 likes · 4 comments