Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Psychology of blink

NYTimes' Claudia Dreifus interviews Gerd Gigerenzer, German social psychologist known "for his breakthrough studies on the nature of intuitive thinking."

Q: Do you think of yourself as intuitive or rational?

A: Both. In my scientific work, I have hunches. I can’t explain always why I think a certain path is the right way, but I need to trust it and go ahead. I also have the ability to check these hunches and find out what they are about. That’s the science part. Now, in private life, I rely on instinct. For instance, when I first met my wife, I didn’t do computations. Nor did she.

Q: Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” is about a young man who doesn’t respond to his first best instinct, which is to avenge his father’s murder by killing his uncle. If Hamlet had listened to his gut, how would the play be different?

A: This is not a scientific kind of question. But the play would have been shorter and probably fewer people would have been killed.