Notes on The Decisive Moment : How the Brain Makes Up Its Mind

BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week is interesting: Decisive Moment, The: How the Brain Makes Up Its Mind is how people make decisions. The programme which is available seven days after it is broadcast on the site has readings all week from the book. The book shares some ground with Blink! which I'd blogged about a couple of years ago, except this has a broader theme about how emotional response plays a part in decision making.


Why intelligent people fail?

If children grew up according to early indications, we should have nothing but geniuses. --- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Sternberg in his book argues that the traditional notion of intelligence should be redefined to include successes. He lists some of the reasons why people who are generally thought of as intelligent fail:


Balanced thinking

Recently a colleague gave me an article to read from a glossy management journal, the sort of journal I wouldn't normally read. The opening was promising, it talked about how many MBA students were business graduates. In the past students would have come from industry or they were graduates. It implied that this would make them worse leaders as there would be less depth of experience. The solution apparently lies in literature, if you know where to look. It ended up being more of an advert for a book. Not that leaders and philosophers through the ages have not faced the same problems. Something is getting lost here in the tradition of education, academia, I was taught once was often learning for learning's sake. Higher education can be as much about the learning environment than the course you’re on, and learning how to lead no more lies in a book than it does in the rest of the world. Don't get me wrong, I do think you can learn things from literature, but looking to a play for a leadership to make a choice would first mean you have to choose the right play.


People, ritual and wellbeing

Occasionally I read a book that changes my point of view, one of the reasons that I think it’s important to read. One book that did this was Life of Pi, I read this a few years ago now, just after it won the Man Booker Prize. The book advertises that it will make you believe in God. Well as not believing at the time I thought it might be an interesting read, although it didn’t get me to believe in God, it did change my perception. The book quite brilliantly tests why we might believe.


Expectation and reward

Recently I've been thinking about expectation. I remember working with some management consultants once and their favourite turn of phrase was: You have to manage expectations.

They kept saying this. Practically it meant they needed to know what could go wrong, allowing them to manage the situation should it happen.

Recently on British terrestrial television there was a popular psychology program and they illustrated how the expectation of reward affects children; and indeed adults. Three groups of children were asked to paint; one group was left to paint, one after a brief period was given a surprise reward for their work and the third group: were told right from the start there would be a reward for painting.


Emotional Leakage

I've recently been reading Blink! Malcom Gladwell's book. I read it on holiday earlier this year, it's one of those books that makes you think. The writing is very anecdotal it makes you want to read it again.


Models of learning: teaching for the student

In educational psychology it has long been known that people learn in a very individual way. To be an effective teacher or mentor, especially for new subjects, it is better to understand how the pupil learns--- to have a model representing how the pupil learns. Ski teachers in Canada do this; they have a concept of Student Centred Teaching. The model is quite simple and is works with most people that learn to ski. Pupils will fall, when learning into one of the categories:

Learns by watching. A good listener, prefers to be last in a group.
Practical and functional. Explainations have little meaning, learns by doing.
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