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Mar 12 2006

SXSWi 2006: Dan Gilbert - How To Do Exactly the Right Thing at All Possible Times

Dan’s presentation was very engaging, despite that fact that I couldn’t make any direct connection to his talk and interactive design or development. Still, his conclusions about the human decision making process was very enlightening.

The premise of his talk was that in order to ‘do exactly the right thing at all possible times’ we need to compare the Real World Cost (or Expected Happiness) to the Odds of Gain times the Value of that Gain. However, we as humans will never be able to do this accurately because we are bad judges of odds, and even worse judges of value.

A little theoretical, but Dan gave some very interesting real-world examples of his research which brought this into light. I’m not going to go over his examples, but I would encourage you to listen to the podcast to hear some of his studies. They are quite fascinating, and give a frightening glimpse into the irrational decision process we as humans have.

In the end, his conclusions were to base your important decisions based on more concrete, thought out, equation-like processes, not based on your basic instinct. Studies show that that our instincts in decision making are often incorrectly affected by surrounding circumstances. As someone who often relies on my instincts, it’s a slightly disturbing concept. One that I think will help improve the way I make high-level decisions. Unless that’s the wrong decision.