Chapter 1 Summery

 

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            Chapter 1 is essentially an introduction for the rest of the book.  It covers a wide range of background material relating to decision making.  It also spells out a sort of mission goal of the book; that this text is deigned to help people with make there own decisions better, and not to influence the any sort of political or philosophical views.
The author begins with an explanation of how our decision making ability began in an evolutionary context.  It also says that is in not only a natural ability but a skill with we can improve on in time.  Our decision making ability is also compromised by different bias the particular decision may offer, such a fear of death or loss.
After that they define what ‘thinking’ is in this text.  In this case they say that it is a creation of a mental representation of what is not in our immediate environment.  In other words imagining some thing we cannot see at the time.  It also explains two mode of thinking; automatic thought and controlled thought.  Automatic thought occurs when the consciousness in minimally involved in the thought such as driving a car or making a split second chess decisions.  In this case the thought is so quick and has been done with such frequency that is becomes automatic.  Controlled thought on the other hand is described as “what if thinking”.   Where the person stops and purposefully imagines a scenario of contemplates the benefits and down falls of a decision.
Next the author provides some back ground of cognitive psychology, and the computational model of the brain.  The computational model is using a computer as an analogy for describing the brain and how the senses become memory.  The computational model describes 3 different memory stores; signal memory, working memory and long term memory. 
The author also describes the holes in the theories of psycho-analysis and behaviorism so that the reader understands the context of cognitive psychology.  Psycho-analysis explained peoples actions as driven by unconscious and or sexual motives.  It fails to explain Nazi Germany; how it happened with out all Nazis being victimized during, or having abnormal childhoods.  Behaviorism was also a prominent school of thought before cognitive.  It explained human and animal behavior through associations, and paired stimulus to response.  It pitfall was explaining the complexities of language.
After a brief history of Psychology, the author discusses rationally and why our choices are of aren’t.  There are 2 themes that underlay this particular section and they are expected utility and working memory.  Expected utility theory is also explained here.  A mathematical formula using probability and the expected out come of a decision to mathematically explain the rational decision making process,  although our decision are often not rational because of the limited space in our working memory.