Annie Duke on How to Decide, Part 11

In her book, How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices, Annie Duke discusses how to train our brains to combat our own bias and help ourselves make more confident and better decisions.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 9, “Decision Hygiene”

In this chapter, Annie Duke discusses the techniques that can help us make effective decisions without “contaminated” beliefs. She offers the following recommendations:

  • “Two Roads Diverged”:
    • One of the best ways to improve the quality of our beliefs is to get other people’s perspectives. The divergence of opinions or views can help expose us to corrective or previously unknown information that we can use to make a better decision.
  • Elicit Uninfected Feedback:
    • When eliciting feedback, our opinions can influence the feedback if we disclose our opinions before getting the input.
    • When we keep our opinions to ourselves when we elicit feedback, it is more likely that the input is more in line with what the person actually thinks.
    • The act of disclosing the known result can also affect the quality of feedback. To get high-quality feedback, it is crucial to put the other person as closely as possible into the same state of knowledge that we were in when we made our decision.
    • The “Framing Effect” is a cognitive bias in which the way that information is present influences how the listener makes decisions about the data.
  • Quarantine Opinions in Group Setting:
    • Soliciting initial opinions independently before sharing them with a group is one way to achieve effective decision-making in a group setting.
    • Due to the “Halo Effect,” opinions from high-status members of the group can be unhealthfully contagious to affect group decision-making.
    • Anonymizing the initial feedback collection can help combat the potential bias from the halo effect.
  • Spin Doctrine:
    • The quality of feedback that we get is limited by the quality of the information we put into the process. Since our narratives naturally live in the inside view, the best way to combat the information quality issue is to get the outside perspectives whenever possible.