Daniel Kahneman explains that there is such a thing as the affect heuristic,
where judgments and decisions are guided directly by feelings of liking and disliking, with little deliberation or reasoning.
The example he had just given was the chief investment officer of a large financial firm, who told Kahneman he had just invested tens of millions of dollars in the stock of Ford Motor Company. Why? He’d gone to an automobile show and been impressed by Ford cars. “Wo, good cars!” Yes but that’s not the relevant question. The relevant question is whether the stock is currently underpriced.
The cio did an affect heuristic thing – which is pretty funny, really, given his job. But the thing is, Kahneman explains, the relevant question is more work to answer correctly than the irrelevant one.
When the question is difficult and a skilled solution is not available, intuition still has a shot: an answer may come to mind quickly – but it is not an answer to the original question. The question that the executive faced (should I invest in Ford stock?) was difficult, but the answer to an easier and related question (do I like Ford cars?) came readily to his mind and determined his choice. This is the essence of intuitive heuristics: when faced with a difficult question, we often answer an easier one instead, usually without noticing the substitution.
Thinking, Fast and Slow p 12
I love that final half-sentence. I’m going to set it off by itself so that we can admire it in all its glory.
when faced with a difficult question, we often answer an easier one instead, usually without noticing the substitution.