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Reading List: Feeling Smart

It’s time to rethink our understanding of emotions, contends Eyal Winter, director of the Center for the Study of Rationality at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Over the past two decades, research in brain sciences, behavioral economics and game theory has yielded novel insights into how our brains process emotions. In Feeling Smart, Winter points out that our emotional and intellectual mechanisms work together and sustain each other. “In many cases, a decision based on emotion or intuition may be much more efficient—and indeed better—than a decision arrived at after… rigorous analysis of all possible outcomes,” he writes.

So how do our emotions affect our decision-making? What is their role in social situations? How did we become both rational and emotional creatures? These are some of the questions that Winter addresses. Although he’s a game theorist, Winter doesn’t offer much in the way of a plan for implementing the information he presents to improve decisions or better handle emotionally charged situations. While that’s regrettable, it’s not reason enough to pass up this insightful and intriguing book.

by Eyal Winter

December 
PublicAffairs; $26.99

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