The best books to understand how we make decisions (and make better ones)

Who am I?

I had a long career as a management consultant, advising business leaders about their most important choices. One question never stopped bothering me: why do really, really great businesspeople sometimes make really, really bad decisions? After 25 years, I finally decided that this question was interesting enough that I wanted to become a professor in order to study it. So that’s what I do now – and I write about what I find.   


I wrote...

You're About to Make a Terrible Mistake: How Biases Distort Decision-Making and What You Can Do to Fight Them

By Olivier Sibony,

Book cover of You're About to Make a Terrible Mistake: How Biases Distort Decision-Making and What You Can Do to Fight Them

What is my book about?

We all make decisions all the time. It’s so natural that we hardly stop to think about it. Yet even the best business leaders make frequent, predictable errors. Indeed, for some types of business decisions, error is not the exception: it is the rule.

In You’re About to Make a Terrible Mistake! you’ll discover dozens of stories that illustrate the most common decision-making traps. And whether your organization is a fledgling nonprofit or a multinational corporation, you’ll find some detailed, practical advice on how to avoid these mistakes and make better decisions.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Thinking, Fast and Slow

Olivier Sibony Why did I love this book?

This book made me leave a career in consulting and become a professor. Kahneman not only won the Nobel prize in economics without being an economist, he also has a gift for making you feel you understand psychological research even if you're not a psychologist. Thinking, Fast and Slow, the book that made "bias" a term everyone recognizes, is unquestionably the first book anyone with an interest in behavioral science and decision-making should read, and perhaps the last one, too. I re-read it at least once a year and always find something I had not paid enough attention to.

By Daniel Kahneman,

Why should I read it?

38 authors picked Thinking, Fast and Slow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The phenomenal international bestseller - 2 million copies sold - that will change the way you make decisions

'A lifetime's worth of wisdom' Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics
'There have been many good books on human rationality and irrationality, but only one masterpiece. That masterpiece is Thinking, Fast and Slow' Financial Times

Why is there more chance we'll believe something if it's in a bold type face? Why are judges more likely to deny parole before lunch? Why do we assume a good-looking person will be more competent? The answer lies in the two ways we make choices: fast,…


Book cover of Nudge: The Final Edition

Olivier Sibony Why did I love this book?

After "bias," what is the second-most-popular behavioral science buzzword? Nudge, of course. Some think nudges are a brilliant invention; others claim they're a tool for cynical manipulation. Whether you are in one camp or in the other, the place to start is the book that made the case for "libertarian paternalism," now in a new, "final" edition. If you think you already know what nudges are, you may be surprised to find that "choice architecture," as Thaler and Sunstein call it, is a much more subtle art than you think.

By Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Nudge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*Once again a New York Times bestseller! First the original edition, and now the new Final Edition*

An essential new edition revised and updated from cover to cover of one of the most important books of the last two decades, by Nobel Prize winner Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

More than 2 million copies sold

Since the original publication of Nudge more than a decade ago, the title has entered the vocabulary of businesspeople, policy makers, engaged citizens, and consumers everywhere. The book has given rise to more than 400 "nudge units" in governments around the world and…


Book cover of How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

Olivier Sibony Why did I love this book?

Katy Milkman's 2021 book tackles the question that every self-help book since the invention of the genre has attempted to answer: how to (really, finally, durably) start doing what you want to do and stop doing what you don't. So, what is Milkman's secret weapon? Behavioral science, of course. In her view, whether a strategy for change works or not is not a matter of belief or personal experience – it is an empirical question to be tested by research. Personally, I think How to Change is the last self-help book I will ever need.

By Katy Milkman,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked How to Change as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Game-changing. Katy Milkman shows in this book that we can all be a super human' Angela Duckworth, bestselling author of Grit

How to Change is a powerful, groundbreaking blueprint to help you - and anyone you manage, teach or coach - to achieve personal and professional goals, from the master of human nature and behaviour change and Choiceology podcast host Professor Katy Milkman.

Award-winning Wharton Professor Katy Milkman has devoted her career to the study of behaviour change. An engineer by training, she approaches all challenges as problems to be solved and, with this mind-set, has drilled into the roadblocks…


Book cover of The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don't

Olivier Sibony Why did I love this book?

Even if you don't know anything about behavioral science, you know about confirmation bias, arguably the most insidious of our cognitive limitations. Simply put, people ignore or discount information that contradicts their beliefs, threatens their interests, or challenges their loyalties. Sure, we often spot this problem in others. But we also need to become aware of it – and to address it – in ourselves. In this book, Galef shows you, with practical, inspiring examples, how you can become a better, clearer, more rational thinker. This is the first book on thinking that I recommend to my students.

By Julia Galef,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Scout Mindset as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of best smart thinking book 2022 (Business Book Awards)
Guardian best books of 2021

'Original, thought-provoking and a joy to read' Tim Harford

'Highly recommended. It's not easy to become (more of) a scout, but it's hard not to be inspired by this book' Rutger Bregman

When it comes to what we believe, humans see what they want to see. In other words, we have what Julia Galef calls a 'soldier' mindset. From tribalism and wishful thinking, to rationalising in our personal lives and everything in between, we are driven to defend the ideas we most want to believe…


Book cover of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Olivier Sibony Why did I love this book?

Cialdini's classic has sometimes been described as a "manipulation textbook." Indeed, the persuasion techniques it presents (with a treasure trove of examples and fascinating stories) are astoundingly powerful. The first time I read it, I often thought: "I hope this book does not end up in the wrong hands." With over 5 million copies in print, however, that ship has sailed: anyone who has not read Influence is at risk of being manipulated by a cunning salesman who has. Just as importantly, anyone who reads it will find many ethical applications of the book's insights.

By Robert B. Cialdini,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked Influence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The foundational and wildly popular go-to resource for influence and persuasion-a renowned international bestseller, with over 5 million copies sold-now revised adding: new research, new insights, new examples, and online applications.

In the new edition of this highly acclaimed bestseller, Robert Cialdini-New York Times bestselling author of Pre-Suasion and the seminal expert in the fields of influence and persuasion-explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these insights ethically in business and everyday settings. Using memorable stories and relatable examples, Cialdini makes this crucially important subject surprisingly easy. With Cialdini as a guide, you don't have…


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The Squiggly Line Career: How Changing Professions Can Advance a Career in Unexpected Ways

By Angela Champ,

Book cover of The Squiggly Line Career: How Changing Professions Can Advance a Career in Unexpected Ways

Angela Champ Author Of The Squiggly Line Career: How Changing Professions Can Advance a Career in Unexpected Ways

New book alert!

Who am I?

Although I’ve worked in many professions and industries, a common theme in all my jobs is that I love helping people succeed in their careers. I’ve started or sponsored employee networks that focused on professional development, I’m a certified coach that focuses on propelling a client’s career, and I am a conference keynote speaker on the topics of careers and leadership. Everyone deserves to have a great career that makes them want to jump out of bed on Monday morning and that provides a good living and lifestyle. I love to make that happen!

Angela's book list on accelerating your career

What is my book about?

When we're children, we're asked what we want to be when we grow up. But what if there isn't just one career for us in our lifetime? What if we can have a squiggly line career that spans professions and industries?

This book will guide job seekers on the traits and tactics needed to change professions, and show hiring professionals how to find candidates with the skills to do the job!

The Squiggly Line Career: How Changing Professions Can Advance a Career in Unexpected Ways

By Angela Champ,

What is this book about?

When we are children, people ask us what we want to be when we grow up. The question elicits all sorts of dreams as a kid - "I want to be a ballerina" or "a firefighter" or "an astronaut." It becomes daunting as we grow up and start feeling pressured to make a choice that could affect the rest of our lives. What if we're not meant to follow just one path but, rather, pursue a squiggly line career that moves us across professions and industries? Filled with examples of real life squiggly line careers and interactive exercises, this book…


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5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in decision making, persuasion, and skepticism?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about decision making, persuasion, and skepticism.

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Skepticism Explore 13 books about skepticism