Feeling Smart

Why Our Emotions Are More Rational Than We Think

by Eyal Winter

Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9781610394901
  • 9781610394918
Distinguished authors like Daniel Kahneman, Dan Ariely, and Nassim Nicholas Taleb have written much about the flaws in the human brain when it comes time to make a decision. Our intuitions and passions frequently fail us, leading to outcomes we don't want.

In this book, Eyal Winter, Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for the Study of Rationality at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, wonders: why? If our emotions are so destructive and unreliable, why has evolution left us with them? The answer is that, even though they may not behave in a purely logical manner, our emotions frequently lead us to better, safer, more optimal outcomes.

In fact, as Winter discovers, there is often logic in emotion, and emotion in logic. For instance, many mutually beneficial commitments—such as marriage, or being a member of a team—are only possible when underscored by emotion rather than deliberate thought. The difference between pleasurable music and bad noise is mathematically precise; yet it is also the result of evolution. And our inherent overconfidence—the mathematically impossible fact that most people see themselves as above average—affords us advantages in competing for things we benefit from, like food and money and romance. Other subjects illuminated in the book include the rationality of seemingly illogical feelings like trust, anger, shame, ego, and generosity.

Already a bestseller in Israel, Feeling Smart brings together game theory, evolution, and behavioral science to produce a surprising and very persuasive defense of how we think, even when we don't.

  • PublicAffairs; December 2014
  • ISBN: 9781610394918
  • Read online, or download in secure ePub format
  • Title: Feeling Smart
  • Author: Eyal Winter
  • Imprint: PublicAffairs
Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9781610394901
  • 9781610394918

In The Press

“Emotions and rationality are often thought of as polar opposites. But Eyal Winter—a leading game theorist and economist—shows compellingly that emotions can actually promote rational behavior. His book makes fascinating reading.”—Eric Maskin, Nobel Laureate in Economics

“It is a pleasure to follow Eyal Winter as he explores the deep logic of illogical emotions and helps us to see the rationality of irrational behavior.”—Roger Myerson, Nobel Laureate in Economics

“Much like Sigmund Freud, Eyal Winter knows that understanding human behavior demands listening and observing rather than labeling and categorizing. But here's what Freud didn't know: that framing his findings in the rigorous language of economic theory would be so illuminating, so surprising, and so exciting.”—Robert Lucas, Nobel Laureate in Economics

“We are used to thinking that emotions such as anger, love, insult, and so forth are irrational. In his new book, Eyal Winter explains why these emotions are actually very rational, fulfilling important functions that usually advance the most vital interests of each of us. This is an important, enjoyable, and convincing book.”—Robert J. Aumann, Nobel Laureate in Economics