≡ Menu

Daniel Kahneman Quotes

Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman quotes: the famous psychologist sounds off.

“Luck plays a large role in every story of success; it is almost always easy to identify a small change in the story that would have turned a remarkable achievement into a mediocre outcome.”

“Success equals talent plus luck; great success equals a little more talent plus a lot of luck.”

“Leaders who have been lucky are never punished for having taken too much risk. Instead, they are believed to have had the flair and foresight to anticipate success, and the sensible people who doubted them are seen in hindsight as mediocre, timid, and weak.”

“Some achieve a reputation for great successes when in fact all they have done is take chances that reasonable people wouldn’t take.”

“Optimism is normal, but some fortunate people are more optimistic than the rest of us. If you are genetically endowed with an optimistic bias, you hardly need to be told that you are a lucky person—you already feel fortunate.”

“An optimistic attitude is largely inherited, and it is part of a general disposition for well-being, which may also include a preference for seeing the bright side of everything. If you were allowed one wish for your child, seriously consider wishing him or her optimism. Optimists are normally cheerful and happy, and therefore popular; they are resilient in adapting to failures and hardships, their chances of clinical depression are reduced, their immune system is stronger, they take better care of their health, they feel healthier than others and are in fact likely to live longer.”

“The effects of high optimism on decision making are, at best, a mixed blessing, but the contribution of optimism to good implementation is certainly positive. The main benefit of optimism is resilience in the face of setbacks.”

“One of the major biases in risky decision making is optimism. Optimism is a source of high-risk thinking.”

“Courage is willingness to take the risk once you know the odds. Optimistic overconfidence means you are taking the risk because you don’t know the odds. It’s a big difference.”

“There are some conditions where you have to trust your intuition.”

“Optimistic people play a disproportionate role in shaping our lives. Their decisions make a difference; they are inventors, entrepreneurs, political and military leaders—not average people. They got to where they are by seeking challenges and taking risks.”

“You are more likely to learn something by finding surprises in your own behavior.”

“It’s a wonderful thing to be optimistic. It keeps you healthy and it keeps you resilient.”

“Acquisition of skills requires a regular environment, an adequate opportunity to practice, and rapid and unequivocal feedback about the correctness of thoughts and actions.”

“Intelligence is not only the ability to reason; it is also the ability to find relevant material in memory and to deploy attention when needed.”

“More intelligent individuals are more likely than others to have rich representations of most things.”

“Your beliefs should be constrained by the logic of probability.”

“True experts know the limits of their knowledge.”

“The confidence that individuals have in their beliefs depends mostly on the quality of the story they can tell about what they see, even if they see little.”

“If people are failing, they look inept. If people are succeeding, they look strong and good and competent. That’s the ‘halo effect.’ Your first impression of a thing sets up your subsequent beliefs.”

“If you care about being thought credible and intelligent, do not use complex language where simpler language will do.”

“Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it.”

“A general ‘law of least effort’ applies to cognitive as well as physical exertion. The law asserts that if there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will eventually gravitate to the least demanding course of action. In the economy of action, effort is a cost, and the acquisition of
skill is driven by the balance of benefits and costs. Laziness is built deep into our nature.”

“It is much easier to strive for perfection when you are never bored.”

“The effort invested in ‘getting it right’ should be commensurate with the importance of the decision.”

“Put your ideas in verse if you can; they will be more likely to be taken as truth.”

“Good stories provide a simple and coherent account of people’s actions and intentions.”

“Consumers have a hunger for a clear message about the determinants of success and failure in business, and they need stories that offer a sense of understanding, however illusory.”

“Every significant choice we make in life comes with some uncertainty.”

“We must allow for that uncertainty in our thinking.”

“Learn to recognize situations in which mistakes are likely and try harder to avoid significant mistakes when the stakes are high.”

“Jumping to conclusions is efficient if the conclusions are likely to be correct and the costs of an occasional mistake acceptable, and if the jump saves much time and effort. Jumping to conclusions is risky when the situation is unfamiliar, the stakes are high, and there is no time to collect more information.”

“It is easier to recognize other people’s mistakes than our own.”

“True intuitive expertise is learned from prolonged experience with good feedback on mistakes.”

“Thoughts of any aspect of life are more likely to be salient if a contrasting alternative is highly available.”

“Even in the absence of time pressure, maintaining a coherent train of thought requires discipline.”

“The experiencing self does not have a voice. The remembering self is sometimes wrong, but it is the one that keeps score and governs what we learn from living, and it is the one that makes decisions. What we learn from the past is to maximize the qualities of our future memories, not necessarily of our future experience. This is the tyranny of the remembering self.”

“Friends are sometimes a big help when they share your feelings. In the context of decisions, the friends who will serve you best are those who understand your feelings but are not overly impressed by them.”

“Merely reminding people of a time when they had power increases their apparent trust in their own intuition.”

“Why be concerned with gossip? Because it is much easier, as well as far more enjoyable, to identify and label the mistakes of others than to recognize our own.”

“We all have a need for the reassuring message that actions have appropriate consequences, and that success will reward wisdom and courage. Many business books are tailor-made to satisfy this need.”

“Risk does not exist ‘out there,’ independent of our minds and culture, waiting to be measured. Human beings have invented the concept of ‘risk’ to help them understand and cope with the dangers and uncertainties of life.”

“You just like winning and dislike losing—and you almost certainly dislike losing more than you like winning.”

“When you analyze happiness, it turns out that the way you spend your time is extremely important.”

“Every night for the next week, set aside 10 minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well. Writing about why the positive events in your life happened may seem awkward at first, but please stick with it for one week. It will get easier. The odds are that you will be less depressed, happier, and addicted to this exercise six months from now.”

“Happiness is determined by factors like your health, your family relationships and friendships, and above all by feeling that you are in control of how you spend your time.”

“Experienced happiness refers to your feelings, to how happy you are as you live your life. In contrast, the satisfaction of the remembering self refers to your feelings when you think about your life.”

“When you look at the books about well-being, you see one word: it’s happiness. People do not distinguish.”

“The easiest way to increase happiness is to control your use of time. Can you find more time to do the things you enjoy doing?”

“If there is time to reflect, slowing down is likely to be a good idea.”

“My interest in well-being evolved from my interest in decision-making—from raising the question of whether people know what they will want in the future and whether the things that people want for themselves will make them happy.”

“Except for some effects that I attribute mostly to age, my intuitive thinking is just as prone to overconfidence, extreme predictions, and the planning fallacy as it was before I made a study of these issues.”

“It’s nonsense to say money doesn’t buy happiness, but people exaggerate the extent to which more money can buy more happiness.”

“Money does not buy you happiness, but lack of money certainly buys you misery.”

“Most importantly, of course, we all care intensely for the narrative of our own life and very much want it to be a good story, with a decent hero.”

Related: Seth Godin quotes.

Cory Johnson: your momma’s neighbor’s side chick’s last Uber Eats delivery guy’s third-favorite blogger. Here’s how he makes millions of dollars blogging without being bothered.