Prof Daniel Kahneman: Cognitive bias separates success from failure in crisis management


Dubai, UAE: Prof Daniel Kahneman, a psychology professor who won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences and one of the founders of behavioral economics, stressed that relying on intuition and unfounded expectations represents a cognitive bias that separates success from failure in crisis management.

The remarks were part of Prof Kahneman’s speech in a session titled ‘2021: Crafting Decisions in Times of Uncertainty’ as part of the World Government Summit (WGS) Dialogues that is running from March 9 to 10.

Interviewed by Becky Anderson, Managing Editor of CNN Abu Dhabi, Prof Kahneman said that forecasting the future is a key pillar of governments’ preparedness for crises. He added that the importance of governments adopting proactive planning methodologies has increased over the past few years, while stressing that the world is in dire need of robust systems that enhance preparedness for unexpected events and ensure efficiency in reading indicators that predict emergencies. He also clarified that anticipating and planning for events, emergencies, and crises is now higher on the agendas of governments than ever.

Highlighting the mistakes that some people make in the decision-making process, Prof Kahneman said: “We tend to rely on intuition and expectation more than logic. The mistakes we make are not random; there is a specific pattern of these mistakes called cognitive bias.”

He added: “The COVID-19 pandemic imposed a new reality on the world, and forced people, governments, and countries to adapt to circumstances that are very different from what we were used to before.”

Noting that the outbreak has affected the level of people’s confidence in the decisions of governments in some countries, he indicated that the best way to restore confidence lies in adopting a culture of prudence to make the right decisions in times of crisis because it guarantees people’s prosperity.

The WGS Dialogues, a virtual precursor to WGS 2021, takes place under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The event brings together senior government officials, experts, high-level representatives of global organizations, and business leaders from around the world to discuss the most prominent new global trends, and share visions and ideas with the aim of enhancing the readiness of governments to face future challenges.