Probability and choice
November 22, 2015 6:12 PM   Subscribe

I was reading a book on probability and decision making several years ago and it mentioned a rule of sorts that could be used when making a selection from a sample that would help you make an efficient decision that was likely to gave a good outcome.

I was reading a book on probability and decision making several years ago and it mentioned a rule of sorts that could be used when making a selection from a sample. For example, when shopping for a house look at x number of houses, determine the characteristics of the best one that you saw and when you come across one that has those same characterize, buy it and you will end up with something likely to be in the 90th percentile of houses that you could have purchased.

The book was written for laymen, so I am guessing the concept is an application of a much broader probability rule, but if anyone can help me track down the book or the rule, I would greatly appreciate it.
posted by 517 to Science & Nature (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
This sounds like a variant of the secretary problem.
posted by un petit cadeau at 6:15 PM on November 22, 2015 [14 favorites]


The Paradox of Choice, by Barry Schwartz?
posted by misterbrandt at 6:31 PM on November 22, 2015


Here is a video version of the secretary problem abstracted to one about toilets.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWib5olGbQ0

7 mins.
posted by axismundi at 9:33 PM on November 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Or Thinking Fast & Slow by Kahneman but he talks about a lot more aspects of decision making..
posted by Thisandthat at 12:16 AM on November 23, 2015


the book may have been simple heuristics that make us smart. there's an article on it here.

one heuristic used to choose a house is satisficing - you buy the first one that meets all your requirements. but there is another heuristic, which is similar, but, i believe, more powerful - where you find something you like, and then select the next one you find that is better. i thought that was well known, but for the life of me cannot find its name or a description right now.
posted by andrewcooke at 4:07 AM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


The secretary problem, as others have said, used to be called the "marriage problem". And the magic number you're looking for is 36.8%. (Although be careful with the books. I just skimmed over an NPR article for you that made an absolute hash of the math, not just simplifying for laypeople but clear that the author didn't understand any of the implications--for ex., if the best choice wasn't in the first 36.8% you don't end up with second best, you end up with the last person to interview regardless of where they fall on the scale, anywhere from second best to absolute worst.)
posted by anaelith at 5:07 AM on November 23, 2015


Just to piggyback on the previous answer, the NPR article I remembered reading was a review of the book The Grapes of Math by Alex Bellos. Maybe this is the book you read?
posted by El_Marto at 7:33 AM on November 23, 2015


« Older Help me find a very particular candle   |   Nursing Bra for large cup and band Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.