Prudent Decision Making in an Imprudent World
Better Decisions at Home and Work
by Patrick F. Gould, Ph.D.
July 2009, 191pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-37231-5
$75, £58, 66€, A103
eBook Available: 978-0-313-37232-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Did you hear the one about a highly accomplished person making a stupendously bad decision? From Napoleon’s disastrous idea to attack Russia in winter to the financial “experts” (and their customers) who precipitated the financial crisis of 2008-2009, history is filled with situations that have us confoundedly asking ourselves, “What on earth were they thinking?” Now there is a way for us to learn from their mistakes.

A practical guide to making better decisions in all aspects of life, based on extensive research and a wide range of historic and current examples.

Combining clearly communicated research-based principles, a wealth of practical advice, and dozens of historic and contemporary examples of decision making (good and bad), Patrick Gould’s Prudent Decision Making in an Imprudent World: Better Decisions at Home and Work gives readers a fresh new way to look at the way we make choices.

What makes Gould’s book both authoritative and compelling is its distinctive foundation—prospect theory—derived from Amos Tversky and Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman’s landmark research on “neuro-economic” decision making. Through the prism of prospect theory—which explains why people make conservative decisions in some instances and reckless decisions in others—Gould provides practical pathways to sound, timely judgments about relationships, family matters, careers, finances, and more. Time and again, throughout this concise but richly rewarding book, Gould demonstrates that understanding how and why people make choices is the first step toward making the best possible choices for ourselves.


  • Includes chapters on personal and business decision making, as well as financial decision-making
  • Provides dozens of features on historic events affected by bad decision making, such as the 1929 stock market crash, the Challenger disaster, and the implosion of Enron
Patrick F. Gould is a retired U. S. Marine Corps officer and combat veteran who was an educational researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the past ten years. His doctoral research focused on the practical applications of critical decision making. Gould has been interviewed by ABC News as a combat leadership subject-matter expert and has written for numerous educational, national newspaper, and military publications. He is the founder of Major Decision Consulting, LLC, in Middleton, WI.


"Gould is a retired US Marine officer and former educational researcher at the U. of Wisconsin, and he employs historical examples, researchbased principles and practical advice to help general readers identify and avoid bad decision-making skills. The author uses examples such as Napoleon’s winter attack on Russia and the 1929 stock market crash to explain how qualities such as humility, self-discipline and critical analysis are instrumental to effective decision-making skills. Each chapter defines prudent decision-making skills in such specific realms as education, security and creativity."—Reference & Research Book News, November 1, 2009

"Prudent Decision Making reads more like thoughtful and critical analysis of decision-making than it does a guidebook or manua . . . While the book posits many conclusions that are already well established in the field of behavioral theory, the applications the author provides give life to the raw philosophy. Gould provides a chance for any decision-maker to reach better conclusions on a consistent basis." —Advisor Perspectives, December 1, 2009

"Our choices define us, make us who we are. The ones we take. The ones we avoid. The great Yankee catcher Yogi Berra, says, 'When you come to a fork in the road, take it.' But which one? Gould has the roadmap, your guide down the road less traveled, doing the right thing, the road to achieving your true potential, to discovering who you really are, why you're here. 'Do not go where the path may lead,' says Emerson, 'Go instead where there is no path ... and leave a trail.' "—Paul B Farrell, JD, PhD
columnist, DowJones/MarketWatch
author, The Lazy Person's Guide to Investing, The Winning Portfolio, The Millionaire Code, Mutual Funds on the Net, The Millionaire Meditation, and Expert Investing on the Net
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