IELTS Reading CODE26

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IELTS Reading CODE 26 READING PASSAGE 1 You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13, which are based on Reading Passage 1 below. Why Risks can go wrong Human intuition is a bad guide to handling risk A. People make terrible decisions about the future. The evidence is all around, from their investments in the stock markets to the way they run their businesses. In fact, people are consistently bad at dealing with uncertainty, underestimating some kinds of risk and overestimating others. Surely there must be a better way than using intuition? B. In the 1960s a young American research psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, became interested in people's inability to make logical decisions. That launched him on a career to show just how irrationally people behave in practice. When Kahneman and his colleagues first started work, the idea of applying psychological insights to economics and business decisions was seen as rather bizarre. But in the past decade the fields of behavioural finance and behavioural economics have blossomed, and in 2002 Kahneman shared a Nobel prize in economics for his work. Today he is in demand by business organizations and international banking companies. But, he says, there are plenty of institutions that still fail to understand the roots of their poor decisions. He claims that, far from being random, these mistakes are systematic and predictable. C. One common cause of problems in decision-making is over-optimism. Ask most people about the future, and they will see too much blue sky ahead, even if past experience suggests otherwise. Surveys have shown that people's forecasts of future stock market movements are far more optimistic than past long-term returns would justify. The same goes for their hopes of ever-rising prices for their homes or doing well in games of chance. Such optimism can be useful for managers 1

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IELTS Reading CODE 26 or sportsmen, and sometimes turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy. But most of the time it results in wasted effort and dashed hopes. Kahneman's work points to three types of over-confidence. First, people tend to exaggerate their own skill and prowess; in polls, far fewer than half the respondents admit to having below-average skills in, say, driving. Second, they overestimate the amount of control they have over the future, forgetting about luck and chalking up success solely to skill. And third, in competitive pursuits such as dealing on shares, they forget that they have to judge their skills against those of the competition. D. Another source of wrong decisions is related to the decisive effect of the initial meeting, particularly in negotiations over money. This is referred to as the 'anchor effect'. Once a figure has been mentioned, it takes a strange hold over the human mind. The asking price quoted in a house sale, for example, tends to become accepted by all parties as the 'anchor' around which negotiations take place. Much the same goes for salary negotiations or mergers and acquisitions. If nobody has much information to go on, a figure can provide comfort - even though it may lead to a terrible mistake. E. In addition, mistakes may arise due to stubbornness. No one likes to abandon a cherished belief, and the earlier a decision has been taken, the harder it is to abandon it. Drug companies must decide early to cancel a failing research project to avoid wasting money, but may find it difficult to admit they have made a mistake. In the same way, analysts may have become wedded early to a single explanation that coloured their perception. A fresh eye always helps. F. People also tend to put a lot of emphasis on things they have seen and experienced themselves, which may not be the best guide to decision-making. For example, somebody may buy an overvalued share because a relative has made thousands on it, only to get his fingers burned. In finance, too much emphasis on information close at hand helps to explain the tendency by most investors to invest only within the country they live in. Even though they know that diversification is good for their portfolio, a large majority of both Americans and Europeans invest far too heavily in the shares of their home countries. They would be much better off spreading their risks more widely. G. More information is helpful in making any decision but, says Kahneman, people spend proportionally too much time on small decisions and not enough on big ones. They need to adjust the balance. During the boom years, some companies put as much effort into planning their office party as into considering strategic mergers. H. Finally, crying over spilled milk is not just a waste of time; it also often colours people's perceptions of the future. Some stock market investors trade far too frequently because they are chasing the returns on shares they wish they had bought earlier. 2

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IELTS Reading CODE 26 I. Kahneman reckons that some types of businesses are much better than others at dealing with risk. Pharmaceutical companies, which are accustomed to many failures and a few big successes in their drug-discovery programmes, are fairly rational about their risk-taking. But banks, he says, have a long way to go. They may take big risks on a few huge loans, but are extremely cautious about their much more numerous loans to small businesses, many of which may be less risky than the big ones. And the research has implications for governments too. They face a whole range of sometimes conflicting political pressures, which means they are even more likely to take irrational decisions. Questions 1 – 6 Reading Passage 1 has nine paragraphs A-I. Choose the correct heading for Paragraphs B and D-H from the list of headings below. Write the correct number (i-xi) in boxes 1-6 on your answer sheet. List of Headings i Not identifying the correct priorities ii A solution for the long term iii The difficulty of changing your mind iv Why looking back is unhelpful v Strengthening inner resources vi A successful approach to the study of decision – making vii The danger of trusting a global market viii Reluctance to go beyond the familiar ix The power of the first number x The need for more effective risk assessment xi Underestimating the difficulties ahead 1. Paragraph B 2. Paragraph D 3. Paragraph E 4. Paragraph F 5. Paragraph G 6. Paragraph H 3

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IELTS Reading CODE 26 Questions 7 – 10 Choose the correct letter, A – D and write them in boxes 7 – 10 on your answer sheet. 7. People initially found Kahneman’s work unusual because he A. Saw mistakes as following predictable patterns. B. Was unaware of behavioural approaches. C. Dealt with irrational types of practice. D. Applied psychology to finance and economics 8. The writer mentions house – owners’ attitudes towards the value of their homes to illustrate that A. Past failures may destroy an optimistic attitude. B. People tend to exaggerate their chances of success. C. Optimism may be justified in certain circumstances. D. People are influenced by the success of others 9. Stubbornness and inflexibility can cause problems when people A. Think their financial difficulties are just due to bad luck. B. Avoid seeking advice from experts and analysts C. Refuse to invest in the early stages of a project. D. Are unwilling to give up unsuccessful activities of beliefs 10. Why do many Americans and Europeans fail to spread their financial risks when investing? A. They feel safer dealing in a context which is close to home. B. They do not understand the benefits of diversification. C. They are over influenced by the successes of their relatives. D. They do not have sufficient knowledge of one another’s countries 4

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IELTS Reading CODE 26 Questions 11 – 13 Answer the questions. Use NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer. Which two occupations may benefit from being over – optimistic? 11. ____________________________________________________ Which practical skill are many people over – confident about? 12. ____________________________________________________ Which type of business has a generally good attitude to dealing with uncertainty? 13. ____________________________________________________ 5

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IELTS Reading CODE 26 READING PASSAGE 2 You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 14 – 26, which are based on Reading Passage 2 below. Why are so few tigers man – eaters? A. As you leave the Bandhavgarh National Park in central India, there is a notice which shows a huge, placid tiger. The notice says, ‘You may not have seen me, but I have seen you.’ There are more than a billion people In India and Indian tigers probably see humans every single day of their lives. Tigers can and do kill almost everything they meet in the jungle, they will kill even attack elephants and rhino. Surely, then, it is a little strange that attacks on humans are not more frequent. B. Some people might argue that these attacks were in fact common in the past. British writers of adventure stories, such as Jim Corbett, gave the impression that village life in India in the early years of the twentieth century involved a stage of constant siege by man-eating tigers. But they may have overstated the terror spread by tigers. There were also far more tigers around in those days (probably 60.000 in the subcontinent compared to just 3000 today). So in proportion, attacks appear to have been as rare then as they are today. C. It is widely assumed that the constraint is fear; but what exactly are tigers afraid of? Can they really know that we may be even better armed than they are? Surely not. Has the species programmed the experiences of all tigers with humans its genes to be inherited as instinct? Perhaps. But I think the explanation may be more simple and, in a way, more intriguing. D. Since the growth of ethology in the 1950s. we have tried to understand animal behaviour from the animal’s point of view. Until the first elegant experiments by pioneers in the field such as Konrad Lorenz, naturalists wrote about animals as if they were slightly less intelligent humans. Jim Corbett’s breathless accounts of his duels with a an-eaters in truth tell us more about Jim Corbett than they do about the animals. The principle of ethology, on the other hand, requires us to attempt to 6

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IELTS Reading CODE 26 think in the same way as the animal we are studying thinks, and to observe every tiny detail of its behaviour without imposing our own human significances on its actions. E. I suspect that a tiger’s afraid of humans lies not in some preprogramed ancestral logic but in the way he actually perceives us visually. If you think like a tiger, a human in a car might appear just to be a part of the car, and because tigers don’t eat cars the human is safe-unless the car is menacing the tiger or its cubs, in which case a brave or enraged tiger may charge. A human on foot is a different sort of puzzle. Imagine a tiger sees a man who is 1.8m tall. A tiger is less than 1m tall but they may be up to 3m long from head to tail. So when a tiger sees the man face on, it might not be unreasonable for him to assume that the man is 6m long. If he meet a deer of this size, he might attack the animal by leaping on its back, but when he looks behind the mind he can’t see a back. From the front the man is huge, but looked at from the side he all but disappears. This must be very disconcerting. A hunter has to be confident that it can tackle its prey, and no one is confident when they are disconcerted. This is especially true of a solitary hunter such as the tiger and may explain why lions-particularly young lionesses who tend to encourage one another to take risks are more dangerous than tigers. F. If the theory that a tiger is disconcerted to find that a standing human is both very big and yet somehow invisible is correct, the opposite should be true of a squatting human. A squatting human is half he size and presents twice the spread of back, and more closely resembles a medium-sized deer. If tigers were simply frightened of all humans, then a squatting person would be no more attractive as a target than a standing one. This, however appears not to be the case. Many incidents of attacks on people involving villagers squatting or bending over to cut grass for fodder or building material. G. The fact that humans stand upright may therefore not just be something that distinguishes them from nearly all other species, but also a factor that helped them to survive in a dangerous and unpredictable environment. Note: Ethology = the branch of zoology that studies the behaviour of animals in their natural habitats 7

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IELTS Reading CODE 26 Questions 14 – 18 Reading Passage 2 has seven paragraphs labelled A – G Which paragraph contains the following information? Write the correct letter A – G in boxes 14 – 18 on your answer sheet. 14. A rejected explanation of why tiger attacks on humans are rare. 15. A reason why tiger attacks on human might be expect to happen more often than they do. 16. Examples of situations in which humans are more likely to be attacked by tigers. 17. A claim about the relative frequency of tiger attacks on humans. 18. An explanation of tiger behavior based on the principles of ethology. Questions 19 – 23 Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 2? In boxes 19 – 23 on your answer sheet, write TRUE if the statement is true FALSE if the statement is false NOT GIVEN if the information is not given in the passage 19 Tigers in the Bandhavgarh National Park are a protected species. 20 Some writers of fiction have exaggerated the danger of tigers to man. 21 The fear of humans may be passed down in a tiger’s genes. 22 Konrad Lorenz claimed that some animals are more intelligent than humans 23 Ethology involves applying principles of human behavior to animals 8

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IELTS Reading CODE 26 Questions 24 – 26 Choose the correct letter, A – D and write them in boxes 24 – 26 on your answer sheet. 24. Why do tigers rarely attack people in cars? A. They have learned that cars are not dangerous. B. They realize that people in cars cannot be harmed. C. They do not think people in cars are living creatures. D. They do not want to put their cubs at risk 25. The writer says that tigers rarely attack a man who is standing up because A. They are afraid of the man’s height. B. They are confused by the man’s shape. C. They are puzzled by the man’s lack of movement. D. They are unable to look at the man directly. 26. A human is more vulnerable to tiger attack when squatting because A. He may be unaware of the tiger’s approach. B. He cannot easily move his head to see behind him. C. His head becomes a better target for the tiger. D. His back appears longer in relation to his height. 9

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IELTS Reading CODE 26 READING PASSAGE 3 You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 28-40, which are based on Reading Passage 3 below. Keep taking the tablets The history of aspirin is a product of a rollercoaster ride through time, of accidental discoveries, intuitive reasoning and intense corporate rivalry. In the opening pages of Aspirin: The Remarkable Story of a Wonder Drug, Diarmuid Jeffreys describes this little white pill as ‘one of the most amazing creations in medical history, a drug so astonishingly versatile that it can relieve headache, ease your aching limbs, lower your temperature and treat some of the deadliest human diseases’. Its properties have been known for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptian physicians used extracts from the willow tree as an analgesic, or pain killer. Centuries later the Greek physician Hippocrates recommended the bark of the willow tree as a remedy for the pains of childbirth and as a fever reducer. But it wasn't until the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that salicylates the chemical found in the willow tree became the subject of serious scientific investigation. The race was on to identify the active ingredient and to replicate it synthetically. At the end of the nineteenth century a German company, Friedrich Bayer & Co. succeeded in creating a relatively safe and very effective chemical compound, acetylsalicylic acid, which was renamed aspirin. The late nineteenth century was a fertile period for experimentation, partly because of the hunger among scientists to answer some of the great scientific questions, but also because those questions were within their means to answer. One scientist in a laboratory with some chemicals and a test tube could make significant breakthroughs whereas today, in order to map the human genome for instance, one needs ‘an army of researchers, a bank of computers and millions and millions of dollars’. But an understanding of the nature of science and scientific inquiry is not enough on its own to explain how society innovates. In the nineteenth century, scientific advance was closely linked to the industrial 10