And A Fast And Slow Mind

 Metaphorically describing a multifaceted process of decision making.

Many years ago it was proposed that a person who is “right-brained” is said to be more intuitive, creative, emotional, and subjective. A person who is “left-brained” is thought to be more logical, analytical, and objective. Today this may be helpful in thinking metaphorically about decision making.

In his book Thinking Fast and Slow, 2011, Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahnemanmakes it easier to talk about thinking and believing in decision making because he divides the process into System 1, Fast and System 2, Slow. This resembles right-brain thinking and left-brain thinking. This blog is an attempt to show how this multifaceted way of thinking about thinking is helpful in understanding the way we make decisions.

System 1 is the automatic, feelings system (intuition). System 2 is the effortful, attentive system (rational). These two systems don’t actually exist in the brain or anywhere else They are metaphors: System 1 representing one way of thinking; System 2 representing another way of thinking.

System 2 is who we think we are. However, most of what we think and do originates in System 1, but System 2 takes over when things get difficult, and normally has the last word. But most of our decisions are not made normally. How each individual thinks and decides is a whole new unpredictable ball game of deciding. Recognizing the interplay of  two types of thinking, intuitive and rational, should be helpful in understanding this complicated process of thinking, believing, judging and deciding.

However, understanding this complicated process requires more than just knowing System 1 (fast, automatic, intuitive) and System 2 (slow, effortful, rational). Both systems are subject to cognitive biases. And most of us don’t spend time thinking about our biases. Our metaphoric process for deciding is guided by two imperfect systems. Understanding this requires also knowing cognitive biases. This has been my current blog theme. Recent and future blogs feature the role of credulity and cognitive biases in personal and political decision making. How do we get better? What Kahneman suggests is to get better acquainted with our cognitive biases. This is my objective for future blogs.

Daniel Kahneman:  So this is my aim for watercooler conversations: improve the ability  to identify and understand errors of judgment and choice, in others and eventually in ourselves, by providing a richer or more precise language to discuss them.




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