From the Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman’s book, “Thinking Fast and Slow”, the author brings across multiple interesting observations based on his research in the early days. The book talks about how the average human has two distinct modes of thought, classified by system 1 and system 2. In short, the book builds upon its case on how we as humans often place too much trust on the human judgment, often leading to a biased view of things. In this article, we will take a look at why we should slow down our thinking.
The Two Modes of Thinking: System 1 and 2
System 1 is quicker to fire out answers and is emotional, stereotypical, and subconscious in nature. For example, when we are quick to make a stereotypical judgment or if we are choosing to speed down an empty road, that is system 1 being processed through our brains.
System 2, on the other hand, is a thought process that is far more logical, conscious and slow to respond. You’ll realize that you’re thinking on system 2 just because of how aware you are when you’re doing it. For instance, when you have to concentrate on an important task at hand, trying to recollect a distant memory, and even when thinking of arguments to counter another statement.
Without picking a side, it is clear that we use a lot of system 1 in our lives and that we tend to make judgments that don’t quite make sense because of that. Take for example going for a surgery that is 0% as opposed to 10%. We would view that as a relatively huge shift as our mind compares a situation with absolutely no certainty as opposed to one with a glimmer of hope. But Once we compare 75% to 85%, that increase doesn’t seem like much.
Now that we know this, it is important to be aware of how this affects us in our daily lives. Most marketing around the world is being done to illicit a response from system 1 of our brains. This is something that we do not want to make a habit of because it doesn’t bode well for us. The key here, of course, is to be able to think using system 2 on a regular basis.
How this is accomplished is by constantly questioning the hypothesis that you have raised in your head. Approach your observations and problems systematically and always with a level head. The problem with the world now is that our feelings are too easily attached to most decisions that we make such that everything is slightly biased in nature. The one way to get around this is to actually be conscious of yourself thinking when going through problems or taking in information. This allows us to slow our thinking down and actually contemplate more deeply instead of simply allowing our brains to provide a simpler solution.
In conclusion, it is always good to be curious about the things around us. Though we can never completely eradicate system 1 thoughts in our brain processes, it is good to make an active effort to switch to system 2 from time to time. Over time, we’ll be able to cultivate the habit of switching to a system 2 thought process at will, and this will greatly help in our critical thinking.