MicroSummary: According to the book, understanding how these two ways of thinking work can help us make right personal and professional decisions. The author reveals where we should or should not rely on our intuition and how we can benefit from slow or fast thoughts. He shows us how our choices are made and how we can make decisions more consciously.
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Why should you read Thinking Fast and Slow? Because you are a psychologist. Or because you are not. Because you are so intrigued by the irrational of the rational human being’s minds. Or, because you just think that you already know everything about it.
Find below the book summary and a selection of most relevant nuggets (visual quotes from books).
HUMAN IRRATIONALITY / THINKING FAST AND SLOW'Nobody, not even experts, can escape from this trap.' Daniel Kahneman Click To Tweet
“Thinking Fast and Slow Summary”
Curious, judgmental, ignorant, analyst, apathetic. Thinking Fast and Slow will grab your attention, starting with very the first page.
GetNugget outlines the theory – physicians have a broad set of labels which provide service to the people. Treating diseases covers various aspects such as – identifying symptoms, possible causes, remedies, etc.
After all, everything requires detailed analysis and diagnose in order to conduct a successful process. Moreover, to put yourself in a position where you can understand how particular individuals pass judgments is a challenge.
The Two Systems That Control Our Mental Activities
Our mental activities are controlled by two different systems – the intuitive (system 1) and the rational (system 2).
The intuitive system is fast and produces almost instantaneous responses. The second system is programmed to think, analyze, evaluate and then respond.
It is normal to believe that our decisions are directed by the rational system. But the truth is that the intuitive system, which is virtually involuntary, is the basis for most of our choices, even those we make using the rational system.
System 1 is involuntary thinking, which draws conclusions using relevant knowledge. For example, when you see 3×3, you automatically think of the correct answer.
You have these automatic responses several times a day, and most of the time you are not even aware that they are results of System 1 working on your thoughts.
However much you can control if you want, some activities work automatically thanks to system 1, such as blinking or walking.
System 2 needs your full attention to complete the task. Usually, when you do something that is not an automatic or reflexive reaction, System 2 acts. For example, if you are looking for a friend in a crowd or singing a song.
How Both Systems Affect Our Decisions
In several situations, the systems work together, when you are paying extra attention while driving at night for example, or when you strive to be respectful even while being nervous.
You are not aware, but your mind is working with both systems.
And in reality, when you perform any mental activity, it is very difficult to find out whether System 1 or System 2 is in action.
Remember this: system 1 runs on autopilot all the time, and system 2 needs to be called in to act.
System 1 gives you signals (impressions, feelings, intuitions) based on the ideas and beliefs formulated by the system 2. When system 1 can’t solve a problem, it calls system 2 to help.
Why is it important to know the difference between systems? System 1 can jump to conclusions and can make mistakes in many situations.
Calm your thoughts with System 2 and you will not only increase the likelihood of thinking more accurately and appropriately but will also think more efficiently.
For example, when you only use System 1 when looking for a relative at the airport, you look over all the people crossing your path, looking for a familiar face.
But if you use System 2, you can consciously filter those people who have black hair or glasses, since your relative does not have any of these characteristics. Also, the search is faster and more efficient.
Our Judgments Are Not Always Objective
Our mind is conditioned to be always optimistic even when there are no guarantees of good results. When we take a risky attitude, we can still demonstrate confidence because of our mistaken optimism.
It hinders our rational ability to calculate risks, learned from past mistakes or from the advice of experts in the field.
This feeling of illusory optimism prevents us from investing adequate time and planning. Optimism gives us the false impression that we have great control over the situation, but this may not be true.
While lack of objective thinking is dangerous in many situations, subjectivity helps us make good decisions and judge things correctly. Think of subjectivity as the element that keeps things balanced and puts them in perspective.
Notice how looking at this situation in a purely objective way can change our perspective: imagine that a person who earns $100 a week loses a $50 bill. The $50 represents a significant loss to her.
If a person who earns $30,000 per week loses the same $50, that loss would be relatively insignificant. It is essential to look at this situation in a subjective way since people’s points of reference are very different.
What you need to learn is that pure logic and facts should not always be used to reach conclusions or judgments. A person’s circumstances, mood, and other factors must also be considered.
“Thinking Fast and Slow” is a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of book. Its power questions the judgments sensations, and puts words into action.
Our Emotions Influence Our Decision-Making Process
Emotions play an essential role and impact our decision-making process.
Stereotypes, assumptions, and intuition are very common methods of decision making and show the impact these heuristic processes have on our choices.
System 1 thinking process calculates losses, gains, risks, and rewards, and inserts emotions into results.
Whether out of fear or regret or to get the impression that we are experts, our emotions influence our decisions in a meaningful way.
Emotions also impact our decisions and judgments in other ways. We can respond to different situations depending on how they are presented, even if this is unconscious.
That means that the circumstance or event that has the most emotional connection with us is usually the one that grabs our attention.
That is because the situation calls an associative memory through system 1.
Our mind processes what associative memory transmits and makes decisions and not all important facts can have the importance they should have.
For example, doctors may be more likely to opt for a procedure if they know that survival rate is 90% than if they know the mortality rate is 10%.
The association made in this case is survival, which is a positive result for the doctor.
That makes system 1 give more weight to positive decisions. We must force our system 2 to analyze the real facts for our decision making, rather than letting our emotions take over.
Only in this way can we overcome this influence in our choices.
Our Brain Seeks To Follow The Easier Path
When we are confronted with a situation, the typical human response is to choose the easiest way, that is, to evoke our system. 1.
Our brain tends to follow the path that represents the least resistance. So even when you are faced with a situation that looks different, your brain will accept the less confusing explanation.
Doubting something or just not believing in something is a task that requires a lot of effort for our brains. So system 1 tends to present the situation in the best possible way: in a way that you can believe.
In anxious individuals System, 2 is usually more functional. These people can think and analyze everything in excess and doubt every decision they make.
Still, these individuals also depend on system 1 in many situations, even if they are not aware of it.
That happens when they choose the easy way out. For example, when you have two different possibilities of routes to get to a hotel, you instinctively choose the most familiar route.
This urge to choose the easiest path may mean that our first instinct is naive. System 2 only comes into play when you are in a very confusing situation or when you realize that a belief is false.
It slows down your mental process and generates analytical thinking and logical reasoning. We need to encourage our minds to look beyond influences and patterns.
Observing the available facts, ignoring the feelings, impressions, and hunches.
Our Intuition Must Have A Solid Base
Not everything that happens makes sense, and we can not always provide a rational explanation for everything. But our mind tries to create a story to make each situation more plausible.
The fact is that for things to be easily understood, our minds create illusions. The information we believe may in fact actually be a fiction created by the mind.
This invented story can then become what we call “intuition.” As a result of this strong feeling, you could end up taking a stand in a certain situation, which is completely contrary to the real facts.
This misperception is a problem because when decisions or judgments are not based on real facts, they may be inappropriate or wrong.
Does this mean that feelings or intuitions are just fallacies? Not always.
Intuition exists, especially the so-called expert intuition.”
However, this feeling or intuition arises from a great experience in your area of expertise.
For example, a very experienced physician may intuitively “feel” that his patient has a particular problem. It may not be apparent to another doctor who is relatively new to the practice.
This type of intuition arises from the reflections of the mind, from the instinctive recognition of familiar patterns. Intuition can be trusted when it comes from a specialist in the field, who provides enough predictability to create such standards.
In the case of a physician, who’s seen many patients with similar symptoms and these experiments lay the groundwork for a seemingly intuitive diagnosis.
We must then be careful to depend only on our intuition when we have a solid basis for trusting our feelings.
For example, a mother’s intuition can be trusted because she knows her child very well. In contrast, an intuitive feeling that someone you know may suffer a car accident is probably just an irrational fear.
Our mind is a mystery, but that doesn’t stop you from investigating it.
Our Perception Is Molded By Our Experiences
We are made up of two distinctive beings – the experience we pass through (the being you experience) and the memories that we subsequently create and keep from the experience (the being that it remembers).
This duality causes cognitive illusions in which the actual experience we have may be obscured by the memory that is left behind.
Typically, you would remember a rendezvous dinner that ended badly as a horrible experience, even if the first hour preceding the terrible end was incredibly romantic.
A mediocre meal that was accompanied by a spectacular dessert can remain in your memory as a fantastic meal. One peculiarity of this heuristic is that the experience duration does not seem to make any difference.
The memory of the experience left behind can color the experience itself, in all cases.
In particular, the final portion of the experience is what is left in our mind, and that is what determines how we view that experience as a whole.
It is important to say that this conclusion influences how we make future decisions.
In fact, these future decisions are being made from our memories of our experiences and not our actual experiences.
Looking at this differently, we can see how this puts a powerful tool in our hands: memories.
By ensuring that we constantly create valuable memories of our experiences, we can encourage our minds to come out of this memory-over-experience illusion.
As you begin to become aware of your experiences as you go through them, you begin to consciously reflect on what you are doing.
By doing so, you create a set of memories that are more in sync with actual experience and are therefore more faithful representations of what happened. These memories now also form a good basis for future decision-making.
That is a critical factor to remember – balancing our memories (e.g., our version of what happened) and our experiences (e.g., what actually happened) is very important.
Choosing the right balance between these two is precisely what we need to do to improve our ability to make the right decisions and to subjugate the influences that can distort our decision-making capabilities.
Nothing is lost, the thinking-patterns are a consequence of the many habits we adopted over some time. Daniel Kahneman briefly discusses some essential subjects and separates creating value from “stealing” value.
But, let’s start from the top.
Who is Daniel Kahneman? If you don’t already know the answer to this question, allow me to give you some information about him.
The renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics.
Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. New York Times bestseller’s author.
And if that’s not enough, let’s take a look around and see how Thinking Fast and Slow was rated. It was selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011, and one of The Wall Street Journal‘s Best Nonfiction Books.
To be honest, first I’ve read Thinking Fast and Slow, and then I’ve checked the references. The greatest part was that, once I’ve started reading it, I’ve lost the track of time. And that’s a very good thing. This is what I call a good reading.
At the core of “Thinking Fast and Slow,” I found a great theme: human irrationality. Around this theme, you’ll find designed plenty of intriguing key-concepts like overconfidence, cognitive biases or peak-end rule.
What especially caught my attention was the analysis done on overconfidence. The main message regarding it is: nobody, not even experts, can escape from this trap. We are all prone to an exaggerated sense of how well we understand the world.
Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it”
While reading “Thinking Fast and Slow” you will be carried on three levels:
- “Cognitive biases” — meaning that unconscious errors of reasoning tend to distort our judgment of the world. This theory is revealed by the “anchoring effect” which describes our tendency to be influenced by irrelevant numbers that we happen to be exposed to.
- Decision making – do people “maximize utility”? Under uncertain conditions people tend to behave differently than the way economic models have traditionally assumed; So, in this context, you’ll deal with a new concept: “prospect theory.”
- “Hedonic psychology”: the science of happiness, its nature, and its causes.
Right from the start, the title will intrigue you. Voluntarily or not, I bet that you are looking for information regarding what this “fast, slow thinking” is all about?
Are you still confused about this systems’ game? You may also check “Linda’s problem experiment”. You’ll find here these controversial systems well explained in a very practical context.
We give you only a small clue regarding what this experiment is all about: a simple question is just a substitute for a complex one. Starting from this point, you’ll soon find yourself involved in an interesting debate.
Odd as it may seem, I am my remembering self”
This was the premise for the harrowing colonoscopies’ experiments.
Reading about it, your pupils will maybe significantly increase and you will feel a strange pain in your stomach. (Don’t worry. You can call this empathy. It usually happens to any human being).
After you finished reading about these, take a deep breath. And try to see the message behind the text. I’m sure that you realize now the metaphor of this example and how it is related to life.
While you’ll scroll through chapters, question after question will parade through your mind:
- Can we trust our intuitions?
- Can we tap into the benefits of slow thinking?
- How do we make choices both in business and personal lives?
And the answers will come one by one.
While you’ll reading “Thinking Fast and Slow”, I’m sure that you’ll agree and disagree with time to time with Kahneman. And I bet you’ll feel the need to express this as loud as you can.
Take your time, check the nuggets and spend some moments to think on this argumentation about the human mind.
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“Thinking Fast and Slow” QuotesNothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it. Click To Tweet Intelligence is not only the ability to reason; it is also the ability to find relevant material in memory and to deploy attention when needed. Click To Tweet The idea that the future is unpredictable is undermined every day by the ease with which the past is explained. Click To Tweet Odd as it may seem, I am my remembering self, and the experiencing self, who does my living, is like a stranger to me. Click To Tweet A reliable way of making people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
And that’s because Thinking Fast and Slow is not the kind of book you lose it on a shelf among the others. The information will grab you by the collar until you realize you’re already in the midst of debates about the human minds.
Soon you’ll wake up seeing the world and seeing yourself from a different perspective.
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