Think fast…or slow by Daniel Kahneman

Think fast…or slow

Thinking Fast and Slow

How can we prevent errors in judgement?  Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking Fast and Slow, has gained ground in answering this question through his work in psychology and behavioral economics. The core idea of the book is that we have two thinking systems, which Kahneman names “System One” and “System Two”, that guide our intuitive and rational thoughts. Thinking Fast and Slow tells the story of the lifetime of discoveries that led to his Nobel Prize in Economics and provides us with a front row seat on a tour of the workings of our own mind. The book will very likely change the way you think, as long as you are willing to work on applying these simple concepts.

Have you ever wondered why you just get a “good feeling” about some people, or how an expert can just pull an estimate “out of thin air”. Kahnman discusses that “good feeling”, known as the Halo effect, and describes how a positive first impression can influence our decisions even when poor performance follows. He also outlines exactly how our thinking “System 1”, which is intuitive in nature, tends to jump to conclusions based on available information and familiar assumptions. Thinking Fast and Slow is filled with memorable terms like WYSIATI, or “What You See Is All There Is”, that flag our most pervasive tendencies for bias. WYSIATI identifies how we tend to undervalue information that we do not have when we draw conclusions. These memorable terms stick with the reader even when the book is closed, and, if applied, support better decision making.

Do you keep a mental account; weighing the good and the bad? In this book you will see how we all keep some form of mental score, and tend to only feel right when it is settled, whether or not these terms can or actually do equal. What makes you happiest; marriage, goal setting, or a new car?  Kahneman addresses why we tend to overvalue the impact of life events like getting married or having a shiny auto on happiness and describes how goals and aspirations have a significant impact on our satisfaction with our life circumstances.

Our thinking “System 2”, or our more effortful and logical thought process, is lazy and this book gives the reader a workout! Some sections of Thinking Fast and Slow tend towards the academic, like when Kahneman is describing exactly which rule of probability was violated by 85% of a group of graduate students when they were presented with a question that seems to have an easy intuitive answer. The dense sections are worth working through, though, to benefit from the book’s very practical purpose, which is to encourage improvements in the quality of the reader’s decision making. Decided you’d like to give it a read? Pick up a copy here.