Think Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

  • Date read: April 2021.
  • How strongly I recommend: 8/10.
  • Think Fast and Slow: Recommend borrow from library

This book reminds me a lot of Dan Ariely’s book Predictably Irrational. It is a very thick book. I wish I have more time with it but I have to return it to the library soon. Overall, it was a great mind-opener (as always) to realize how your brain deceives your perception of the world.

Two Systems:

  • He had an impression, but some of his impressions are illusions. This was a pure System 1 response. She reacted to the threat before she recognized it. This is your System 1 talking. Slow down and let your system 2 take control.
  • Attention & Effort: I won’t try to solve this while driving. This is a pupil-dilating task (something that requires deep concentration). It requires mental effort! The law of least effort is operating here. He will think as little as possible. She did not forget about the meeting. She was completely focused on something else when the meeting was set and she just didn’t hear you.
  • Control: She did not have to struggle to stay on task for hours. She was in a state of flow. His ego was depleted after a long day of meetings. So he just turned to standard operating procedures instead of thinking through the problem. Unfortunately, she tends to say the first thing that comes into her mind. She probably also has trouble delaying gratification. Week System 2.
  • Priming: The sight of all these people in uniforms does not prime creativity. The world makes much less sense than you think. THe coherence comes mostly from the way your mind works. They were primed to find flaws, and this is exactly what they found. I made myself smile and I’m actually feeling better!
  • Cognitive ease: Let’s not dismiss their business plan just because the font makes it hard to read. We must be inclined to believe it because it has been repeated so often, but let’s think it through again. Familiarity breeds liking. This is a mere exposure effect. I’m in a very good mood today, and my System 2 is weaker than usual. I should be extra careful.
  • Norms and Causes: When the second applicant also turned out to be an old friend of mine, I wasn’t quite as surprised. Very little repetition is needed for a new experience to feel normal. When we survey the reaction to these products, let’s make sure we don’t focus exclusively on the average. We should consider the entire range of normal reactions. She can’t accept that she was just unlucky; she needs a causal story. She will end up thinking that someone intentionally sabotaged her work.
  • Jumping to conclusions: She knows nothing about this person’s management skills. All she is going by is the halo effect from a good presentation. Let’s decorrelate errors by obtaining separate judgments on the issue before any discussion. We will get more information from independent assessments. They made that big decision on the basis of a good report from one consultant. What you see is all there is. They did not seem to realize how little information they had. They didn’t want more information that might spoil their story. What you see is all there is.
  • Judgment: Evaluating people as attractive or not is a basic assessment. You do that automatically whether or not you want to, and it influences you. There are circuits in the brain that evaluate dominance from the shape of the face. He looks the part for a leadership role.
  • Substitution and heuristics: Do we still remember the question we are trying to answer? Or have we substituted an easier to? The question we face is whether this candidate can succeed. The question we seem to answer is whether she interviews well. Let’s not substitute. He likes the project, so he thinks its costs are low and its benefits are high. Nice example of the affect heuristic.

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