“Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman

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Introduction

There are many reasons for reading the book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. One of the evident causes is that this book about human behaviors and decisions was written by a laureate of the Nobel Memorial Prize in the field of Economic Sciences. After a year of its publication, the author got the National Academies Communication Award. Finally, this book is one of the most recognizable bestsellers during the last nine years. In total, Thinking, Fast and Slow consists of five parts, preceded by an introduction and followed by a thoughtful conclusion. In the main body, there are 38 chapters that show how the human brain works through the prism of two systems. The reader gets a chance to learn how to understand personal behavioral changes and the intention to control everything without having enough experience. Human emotions have a significant impact on decision-making, and people need a good analytical system. Among a variety of themes and ideas in the chosen book, this paper will focus on the explanation of the fundamental systems in the human mind, the peculiarities of irrationality, and the conditions when confidence becomes overconfident.

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Two Systems

When talking about Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, one of its most remarkable issues is the presentation of two agents, System 1 and System 2, to describe mental life. The author prescribes the quality of automatic operations to System 1 and controlled operations to System 2 (Kahneman 21). At this moment, psychologists have already made a number of steps and developed multiple approaches to comprehend how the human mind works and functions. Within the frames of System 1, no sense of voluntary control is expected because all operations are done quickly and automatically due to obtained experiences and background knowledge (Kahneman 26). System 2 differs from the previous system because of the necessity to think slowly and pay attention to mental activities while analyzing complex situations or making calculations (Kahneman 26). As a result, any person has access to two systems of thinking that remain active during the state of being awake. Despite the existing differences, one should admit that System 2 aims at monitoring the activities that are developed within System 1 (for example, the emergence of beliefs and ideas).

After reading the book, I find the author’s position rational and clear. I agree that it is necessary to create some categories in order to understand, analyze, and control human behaviors. It is correct to define System 2 as a lazy one because its work depends on the resources offered by System 1. For example, intuition, as a component of System 1, reaches System 2, where local processing occurs and turns intuition or another unknown feeling into a belief. As soon as the work of both systems is combined, human judgments and decision-making are developed. However, at the same time, regardless of the differentiation of functions, some errors cannot be avoided, and Kahneman tried to find out the explanation and predict it in the future. The implementation of these systems helps to identify other critical themes for discussion where human irrationality, confidence, and the formulation of judgments determine interpersonal relationships and business opportunities.

Human Irrationality

In this book, the author does not hide his intention to find answers to a variety of questions and improve research on human judgments and behaviors. Among the offered methods and approaches, Kahneman suggests investigating the process of making decisions when people are uncertain about something (170). The development of psychological theory about the conditions under which decisions are made. Prospect theory contains the idea that it is common that individuals like to evaluate their gains or losses if they decide to do something instead of focusing on the outcomes of their actions. In other words, their current benefits turn out to be more critical compared to changes in their own lives and the lives of other people. To explain human irrationality, Kahneman recommends explaining if an event is coherent and if it is probable. The analysis of cognitive biases (named by Kahneman heuristic) shows that people usually act not to support their interests and demands but to avoid mistakes, which results in the lack of statistical thinking and the creation of new errors.

In continuing his research, Kahneman tries to create a system or a theory with the help of which human irrationality can be eliminated. However, at this point, I have another opinion and believe that irrationality is something that makes all people humans with their individual demands, interests, and ideas. According to Kahneman, irrationality turns out to be a strong word that includes the emotionality and resistance of people to reasons and evidence (439). Therefore, when someone uses this word to underline mistakes, the lack of knowledge, or inattentiveness (in other words, any actions that lead to negative or wrong outcomes), it could lose its uniqueness. Humans should never be perfect rational models, and their irrationality is the way of how free decisions and evaluations are made and developed to come to another correct thought. Personally, I find irrationality attractive, and I want to believe that this message was purposefully implied by the author in this book.

Overconfidence

Many people of different ages and ethnicities like to believe that all their decisions and actions are correct. Kahneman calls such individuals lazy because of the existing flaw in a reflective mind or a failure to think rationally (55). To understand better the essence of overconfidence, the author introduces a new approach “What You See Is All There Is” or WYSIATI (Kahneman 85). According to this theory, people make decisions on the basis of what they know about what is known and interpret situations through the offered prism. Human confidence does not depend on the quantity of the evidence but could be determined b the quality of the story people want to share. The experiment offered by Kahneman includes a group of people who have already made a decision, and now they are informed that their actions could lead to a disaster in one year (291). People start questioning the effectiveness of their plan and try to investigate other aspects of the same case and clarify if another solution is possible. This situation shows that the suppression of doubt cannot be ignored in human relations and an understanding of overconfidence.

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I like the idea of WYSIATY and the biases it provokes. People are not always able to accept a simple fact that the possibility of some evidence can be neglected but remain critical for human judgments. Confidence is usually good for the development of business relationships, decision-making, and problem-solving among a group of people who needs strong leadership. However, confidence should never be confused with overconfidence when biased conclusions are raised from subjective experiences and attitudes. As a result, errors cannot be avoided, the balance between System 1 and System 2 is lost, and misunderstandings spoil society. In the majority of cases, people believe that they have enough knowledge and experiences to learn from the past and contribute to the future. Kahneman teaches how to adjust the attitudes toward the world through either fast or slow thinking. Overconfident people tend to take risks, short-term decisions, and responsibilities without thinking about their potential threats to the environment. Therefore, Kahneman does not want to support or oppose optimists (and I agree with this position) in order to provide people with an opportunity to see the line between confidence and overconfidence.

Conclusion

In general, the book under analysis causes a number of various emotions and attitudes. On the one hand, Kahneman succeeds in explaining the peculiarities of human behaviors and offers a clear framework that consists of two systems. Despite the fact that System 2 is determined as lazier than System 1, certain benefits of the former usually prevail over the problems of the latter. A number of attempts have already been made to comprehend how the human brain functions and how it is possible to control its work. Although Kahneman does not give clear answers to the questions of how to predict human mistakes, biased decisions, or business disasters, he motivates the reader to work with the cognitive biases of other people, not just personal confidence or doubts. It is not always easy to make a decision and be 100% sure that it is correct. However, it is always possible to evaluate a situation and develop an opinion, either rational or irrational.

References

Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2011.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, January 15). "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. Retrieved from https://psychologywriting.com/thinking-fast-and-slow-by-daniel-kahneman/

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, January 15). "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. https://psychologywriting.com/thinking-fast-and-slow-by-daniel-kahneman/

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""Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman." PsychologyWriting, 15 Jan. 2022, psychologywriting.com/thinking-fast-and-slow-by-daniel-kahneman/.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022) '"Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman'. 15 January.

References

PsychologyWriting. 2022. ""Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman." January 15, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/thinking-fast-and-slow-by-daniel-kahneman/.

1. PsychologyWriting. ""Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman." January 15, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/thinking-fast-and-slow-by-daniel-kahneman/.


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PsychologyWriting. ""Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman." January 15, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/thinking-fast-and-slow-by-daniel-kahneman/.