It should be immediately apparent to you that the woman is on the verge of exploding with anger. Possibly also in the process of exchanging some choice words.
Now look at the following problem 17 x 34.
This bound to take some thought. You are immediately aware that this is multiplication problem. But in order to work it out mentally or with pen and paper, requires considerable mental effort.
The above 2 examples are from the book “Thinking, fast and slow” by Nobel laureate, Daniel Kahneman. Kahneman refers to the former mode of thinking as using System 1, which is fast, automatic and immediately apparent. The latter mode, which requires deliberate thought requires the use of System 2, and involves effortful mental activity.
While System 1 mode of thinking is both intuitive and fast and is our evolutionary response to quickly responding to many things. On the other hand System 2 is methodical is slow and has to be worked out,
System 1 & System 2 are constantly at work with System 1 aiding any work done by System 2. This post is not a review about the book itself. However, I would like to use the above discussion for another related aspect of the way we conduct our lives. Here is another interesting example
A bat & ball cost $. 1.10. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
If your answer was 10c then you were wrong. With a pen and paper or with a little conscious thought you will realize that the bat would need to cost $1.05 and the ball 5c.
So this is what I would like to focus on. We as human beings are lazy thinkers. We rush to conclusions without much thought. We fail to work System 2 appropriately, instead take the easy course of taking the immediate response of System 1.
Here are some examples where we would be much better off if we spend a little extra time pondering before we make a decision or come to a conclusion.
For e.g. when we learn a new skill for e.g. to play a musical instrument, painting or even taking a new role at your office. There are typically 3 stages in learning. Initially you will have a steep learning curve when you will be forced to exercise System 2. In the 2nd stage you would have acquired the skill and you will be able to go on autopilot without much work for System 2. Usually once people reach this stage they get used to comfort of the learned ease and just plateau at this point. If you really want to improve then in the 2nd stage if you make a conscious effort to learn where your shortcomings are you can move from the average to an expert.
Other instances where lazy thinking is in full force is when we jump to conclusions based on inbuilt biases and opinions. We never take a moment to reflect. We intensely dislike someone based on our System 1’s evaluation and we continue to dislike the person. If only we set our System 2 in motion and tried to understand why we hate somebody we may realize that there was no basis for the hatred.
While System 1 is there for a reason it does not make sense to use System 1 for all situations in our life. We need to get out of our lazy thinking style and take a more active role not only in our lives but also in our thought!