Think Fast! Reed’s Reads: March Edition

think fastWritten by Dylan Reed, Program Associate for the Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems 

2 + 2=?

13 x 27=?

You were undoubtedly able to answer the first problem immediately and without thinking. The second problem, however, may have furrowed your brow at first glance. You knew you could find the solution, but may have been grabbing for a paper and pencil.

This month’s edition of Reed’s Reads tackles Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Kahneman, the 2002 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in Economics and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, uses the two “fictitious characters” of “System 1” and “System 2” to describe how our thinking works. System 1 uses impressions and intuitions to operate quickly and automatically and will even influence System 2 during decision making. System 2 functions during activities that require an increased level of mental effort. The examples of math computations listed above serve the purpose to show the difference between each System: 2 + 2 (System 1); 13 x 27 (System 2).

Kahneman provides wonderful examples to help readers peer into their psychological operations. My personal favorites include the “halo effect” – “the tendency to like (or dislike) everything about a person” – and the “affect heuristic in which people let their likes and dislikes determine their beliefs about the world.”

The author invites readers to question their own thinking, but also on a broader level. His examples encourage us to look at our colleagues, fellow citizens, and the world in a different perspective than we may have previously.

The halo effect and affect heuristic are particularly interesting if applied to the policy and political realm. Do you support a policy because you like the person advocating for it? Or is there evidence to back your beliefs?

I strongly recommend that you give this book a read!

By the way, 13 x 27 = 351.

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