Thinking Fast and Slow

I’m coming, i’m coming, I’m coming 

– System 1 and 2


Ok, so, welcome to this page.

Kahnemann is, in short, the Godfather of behavioral economics (in the Mario Puzo sense of the word)

There is immense knowledge in these pages. I really hope  I can be of some use.


In which Kahnemann explains  to us that his desire is to improve our vocabulary related, but not limited to, biases and intuitions.  

“It is easier, and far more enjoyable, to identify and label the mistakes or others than to recognize our own”

” Questioning what we believe and want is difficult at the best of times and especially difficult when we most need to do it”

“The expectation of intelligent gossip is a powerful motive for serious self- criticism”

Most of the time we are right in trusting our intutions, but we are very ofter wrong; very often we are wrong even though we feel very confident”



Daniel Kahnemann traces his central ideas to the lucky day he ran into Amos Tversky. I am of course biased but it appears as if Amos was a funny and creative person around which Kahnemann liked to work.

Amos was able to intepret Kahnemann ‘s vague ideas and to give them direction.

Before Kahnemann/Tversky’s article “Judgement under Uncertainty, Heuristics and Biases” the idea in general was that people are in general rational and it is only under the influence of feelings that they become irrational..

It appears as  the idea that triggered their interest in cognitive biases  was the intuition that people are inherently bad statisticians, their conscience often clouded by the availability heuristic.

Where we are now 

“Expert intuition strikes us as magical, but it is not”

QUESTION:Why does Kahnemann suggest that expert intuition is not magical”?

Herbert Simon’s example on chess masters . “A situtation provides a cue, the cue gives  the expert access information stored in memory, and the information provides the expert with an answer. Intuition is nothing more and nothing less than recognition”

Many “experts” intuition , (unfortunately, says Kahnemann) do not arise form true expertise, and is often a reflection of feelings.

The example of an expert investor choosing a stock in GM mainly because he likes the car and the company is calles and “affect heuristic”, in which judgements and decisions are guided directly by our feelings of liking and disliking”

The  difficult question of “Should I buy stock” was replaced in the mind of the investor by “Do I like the stock ”

This is the essence of intuitive heuristics: when faced with a difficult question , we anwer an  easier one innstead, usuall without noticing the substitution.

FAST THINKING: System 1, involves heuristics and intuitions as well as autoimatic mental activities of perception and memlory.  It is a lot more influential in your decisions than you think it is.



(introduce funny drawing of angry person)

As a fruit of the work of fast thinking, you are ablke to immediately “know” that the woman is angry, and thtath she is probably going to say something mean.

Take the example of a multiplication. You know you can do it , yet the answer does not come immediately. If you decided to carry it out , there will be physical signs of  it , sush as a higher blood pressure and dilatep pupils. There is a feeling of burden , of strain .

System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effor and no sense of voluntary control.

System 2 allocates attention  (psychic energy) to the efforful mental activities that demmand it.The oprations of system 2 are often associated with agency, choic and concentration.


Interesting note: Maintainint a faster walking speed than your usual ” requires the work of system 2.

Paying attention ” is an apt sentence: you dispose of a limited budge.

Being unable to do two things at the same time is the hallmark of effortful activities

Indeed, intense focus on a taks can make people effectively blind , as demosntrated in the ” invisible gorilla” experiment


  • system 2 come to action when you encounter a problem whose answers are beyond the capabilities of System 1 OR WHEN YOU ARE SURPRISED # REF educational experiences.
  • System 2 is also responsible for monitoring our own  behavior ( #ChickenMihaly ref-  in flow activities, the ability to monitor ourseleves is usually shut down)



  • The division of labor between system 2 and  system 2 is highly efficient. Indeed,  system 1 is highly accurate in acting according to its representatio of the worl. It is however, prone to answering an easy question. A limitation  of System 1 is that is cannot be turned off.



The activity invilcing the two coollumns with the upper and lower cases shows us how it iis sometimes very hard to override the “rifle” if system 2 andd to pay more attentio nto system 2.



  • Include here the Muller – Lyer visual illusion.


  • There  are also “cognitive illusions “. Kahnemann provides and example,  from his Pychology years, when he was warned by one of his professors. The rpofessor explained that the young pychology students would eventually receive a patient  that would say that all the rpevious  psychologists had pfailed to him , but that feels that t you are somehow differetn and that you are certainly going to be ablo to understand = him. If one feels sympathy for a such a patient  which is completely normal , one might fall into the trap of substituting the question “should I take this patient” by ” Do I like this patient”. It is thus generally advisable to be wary our feelings for our patients.
  • Kahnemman mentions that a goal after reading this books is to learn to recognize  situation in which we suffer from routine bias. It is also a premise of the book that it is easier to recognize other people’s biases than our own.


NB ( Kahnemann on pedagogy –

He called it “System 2” instead of “Mental Arithmetic because humans in general understand sentences better when their are explineed in terms of what an agent does-The mind, and especially system 1 has special aptitude for  construction and interpretation of stories that involve active agents, with personalities, habits and abilities (#NB à la Steven Pressfield with ” resistance”

In the same vein , they are not calded effortfukl system and autommatic system becaus ethese are longer word thath  take up more of th ereader’s working memory adn ths reduce theressouvers possible allocated to actually understanding the message.


Speaking of System 1 and System 2

“That was a pure System 1 response, she reacted to the threa before she recognized it ”

This is your Sys1 talking. Slow down and let SYs2 take control.


Attention and Effort;

  • If this book were  movie, system 2 would be a supportig character who believes to be a hero.


(NB: If the dilation of the pupil makes a person look more attractive, is it possible that people with green or blue eyes are in part more attracive because of this possibility they give to us to “peek at their soul’  more clearly???)

(NB : If it is indeed so true that pupuils dilate in real time , as a signal of the amount of effort we put in somthing, wan’t we put such pupil dilatuon system in phones and computers to compute what is the leverl of challenbge at which a person is operating  and hence better adapt  the activities so as to better fit into the flow channel?)

  • Much as the elecicity meter outside of your building, pupils are and index of the curent rate at chich mental energy is used.
  • Individuals with higuer talent require less talent to solve problems with the same difficulty.
  • “The law of the least effort”: If there are several ways of avchievig the sale goakl n people wil naturall y gravitate to those where the least energy is exerted.  “In the econmy of action , peffort is a cost, and the acquisition of  skills is driven by the balance of  benefits and costs. Laziness is built deep in our nature.


(NB: What  are some of the tests on working memory that you can apply on Davy?)

(NB: Important: Probably that is why the task of gneral conversation in English is so hard, people are being ask to put together first, the action of retrieving the meaning of a work from memroy, secondly, to use the rules of grammar to arrange it properly’ 

Hence, when having people conducting an experiment in which they have to manipulate wiords and structure them to grammar, all their words have to be easily available. 

NB ( A it is mentiones in “Flow, new insights on the science of expertise, maybe it is crucial , for overall long term performance , to lake your students woirk in drills that allow them to create the perfect sentence in present tense- these drills have to be a lot longer than what you are actually doing, becaus ethe point is to move the construction of such sentence into klong term memory , so theere is no use of working memory when they are trying to do different exercises, say , manipulate vocabulary 


 Isn’t this in contradiution with the knowledge that we are actually innante gramarians?  I don’t believe so , we might be innate gramarraians but the mechanics of our mother tongue will unquestionably be  spill over to our new language.


Speaking of attention and effort:

“This is a pupil-dilating task; it requires mental effort ”

” The law of least effort is operating here, he will think as lirrle as possible”


The lazy controller

Kahnemann suspects that switching tasks and speeded up mental effort are not intrinsically pleasurable and that people avoid them when possibble.

Flow is that state of “Efortless attention”

Both playing a game of chess and riding a motorcycle at top speed require considerable attention. The focused attention in these absorbing activities requires no exertion of self control, which frees up resources to be directed at the task at hand.


The busy and depleted system 2

Both self control and cognitive effort are forms of self-control. If you are being challenged cognitively then you are more likely to yield to a temptation.

The same applies otherwise, if you are exerting self control,

(NB- What are some of the way in which student (or yourself) is exerting self control when trying to use some mental effort – I guess the answer would be working in your house, where the temptation of the bed and of visitind NSFW)


Self control requires bit attention and effort.


COMPREHENSION QUESTION FOR THE BLOG: What is the difference between cognitive business and ego depletion. 


  • Roy Baumaister’s experiment proves that all cognitive, emotional and physical effort- are drawn in part from a shared pool of mental energy.
  • Ego Depletion:Since the effort of self control is tiring, if you have to exert effort un a challenge, you are then less likey to exert self effor t in the next task.


  • UNLIKE COGNITIVE LOAD ,  ego depletion is in part related to motivation. After making an effort on a task , you really don’t feel like  making another one, yet you could do it if yoou really wanted to;  people are able  to resist the effects of ego depletion if they are proivided with strong enough incentives.
  • The idea of mental energy is more than a mere metaphor, and glucose levels appear to be related to it. It turns out that the effects of ego- depletion can be undone by ingesting glucose contiining foods, lemonade in the the case of Baumeister’s group

Judges reviewing parole applicants systematically deny them ( denial of parole  is the default option) so as the grow hungrier and more tired they start denying more and mor paroles, all the way to almos zero. Whern thery were too tired, they incurred into “ego depletion” and resortet to the default option (denying parole )



Include here the bat and a ball problem


A bat and a ball cost 1,10€ between both of them, 

The bat costs one dollar more than the ball 

How much does the bat cost? 

  • This example was used by Kahnemann to study how close System 2 monitors twhat system 1 is doing.  It also appears to prove that we are overconfident on our own intuitions.


All roses are flowers 

Some roses fade quickly 

Therefore, some roses fade quickly.


  • There appears to be a corollary from the fact that people think that this syloogism is true. Onec people have  come to believe that the conclusion is true, it is very hard to persuade them that the premises are not true .


Intelligence, Control, Rationality: 

  • Question: If individuals were ranked by both theur seld control and cognitive aptitude, would they have similar positions in two rankings?
  • The marshmallow experiment, when roving that children wwho were more able too exert self control had more successful lifes seems to confirm it . Especially, those students who scored high in self control obtained higher intelligence scores later un life.
  • Researchers art the university of Oregon attempted to increase intelligence by improving the control of attention. Training students to improve attention with  video games were not only reflected in enhanced scores in executive control, but also in nonverbal tests. The results of the training seem to have lasted for several mionths
  • QUESTION: Is there a connectionn between intelligence and self-control?
  • The ” Cognitive Reflection test” appears to be  one of the better predictors of “Lazy thinking”

Speaking of Control:


“She did not have to struggle to stay on task for hours, she was in a state of flow”

“She tends to say the first thinf that comes into her mind. She probably also has a problem delaying gratification. Weak System 2”



  • You think with your body, not with your brain
  • HUMES principles of association : Resemblance, Contiguity in time and place and causality
  • Most ofthe associative thinking is hidden even from ourselves :  “you know far less about yourself thatn you  feel you do”

If you are presented  with the word eat and then presented with a “fill in the blanks” task such as so_p, you  are a lot more likely to find the word soup,

On the other hand, if you are presented with the word “wash” and presented with the same task, you are a lot more likely to find the word “soap”

You are primed not only by words. (Introduce here the “Florida Effect”) which is a kind of “IdeoMotor Effect”

The ideo motor effect also works the other way  around as it is shown by the experiment  that proves that simply putting pencil between your lips, which forces a smile , made participants rate cartoons as more humorous.

Primes tha Guide Us

  • A study of voting patterns in Arizona reflected that when the voting booths are located close to a school, there will be a sgnificant increase in the amount of peop who vote for candidates with education in their agendas.  The same was found when priming voters with images of classrooms and school lockers.
  • MONEY: Money primed people, when asked to carry out a task, persevered for as twice as people who were not primed, which show, according to K, “a crisp demosntration of increased self reliance”
  • Money primerd people were  more selfidh  much less wiling to spend time helping a fellow experimenter whi pretnded having trouble understanding the exercise;