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Thinking, Fast and Slow

Intuition or deliberation? Where you can (and can't) trust your brain

By Daniel Kahneman
19-minute read
Audio available
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011) – a recapitulation of the decades of research that led to his winning the Nobel Prize – explains his contributions to our current understanding of psychology and behavioral economics. Over the years, Kahneman and his colleagues, whose work the book discusses at length, have significantly contributed to a new understanding of the human mind. We now have a better understanding of how decisions are made, why certain judgment errors are so common and how we can improve ourselves. 

This is a Blinkist staff pick

“Complex processes put in simple words, accompanied by adequate examples – this book-in-blinks made me reflect on the way I make decisions and interpret major events in life. If you’re looking for thought-provoking reading material, that’s your pick!”

– Plamena, Customer Support

  • Anyone interested in how our minds work, how we solve problems, how we make judgments and what weaknesses our minds are predisposed to
  • Anyone interested in Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman’s contributions to psychology and behavioral economics, and how those contributions apply to society at large

Daniel Kahneman, PhD, won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002. He is the Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs Emeritus at the Woodrow Wilson School, Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton University, and a fellow of the Center for Rationality at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

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Thinking, Fast and Slow

By Daniel Kahneman
  • Read in 19 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 12 key ideas
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Synopsis

Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011) – a recapitulation of the decades of research that led to his winning the Nobel Prize – explains his contributions to our current understanding of psychology and behavioral economics. Over the years, Kahneman and his colleagues, whose work the book discusses at length, have significantly contributed to a new understanding of the human mind. We now have a better understanding of how decisions are made, why certain judgment errors are so common and how we can improve ourselves. 

This is a Blinkist staff pick

“Complex processes put in simple words, accompanied by adequate examples – this book-in-blinks made me reflect on the way I make decisions and interpret major events in life. If you’re looking for thought-provoking reading material, that’s your pick!”

– Plamena, Customer Support

Key idea 1 of 12

The lazy mind: how laziness can lead to errors and affect our intelligence.

To see how the two systems work, try solving this famous bat-and-ball problem:

A bat and ball cost $1.10. The bat costs one dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

The price that most likely came to your mind, $0.10, is a result of the intuitive and automatic System 1, and it’s wrong! Take a second and do the math now.

Do you see your mistake? The correct answer is $0.05.

What happened was that your impulsive System 1 took control and automatically answered by relying on intuition. But it answered too fast.

Usually, when faced with a situation it can’t comprehend, System 1 calls on System 2 to work out the problem, but in the bat-and-ball problem, System 1 is tricked. It perceives the problem as simpler than it is, and incorrectly assumes it can handle it on its own.

The issue the bat-and-ball problem exposes is our innate mental laziness. When we use our brain, we tend to use the minimum amount of energy possible for each task. This is known as the law of least effort. Because checking the answer with System 2 would use more energy, our mind won’t do it when it thinks it can just get by with System 1.

This laziness is unfortunate, because using System 2 is an important aspect of our intelligence. Research shows that practicing System-2 tasks, like focus and self-control, lead to higher intelligence scores. The bat-and-ball problem illustrates this, as our minds could have checked the answer by using System 2 and thereby avoided making this common error.

By being lazy and avoiding using System 2, our mind is limiting the strength of our intelligence.

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