Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman takes you on a journey through the extensive research that Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky have done. Luckily it is not a long, and boring read, that summarises the findings in academic jargon. The opposite is true, it gives a lively overview of their findings, and uses vivid real-life examples.


The main concept of Kahneman’s theory is a division between System 1 and System 2 thinking. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional. System 2 is slow, deliberate, and more logical. When you try and solve the equation 2+2 you will almost immediately shout out the answer. But when you compute 12×37, a deliberate strategy, in which you apply some rules of math, will take place.


System 1 uses heuristics, shortcuts that make understanding the world less tiresome. Although most of the time this poses no problem, Kahneman has come up with an impressive list of worrisome cases when it does. Choice architecture, a topic also discussed by Dan Ariely, is only one of them.


Between The Netherlands and Belgium, there are vast differences in how many people are organ donors (think 25% and 90%). And now consider that The Netherlands has had a very large campaign to promote organ donor and has stuck at 25%. And Belgium has done no such thing. The key here is the form, in The Netherlands, it is an opt-in form, and in Belgium an opt-out form. That means that the default option in Belgium is to be an organ donor unless you actively say you do not want to be one. Kahneman shows that by such a small change, a vast difference between choices is possible.

Also see Predictably Irrational.


In a reflection on his lifetime of research, mostly with Tversky, Kahneman has done a great job of giving insight into the thinking of men. He has exposed many of the underlying principles that govern some of our largest flaws. He states that the System 2 thinking is hard and that our brain loves to be lazy. The power of habits becomes clear in that System 2 actions will become System 1 actions.


With a Nobel Prize in his pocket, Kahneman has done an astounding job of making the field of Social Science open to the public. The only critique on the book may be the length, after 418 pages of new information, your System 2 will be saturated.


The Book:

Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman – ISBN-10: 0374533555 | ISBN-13: 978-0374533557


More on  Thinking, Fast and Slow:,_Fast_and_Slow – The Wikipedia of Thinking, Fast and Slow – The CIA on Thinking, Fast and Slow – Blink by Malcolm Gladwell – Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely – Nudge by Richard H. Thaler – The Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg – Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain