Thinking fast and slow

It talks in terms of system 1 and system 2.

System 1 is the gut instinct part of the brain, it processes things subconsciously and is generally pretty correct. It can be tricked though, or at least primed for a response. If it thinks it's required, then it'll get system 2 involved, which is basically the newer part of the brain which does the conscious (slower) thinking.

The annoying thing about system1 and being primed, is that it happens regardless of whether you want it to. It really is automatic. The book points to lots of experiments where people were primed and responded in various ways. One of the more interesting was money. Get people to think about money and they basically become more self centered, selfish, meaner (and focused perhaps). What does that tell us about society?

If you're in a happy space, or if it's made easy for you to think something, then you basically will (automatically). for example,

How many types of each animal did Moses bring on the ark?

What did you answer? Did you notice anything strange?

Selected quotes from Thinking, Fast and Slow

an intriguing question:

You will occasionally do more than your share, but it is useful to know that you are likely to have that feeling even when each member of the team feels the same way.

This emotional reaction becomes a story in itself, prompting additional coverage in the media, which in turn produces greater concern and involvement. The cycle is sometimes sped along deliberately by “availability entrepreneurs,” individuals or organizations who work to ensure a continuous flow of worrying news. The danger is increasingly exaggerated as the media compete for attention-grabbing headlines. Scientists and others who try to dampen the increasing fear and revulsion attract little attention, most of it hostile: anyone who claims that the danger is overstated is suspected of association with a “heinous cover-up.” The issue becomes politically important because it is on everyone’s mind, and the response of the political system is guided by the intensity of public sentiment. The availability cascade has now reset priorities. Other risks, and other ways that resources could be applied for the public good, all have faded into the background.

Subjects’ unwillingness to deduce the particular from the general was matched only by their willingness to infer the general from the particular.

Many psychologists have studied what happens when people change their minds. Choosing a topic on which minds are not completely made up—say, the death penalty—the experimenter carefully measures people’s attitudes. Next, the participants see or hear a persuasive pro or con message. Then the experimenter measures people’s attitudes again; they usually are closer to the persuasive message they were exposed to. Finally, the participants report the opinion they held beforehand. This task turns out to be surprisingly difficult. Asked to reconstruct their former beliefs, people retrieve their current ones instead—an instance of substitution—and many cannot believe that they ever felt differently.

outcomes. In a memorable example, Dawes showed that marital stability is well predicted by a formula: frequency of lovemaking minus frequency of quarrels You don’t want your result to be a negative number.

about hiring the best possible person for the job, this is what you should do. First, select a few traits that are prerequisites for success in this position (technical proficiency, engaging personality, reliability, and so on). Don’t overdo it—six dimensions is a good number. The traits you choose should be as independent as possible from each other, and you should feel that you can assess them reliably by asking a few factual questions. Next, make a list of those questions for each trait and think about how you will score it, say on a 1–5 scale. You should have an idea of what you will call “very weak” or “very strong.” These preparations should take you half an hour or so, a small investment that can make a significant difference in the quality of the people you hire. To avoid halo effects, you must collect the information on one trait at a time, scoring each before you move on to the next one. Do not skip around. To evaluate each candidate, add up the six scores. Because you are in charge of the final decision, you should not do a “close your eyes.” Firmly resolve that you will hire the candidate whose final score is the highest, even if there

His informal survey was surely not up to scientific standards of evidence, but it provided a reasonable basis for a baseline prediction: the prediction you make about a case if you know nothing except the category to which it belongs. As we saw earlier, the baseline prediction should be the anchor for further adjustments.

Loss aversion refers to the relative strength of two motives: we are driven more strongly to avoid losses than to achieve gains.

and we draw an illusory but sharp distinction between omission and commission, not doing and doing, because the sense of responsibility is greater for one than for the other.

plausible interpretation is that higher income is associated with a reduced ability to enjoy the small pleasures of life. There is suggestive evidence in favor of this idea: priming students with the idea of wealth reduces the pleasure their face expresses as they eat a bar of chocolate!

goals—one recipe for a dissatisfied adulthood is setting goals that are especially difficult to attain.

Nothing in life is as important as you think it is when you are thinking about it.