The Library: Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

Reviewed by Alex.

Once you get your head around the 2 Systems theory rather than left and right brain, this book is a revelation.

To explain, System 1 is your fast thinking, automatic operational system that makes most of your decisions instantly based on intuition, perception and memory. It’s the silent author of your choices, and operates without us knowing. It has bias, ignores logic and loves a good story.  System 2 on the other hand is the one we think of when we think of ourselves – your deliberate thought. It’s much slower, considered and allocates attention and memory to harder tasks that need more focus. It’s also very lazy.

Illustration by David Plunkert

Illustration by David Plunkert

How they operate is that S1 is constantly running, suggesting impressions, impulses and feelings to S2, that if endorsed (and it’s easily swayed) become beliefs or actions. S2 only really kicks into gear when S1 is stumped or surprised, or is a mistake has been made.

The Systems are the basis for the book, and are key to explaining the great list of heuristics and behavioural science findings that are covered by Kahneman. Although most people have blindness to their blindness and wouldn’t believe they have an automated system they can’t control, the book has exercises throughout that point out where and how it operates, most of the time giving surprising and entertaining results.

The book does seem to work on a rule of two – two systems, two species (rational econs and irrational humans) and two selves (the remembering and experiencing self) that can be a bit confusing, but overall it’s an incredible piece of writing that’s the life work of the Nobel prize winning author. The decades of research and musing show how deep he’s explored his theories and not just accepted his first thoughts. Everything is considered, reconsidered and proven to make it into the book. It should be one of the staple books for anyone interested in marketing science.

Alex DavidsonLIbrary