System 1 Thinking - Deepstash





A Nobel Prize Winner Explains How to Finally Think Clearly

System 1 Thinking

The main function of System 1 is to maintain and update a model of your personal world, which represents what is normal in it.

Consider driving your car from home to work on a quiet road.

You understand the tasks involved, such as using your car's indicators, accelerating, decelerating and so on, but breaking down exactly what you did to reach the office safely, step-by-step is difficult. Driving your car along a familiar route is intuitive.




System 2

The purpose of this system is to focus your attention on a particular task by using expert knowledge and applying a conscious mental effort.

Consider driving to work and coming across ...

Combining System 1 & 2

The two systems guide how you think. Be mindful when you move from one system to the other.

It is possible to make decisions based on your feelings when you have taxed your mind too much with effortful activities. It is useful to understand when you are thinking on autopilot, and when you are working with your metal toolbox.

System 1 

The focus of this system is: 

  • To maintain a representation of your world. It is an automatically learned skill. For example, driving your car along a familiar route requires little mental effort and is intuitive. 
  • To update a model of your world. It is from the subconscious and based on emotions. For example, when meeting a potential hire for the first time, you will get a feeling for them if they are the right candidate. 
Think like Sherlock Holmes

“What Sherlock Holmes offers isn’t just a way of solving a crime. It is an entire way of thinking."

"Holmes provides... an education in improving our faculty of mindful thought...

As children, we are remarkably aware to the world around us. This attention wanes over time as we allow more pressing responsibilities to attend to and demands on our minds to address. And as the demands on our attention increase so, too, does our actual attention decrease.

 As it does so, we become less and less able to know or notice our own thought habits and more and more allow our minds to dictate our judgments and decisions, instead of the other way around.

Pitfalls of the Untrained Brain

Daniel Kahneman believes there are two systems for organizing and filtering knowledge: 

  • System one is real-time. This system makes judgments and decisions before our mental apparatus can consciously catch up. 
  • System two, on the other hand, is a slow process of thinking based on critical examination of evidence. Konnikova refers to these as System Watson and System Holmes.

To move from a System Watson- to a System Holmes-governed thinking takes mindfulness plus motivation.