Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, was a harder novel for me to read because I am a fast reader and this book requires you to fully understand the perception of the book in which requires an exuberant amount of visualization in order to understand the concept that is being established. I am not a Psychology major, but I am going to attempt to explain the basis of this book at my best.
This book describes in detail the reasoning’s behind our automatic actions that we live out on a daily basis. There are five parts to this book in which each part of the book becomes more elaborated than the next. Part one goes on to describe how us humans have two systems; System 1 and system 2. System 1 requires almost no effort and system 2 requires effort. System 1 is responsible for operating readily while system 2 requires a clear mind to think more slowly than system 1 in order to solve problems. When we find reasons to believe or deny circumstances we are using our system 2, but by automatically assuming a conclusion without thought we are at fault by using our system 1. The entire book is based on how he was able to examine the interactions of the two systems in order to think more rationally without error. He goes on to explain how the 48 heuristics influence our system 1, but how each heuristic is investigated by our system 2. If an everyday activity required us to use our system 2 we would be exhausted because of such an extensive slow thinking process. Therefore, our system 1 is primarily responsible for the reasoning’s behind our actions.
In Chapter 5, Kahneman explains how cognitive ease works. For example, this book did not give me any cognitive ease because it required more attention to compute what each chapter was talking about. To develop our own beliefs, attitudes, and views we tend to relate events to what seems to be true and what story is closet to our most recent beliefs. In this case, our out of body experience lecture did not make me feel a sense of cognitive ease. My sister would always tell me stories about her sleep paralysis and how she could see other people in the room as well as herself while she was sleeping. Because this went on for years and she was someone whom I trusted I developed a sense of cognitive ease around the idea that an out of body experience was real or could be real. However, our lecture on using 10% of our brains and out of body experiences made me lose some of my cognitive ease surrounding this topic. The lecture describes how an out of body experience can closely be confused with lucid dreaming and how this type of experience really depends on how well developed one’s nervous system is.
I think a majority of the lectures we learned throughout this semester circle around heuristic number 7: substitutions. For example, many people may have believed in UFO abductions, psychics, graphology, or the jersey devil based on stories they had heard or research that they had conducted, but neglect to answer the harder question which would be why these ideas could not exist. Ultimately, if we let our emotions that are derived off of our beliefs control our judgment we run the risk of overestimating or underestimating the various positive and negative possibilities.
By using “anchors” we are prone to be more impressionable than what meets the eye. When we expect something to occur at a given time and the time is either under or over our limit, we tend to become slightly confused because subconsciously we already had a previous estimate in our minds and when it is not followed through we are prone to making an incorrect estimate. Additionally, many people fall victim to Kahneman WYSIATI, what you see is all there is, abbreviation. People will use their judgment of someone to develop an impression on them whether it is a good or bad impression.
As people, we tend to act out certain actions when it seems in favor of a personal experience rather than statistical facts. Picture this scenario. The carbon monoxide detector in your house has had dead batteries in it for months and you do not seem eager to replace them any time soon. Recently your neighbor was out of down, but their carbon monoxide detector was going off all night. Realizing that this could have been you while you were sleeping you decide to replace your batteries for your detector the next day. This example describes Kahneman’s twelfth heuristic: the availability heuristic. This heuristic can also correlate with our lecture about psychics. For example, you have always been skeptic of the idea of someone being able to see futuristic events. However, you have a friend that recently went to a psychic to get a reading. When they come back they tell you that she was extremely accurate in her readings and that you have to go even though you had never had any intention on ever seeing a psychic; you decide to go. At this moment you have fallen victim to overestimating your beliefs on a sense of ease.
My favorite part of this book was discussed in Chapters 27. In Chapter 27 titled the endowment effect, Kahneman explains how humans tend to cling onto objects that we consider to be sentimental to us and dislike the idea of losing it unless a considerably significant payment is offered to us in exchange. The Chapter begins by explaining the importance of someone’s reference point especially during the exchange of valuables. He states, “In labor negotiations, it is well understood by both sides that the reference point is the existing contract and that the negotiations will focus on mutual demands for concessions relative to the reference point”(Kahneman, 290). For an example, if you are at an auction attempting to by an item, it is important to know the minimum and maximum amount you are willing to pay for something so that way the negotiator is willing to work with your reference point.
He goes on to describe how we tend to compare scenarios or items based on the advantages and the disadvantages, but the disadvantages seem to always appear larger than the advantages of something new. Through the use of standard theory he explains how two equally different advantages are offered to two different individuals. When both of these individuals decide to keep their advantage and neglect to swap for each other’s item he states how they both become victims of loss aversion. I feel like I could connect to this part of the book for a couple of reasons. If I was given a diamond neckless and my friend was given a cash equivalent, I would choose to keep the neckless. However, I would have a loss aversion because by keeping the neckless I lose the chance of having that cash on hand for me. I could take advantage of wearing the neckless for a little bit, and then trading over the item for her cash.
He uses an example in Chapter 27 that I noticed caught my attention faster than any of his other examples. He goes to explain how a valuable item in which you hold great value for that you own is seen to be even more valuable by others whom do not own that item. In your mind you have a maximum amount that you would pay for the item. However, you find that if you gave away this item you could make significantly more than what you originally paid for. This is called the endowment effect. However, to give up this item depends on your reference point. We are more apprehensive of the idea of loses than we are to achieving a possible gain. He states, “The response to a loss is stronger than the response to a corresponding gain” (Kahneman, 293). I relate closely to this because I consider myself a miser. No matter what I buy, I never want to let go of my money because I always feel as if I am losing my item in which I hold value to even though what I am purchasing could be equivalently significant.
Additionally, I gave much thought to an example he has described in Chapter 28 as well. “A single cockroach will completely wreck the appeal of a bowl of cherries, but a cherry will do nothing at all for a bowl of cockroaches” (Kahneman, 302). This scenario made me think that the negative traits always overpower the positive ones no matter what it is. For example, you decide to rent a house with five other people and you are given the biggest room of the house which includes a master bathroom, top quality furniture, beautifully painted walls, and spacious vicinity for activities. Everything sounds perfect expect for the fact that there is black mold growing in the corner by the vent. No matter what this room has to offer, you decide that you no longer want this room because of the one negative trait it holds.
For the creative part of this book report I decided to come up with an exercise that depicts heuristic number 1: Priming. Pick the picture that correlates the most with the word “bliss.”
Because this was my first and only psychology class that I have ever taken, I thought that this book was considerably difficult for me to read in my opinion. However, after reading Thinking ,Fast and Slow I came to a conclusion that what Kahneman was explaining about how and why our minds do what they do is not far off for what I believe prior to reading this book. I feel as though I already use the solutions the book describes in each heuristic to a problems that I may have encountered. Trusting expert intuition is a heuristic in which I can connect too. If I suspect that something is wrong with my body I tend to do research first to lay out all possibilities before going to a doctor’s office now. Unlike others, I do not trust expert intuition fully. I like to do my own research before fully trusting what an expert has to say. Like Kahneman, I too am skeptical of experts. There have been a few incidences where specialists came to a conclusion that happened to be completely wrong. After feeling sick and under the weather for a few weeks I decided to visit a doctor’s office to test for Streptococcus. The results came back negative and they told me to go home and mouthwash with salt water. A day or two later I could not breathe without the feeling the sensation of knifes scrapping down my throat. After being hospitalized, I was told that I had a combination of Streptococcus and mononucleosis. After this experience I no longer trust expert intuition to an extent. Rather, I research information for myself now to avoid possible misleading opinions of experts who may or may not know the extent of their knowledge in order to rule out any mistakes.
I am also aware of the heuristic the illusion of validity in chapter twenty. Unlike some, I prefer not to assume something is accurate just because I am one hundred percent confident that it is unless hearing someone else’s opinion. This could be the reason why I am frequently neutral with a lot of debates, arguments, and when it comes to picking sides. Just because I am confident in what I believe is to be true, does not mean that it is factual.
However, I do omit subjectivity which is described in chapter twenty five. Because everyone has their own reference point to which they uphold to, I tend to forget that what I give minimal value to could be of even more value to the next person. I have developed a scenario for this specific heuristic. You are a working middle class pedestrian crossing the road and next to you is a nonworking lower class pedestrian also crossing the road. You both come across a twenty dollar bill. For you, this could be gas money for the car you already own; not a big deal. However, for the other this twenty dollar bill could possibly put a full meal on the table for their family. This twenty dollar bill for you is not of the greatest value, but for the next it could hold a much higher value.