As part of Octalysis Prime, Yu-kai provides OP Insights on important research and books in the field of, in this case, Behavior Economics.
Author asks readers to look at a woman’s photo and states that the reader, without trying, immediately knows the woman is angry. Then he shows a math problem 17 x 24 and asks us to calculate it. He states that the first one is based on System 1 (we immediately know intuitively), and the second one is System 2 (we deliberately have to think about it). Our System 1 immediately knows it is a multiplication problem and that we could likely solve it. Our system 1 would also know what is probably too high or too low. But we wouldn’t know for sure if 568 is correct or not. We have to CHOOSE to engage our System 2 to start solving the problem.
System 1 and System 2 terminology come from psychologists Keith Stanovich and Richard West.
Intense focusing on a task can make people effectively blind to anything else. When we are focusing on a difficult task of tracking people wearing white shirts from black shirts, we miss a gorilla costume person walking in front of the screen. This is demonstrated in Chabris and Simons’ book The invisible gorilla and demonstrated by Netflix Brain Game.
The counting task and the instruction to ignore the other team causes this. 50% of the people don’t see it, and would not believe at all they would miss something so obvious.
When a lot of resources are allocated to system 2, our system 1 becomes less effective.
“We can be blind to the obvious, and we are also blind to our blindness.”
System 1 usually makes suggestions to System 2, and System 2 is in low effort mode and agrees to the intuition or impression. This then becomes belief.
When System 1 cannot solve and issue, System 2 then becomes highly engaged.
System 2 keeps up polite when angry, and focused when driving at night. System 1 makes way more decisions but usually System 2 has the final say if it bothers.
System 1 usually works quite well, and it cannot be turned off. It is working all the time.
Sometimes System 1 and 2 have a conflict, such as saying the text “right” is on the left. We may still identify those correctly, but we need to slow down to properly do it.
The famous Muller-Lyer illusion shows 2 lines, one with fins pointing outwards and one with find pointing inwards. If we have seen it, our system 2 knows as a fact that the lines are equal length, but our system 1 will continue to let us see that one line is longer than the other. We cannot unsee the longer line, but we have learned to mistrust it.
Sometimes there are cognitive illusions (instead of just visual). If a patient tells a doctor that every doctor in the past has screwed them over, but you are different. Run away from this patient, even though system 1 wants to help him. The strong sympathetic attraction to the patient is like the lines with fin – it is an illusion and our system 2 should learn to distrust it.
Yu-kai’a note: the patient actually effectively used CD5: Social Influence, CD7: Curiosity on this disease, CD3 for the doctor to see if he can solve the problem that no one else can, CD 4: Identity in the sense of “I am that uniquely good doctor that cares about patience” and even CD1: Calling, “it’s my life mission to cure people, especially those who are mistreated by others”. No wonder even doctors cannot resist this!
We cannot turn system 1 off, but it is impractical to always be vigilant of these cognitive illusions. The best we can do it recognize situations that these errors are more prone to happen, especially when stakes are high.
The reason why we name systems 1 & 2 as characters is because it is more memorable to the Brain than abstract academic terms. Character and personalities are more memorable.
Yu-kai notes: this is adding CD5 to create more relatedness with the concept.
Author gives some ways to use his concepts in everyday conversation at the end of each chapter, such as, “This is your System 1 talking. Slow down and let your System 2 take control.”
Yu-kai notes: While it is a bit geeky and only helpful among people who have this studied, this is a good example of CD3: Empowerment. The author immediately allows users to see how they can strategically USE these concepts in everyday conversations, perhaps sounding smarter and grasping the concepts better as a result.
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