Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman

When we think about thinking we normally assume that we know what’s going on in our minds at any given moment, that one conscious thought leads in an orderly way to another.  But, according to Daniel Kahneman, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, that is not the only way the mind works—nor indeed is it the typical way. Most impressions and thoughts arise in our conscious experience without us knowing how they got there. Kahneman says, “The mental work that produces impressions, intuitions, and many other decisions goes on in silence in our minds.”

Kahneman’s aim in Thinking, Fast and Slow is to improve our ability to identify and  understand errors of judgement and choice, first in others and eventually  in ourselves, by providing a richer, more precise language to discuss them. He presents processes of judgment and decision making, drawing on decades of psychological discoveries and research.

Kahneman identifies two systems of thinking that work in concert. System 1 is automatic, often unconscious, and underlies intuitive thinking, while System 2 allocates attention to effortful mental activities and is associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice and concentration. However, we are influenced by an array of cognitive biases, effects, illusions, and fallacies that can affect decision-making without us even being aware of them. This array of influences serve as Kahneman’s central exploration.

Thinking, Fast and Slow is dense and heavy-going, but ultimately rewarding. Leaders with stamina will find a lot of valuable material to draw on for their own decision-making processes, as well as offering a paradigm for establishing organisational processes that will ensure that collaboration among teams and team members is fairer and more transparent.

For more information on this subject and how it relates to decision-making in business, see “Thinking Fast And Slow—The Neuroscience Behind Good Decision-Making“.

Published in 2011 by Penguin Books


Daniel Kahneman is an Israeli American psychologist and winner of the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. He is notable for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making, behavioral economics and hedonic psychology.

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