System 1 and 2 quick guide

In our post ‘Kahneman Fast and Slow thinking explained‘ we have elaborated in depth on system 1 and 2 thinking. And Daniel Kahneman’s work. Therefore, this post is meant for those who already grasp the groundbreaking concepts of Kahneman. The concept on human decision making as explained in his book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow‘. However, now and then we need a visual reminder of the differences between system 1 and 2. In short, that is why we have made an overview with the main characteristics of both the system 1 and system 2 operating systems in our brain. By highlighting the differences between the two.

system 1 and 2

Thinking fast and slow

Thinking Fast and Slow is all about how our brain uses short-cuts to base our decisions upon. For example, one of the short-cuts that have been tested in scientific research is the use of the picture of a brain. For instance, if you use a picture of a brain the system 1 of your listeners will think you are smart. You can use this by putting the visual above on your Keynote slides.

In other words, we thought it was a nice tip before we give you the overview or quick guide.  However, it is just one of the examples of how powerful the understanding of system 1 and 2 thinking can be. Therefore, if you start accepting that we are all irrational human beings. Driven by our subconscious. You start to understand how you can influence behaviour without changing minds.


Overview of the two decision-making systems in our brain

      System 1 System 2
Unconscious reasoning Conscious reasoning
Judgments based on intuition Judgments based on examination
Processes information quickly Processes information slowly
Hypothetical reasoning Logical reasoning
Large capacity Small capacity
Prominent in humans and animals Prominent only in humans
Unrelated to working memory Related to working memory
Effortlessly and automatically With effort and control
Unintentional thinking Intentional thinking
Influenced by experiences, emotions and memories Influenced by facts, logic and evidence
Can be overridden by System 2 Used when System 1 fails to form a logical/acceptable conclusion
Prominent since human origins Developed over time
Includes recognition, perception, orientation, etc. Includes rule following, comparisons, weighing of options, etc.

Would you like to know more?

If you want to master the science of influence yourself, you could consider enrolling in our two-day course Behavioural Design at our SUE | Behavioural Design Academy. You can download the Academy brochure. Or maybe you currently have a challenge in which you want to influence choice or change behaviour. Please, take a look at our Behavioural Design Sprint. It might be the answer you’re looking for.

Or could be you just would like to get to know us a little better. We happily introduce ourselves here.