From a very tender age, we have been told to think-by our parents, elders, teachers but what is it exactly? Is it a complicated process or just instinctive? Can we train ourselves to be a better thinker or is it a part of our DNA? There are multiple such questions revolving around this unique human ability.
Thinking, as defined by the Dictionary, is the process of considering or reasoning about something. It is the action of using one’s mind to produce thoughts, opinion or judgement marked by use of intellect.
Now let us look at a mathematical problem which is quite “simple”!
A school bag & a water bottle costs Rs 100/-The School Bag costs Rs 70/-more than the Water Bottle. How much does the water bottle cost? Answer is Rs 30/- ….Right?
No…It is not!!
Daniel Kahneman, a Noble Prize Winner in Economic Sciences in 2002, attributes why we commit certain errors while problem-solving or making judgements & how we can improve ourselves.
According to his research findings, our thinking behavior is dependent on 2 Systems in our brain. System 1 is impulsive, automatic & intuitive. System 2 is conscious, analytical & deliberate. Both systems put together, helps us to take certain type of decisions better. System 1 operates without our conscious control. It starts spontaneously & stops you from using System 2 of your brain. It is a by-product of our evolutionary past which was tuned to take quick action or decisions.
Let’s go back to the “simple “mathematical problem. If your answer was 30, then your answer was determined by System 1 without taking the help of System 2. You were fast & automatic but not correct. If you think & delve a little more into this problem you will get the correct answer. The right answer is Rs 15/- which is the cost of the water bottle! Please solve it mathematically to arrive at the right answer.
Our brain, by nature, is lazy. It has a tendency to use minimum energy & time to engage on a decision making process. It wants to shut shop quickly. Therefore, many a times System 1 wants to arrive at a conclusion without taking the help of System 2, as asking for help from System 2 will result in using more energy & time. System 2 does more analytical thinking, focus on the logical aspects & controls our overall intelligence.
According to Kahneman, System 1 generally rules in such events when (a) we want to solve a problem instantaneously b) we are lazy to probe deeper c) we are impulsive & want to conclude in a super-fast mode.
In this case System 1 perceived that the maths problem is much simpler than it truly appeared. It made the incorrect assumption without calling System 2 to for help or in understanding & solving the problem. It is called by Daniel Kahneman as the “Law of Least Effort”. The problem was over-simplified by System 1 so no effort was made by System 1 in activating System 2. He emphasizes that System 2 is absolutely vital when we have to take some important decisions.
If you got the answer to the problem (as Rs 15/-) in the first attempt then kudos…You are putting your System 2 thinking to good use. You are a “Complete Thinker”.
Next time, don’t limit your thinking…complete it by using both your systems
About the Author:
Shivaji Mohinta is the Country Head of Greenlam Industry Ltd & a certified Life Coach. He writes on real-life business lessons, personal transformation with mindset shifts, behavioral lessons for success especially for young professionals & start-ups & powerful habits for an achiever. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mobile: 8527535691/9437388003
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