Thinking fast and slow chapter 9: Answering an easier question

This chapter is key to understand Kahneman’s biases model. In a nutshell:

We do have feelings and intuitions about everything that interests us. When facing a difficult problem,instead of really trying to solve it we substitute the original problem for an easier one, a problem for which we do have an intuitive answer, we solve the simpler problem but we think that we have found an answer for the original one.

For example, when having to decide in a political election who is best suited to rule the country -a difficult problem indeed- we substitute it with a simpler problem: whose face do I find more trusting/attractive/authentic. System 1 finds a  answer to that simpler problem and we vote for the most trusting/attractive face, thinking that we found an answer for the conundrum of who is best suited to govern the country.

A very elegant experiment in which this effect is demonstrated shows how a correlation between dates and happiness is generated or not depending on the order of the questions. If a group of students is asked how happy their life is and next how many dates they have in the last month, no correlation shows up. But if they are asked about their love life first the correlation emerges.

The chapter ends with a table stating what system 1 usually does.

Let one of our next year resolution be: may I be aware when I’m substituting a complex question for a simpler one.

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