The division of labor between system one and system two is problematic. This overall arrangement of the way that humans think results in decision making and judgement errors. According to Kahneman, system one does all the quick thinking. It provides an automatic and unconscious response which can be especially helpful when answering easy or well practiced questions.
For example, when someone is asked their name or their birthday, system one takes almost no time to answer the question. When system one doesn’t have an answer, it will employ the efforts of system two. This system can perform complex tasks, but it also takes more time, effort, and brain power. It forces one to really pay attention. Although system one saves time, the speed leads to inaccurate beliefs. Due to the need to perform quickly, everything that is familiar tends to be automatically believed.
This is problematic because one’s first instinct does not always give the right answer. System two is too lazy and doesn’t bother attempting to sort out these problems. Overall, the separation of system one and system two may save time; however, there are many opportunities for mistakes which is worrisome. Many mistakes occur as a result of behaviors that are determined by unnoticed stimuli. According to Kahneman, these behaviors are caused by priming. Primarily affecting system one, priming is the automatic response of behavior due to the influence of particular stimuli.
This can be helpful because priming saves time by quickly determining what to pay attention to. It makes you pay attention to what is relevant. For example, if you are looking to buy a certain color of shirt, you start to notice that color everywhere because it is prominent in your mind. This is beneficial because it makes it easier to find what you are looking for. Although priming may be helpful by filtering information, it may cause one to pay attention to the wrong things. Additionally, because system one changes its response based on the environment, it may result in different behaviors based on what is around.
These changing behaviors are problematic because they are altered due to stimuli that are unnoticed by conscious thoughts. In addition, if every new situation affects the way people think, their choices may not be completely accurate. This can’t possibly be good for our reasoning and decision making skills. The fact that our behaviors and thoughts change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s the fact that our these things change based on stimuli that are usually unnoticed that is problematic. An example of the way the priming is problematic that is the fact that something as simple as a different smell can change the way that people behave. A study by Holland, Hendriks, and Aarts researched how an unconscious awareness of a clean scent influences cleaning related thoughts and behaviors.
In the study, participants were first exposed to a clean scent while taking an unrelated survey. After they were finished, the subjects were moved to a separate room where they were given a messy biscuit to eat. The study found that compared to the control group, the subjects exposed to the scent had a cleaner table. When the subject were asked if they noticed the clean scent, most had no recollection or awareness that the scent contributed to the study. This study shows that different stimuli can influence system one without conscious awareness which is concerning. According to Kahneman, the whole function of system one is to provide fast responses to everything that comes up in life.
If system one is confused or distracted by simple things, one’s view of the entire world is changed. Every decision is influenced by different ideas which leads to errors in judgement. The fact that people are unaware of these influences is cause for concern.A related phenomenon involves the brain regularly making errors when determining frequency. According to Kahneman, these frequency errors are caused by the availability heuristic which leads one to believe that just because something comes to mind easy, it occurs more often. This means that people are more likely to use information that is readily available to them instead of looking further. On one hand, this heuristic can be helpful because it saves time by allowing people to quickly make decisions. It provides immediate answers to allow for less cognitive strain.
On the other hand, the availability heuristic can be problematic because it leads to errors in judgement due to the influence of emotions, personal experiences, and prevalence in life. People overestimate the probability of an event because it seem more frequent in their lives. For example, if someone hears many stories about lottery winners, they may start to believe that it is more likely to win the lottery than it actually is. As a result, these people would buy more lottery tickets and waste more money. In addition, if something is more frequent in the news it is seen as more frequent in reality which may cause unnecessary public panic.
The media affects our lives so much that it changes our beliefs and our behaviors. It causes people to overestimate the likelihood of events that are merely due to chance and luck. Because system two doesn’t bother to stop and think about the circumstances, it just goes along with what system one believes. A similar problem occurs when people have unrealistic expectations of the time it will take to complete a task.
As stated by Kahneman, these expectations are caused by the planning fallacy which arises when someone is confident in their belief that their task will be completed on time even when they know that related tasks have taken longer. This phenomenon occurs because people are too optimistic when making plans for a project. They truly believe that they will be productive and won’t procrastinate. They believe that their timeline is realistic and optimal; however, this is not the case.
It is almost impossible to make specific plans for a long period of time because you never know what events may arise. People may make plans with friends on a night that they had originally planned to get their work done. Because of these unknown plans and the general laziness of human beings, people almost always underestimate the amount of time it is going to take them to complete a task.
Despite issues regarding one’s own timeline, the planning fallacy is nonexistent when determining plans about other people. We know the timelines of others better than we know our own. When asked when someone else will finish a project, people are relatively accurate because they rely on past experiences to make this decision. This influence of past experiences is lacking when people make plans for themselves. People ignore these experiences or play them off as situational factors rather than actual experience. For example, when someone is asked why they didn’t finish their project earlier, they will use an excuse such as they had other more important plans. These may be valid excuses or people might just be lazy, but people always fail to take into account that things always come up.In addition, when predicting completion times, neither optimistic or pessimistic predictions are accurate.
A study by Buehler, Griffin, and Ross, found that when people estimate the amount of time it will take them to finish a task, they are too optimistic. To prove this, student participants were asked to predict when they will finish their thesis if everything goes as well as possible and if everything goes as poorly as possible. As a result, it was found that neither of these predictions were reliably accurate. In reality, these students took much longer than both of their timelines.
Everyone likes to hope for the best. People like to think that they will get their work done whenever they have free time, but usually they end up just waiting until the last minute. On the bright side, we are good at making deadlines. We may procrastinate getting our work done when we should be getting it done; however, we always get it done when it needs to be done. In general, system one and system two help people to function properly but can lead to errors in judgement. Our brain makes mistakes. It is influenced by the environment and makes decisions based on what is readily available.
It has the ability to fix these mistakes; however it does what requires the least amount of effort which is to just go along with our automatic response. This response is usually right; however, when something is unfamiliar, problems are likely to arise. In the big picture, this arrangement seems to work out fine; however, all things considered, there are too many issues for these separated systems to be a good thing.