System 1 and 2 Thinking

Humans process information quickly using heuristics, but take time to analyze more complex decisions.

Complex or difficult decisions take time and thought to analyze. This is system 2 thinking. You can use mental models in your system 2 decision processes to make better decisions. Make a list of relevant mental models, or just revisit this site to review models when you have a difficult decision to make.

It is a huge waste of time and energy to analyze every decision. Imagine if you spent the same amount of time deciding whether to stop and gas up your car as you would take to decide which house to purchase. Analysis paralysis would leave us completely non-functional. This is where system 1 thinking takes over: For many common decisions, we use internal heuristics or rules of thumb, to process information and make a quick decision. The downside of this is these rapid decisions are subject to biases we have accumulated.

One way to combat bias, and make better quick decisions, is to incorporate some of the more important mental models into your system 1 cognitive processes. To do this, you have to practice applying those models to decision-making scenarios. Use hypotheticals or apply them to past decisions. As you do this more, you’ll notice that you can analyze situations through these mental models more rapidly. Eventually they will become second nature and part of your system 1 thinking.

Faster Than Light