Are your clients as rational as you think?
Perhaps not! This article gives you a brief overview of how we all (including your clients) think.
Have you ever meandered around the supermarket on autopilot, mindlessly picking the items you need (and, if you’re like me, some you don’t) without stopping for even the most fleeting thought about why you buy this jam, but not that jam? Have you ever reflected on how you can arrive somewhere familiar, for example, work, but not really remember the drive that got you there?
Professor Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel laureate and author of the famous book ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ described two distinct ways of ‘thinking’.
System 1 and System 2
System 1 is fast, automatic, intuitive, happens unconsciously, and is driven by things like emotions, biases and heuristics (which are mental rules of thumb). The autopilot shopping and driving mentioned above would be typical System 1 activities.
System 2 is conscious, effortful, slow and deliberate. We feel it happening when the cogs are whirring and we’re having to weigh up the pros and cons of something. It’s hard though, and we don’t like doing it.
Clearly there’s some artistic licence here, and Kahneman himself acknowledges this too:
“System 1 and System 2 are…fictitious characters…there is no part of the brain that either of the systems would call home”.
But the simple framework of System 1 and System 2 is a favourite of mine since it helps us begin to understand the power of the subconscious. The truth is that we tend to over-estimate the control which System 2 has over us. “Nonsense!”, I hear you say, “I’m utterly rational, making solid, well-thought through decisions… right?!”. Hmmm, well, sorry to say this, but for most of us that’s very often not the case. Even big decisions, like which job to take or which house to buy are often driven more by System 1 than we realise. And of course, System 2 provides the most incredible post-hoc rationalisations so that we can perpetuate the delusion that we’re utterly rational.
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Ref: Kahneman, Daniel (2011) “Thinking, Fast and Slow” Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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