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The bipolarity of the human mind

By Edited Nov 2, 2016 0 0

The human mind is extraordinary. It has so much potential, but as with most of everything, in order to unlock potential, you have to think, analyze and summarize. You have to do a in depth research. You have to understand its inner working, set goals, create a road map and start following it at the pace you feel comfortable. 

This is yet another article related to Daniel Kahneman's amazing book "Thinking Fast and Slow", and the way that he describes the fictional System 1 and System 2 of the brain.

To quote the author :

System 1 runs automatically and System 2 is normally in a comfortable low-effort mode, in which only a fraction of its capacity is engaged. System 1 continuously generates suggestions for System 2: impressions, intuitions, intentions, and feelings. If endorsed by System 2, impressions and intuitions turn into beliefs, and impulses turn into voluntary actions. When all goes smoothly, which is most of the time, System 2 adopts the suggestions of System 1 with little or no modification. You generally believe your impressions and act on your desires, and that is fine—usually. When System 1 runs into difficulty, it calls on System 2 to support more detailed and specific processing that may solve the problem of the moment. System 2 is mobilized when a question arises for which System 1 does not offer an answer, as probably happened to you when you encountered the multiplication problem 17 × 24.

Basically, System 1 is what you use all the time. It is like a cache of reactions to the outside influence. You did it once, stored the cause and the effect provided by System 2, and you reuse that effect for every similar cause.

System 2 is the “mental arithmetic”. It is slow and uses up more memory to process. That is why, in everyday life you need System 1 to handle the fast processing, otherwise you would end up rethinking (reprocessing) every decision in your life over and over again (using the slow System 2).

Tech Human brain
So both Systems of your brain are constantly fighting for the limited mental resources. As an example (also from the book), try taking a walk with a friend and ask him/her to calculate 17x24. The friend will most probably slow down if not stop completely. At that moment, System 1 was driving the walk, and all the resources went from System 1 to the mental processor which is System 2, thus leaving System 1 almost without resources.

Or if you are at an interview (as described in this article) and you are trying to project a great impression and also do some calculations at the same time.

This can be avoided if one of the task becomes more or less automated. To exemplify this, let's talk about public speeches. It is said, that when holding a public speech, most people have no idea what to do with their hands. In a public speech class you would probably learn to just keep your hand relaxed close to you body. So, if you are new to public speeches, you will either concentrate on holding your hand inline with the body and lose focus of the speech, or you will focus on the speech and have your hands all over the place. It has been observed though, that after some time of doing both tasks, the task of controlling the hands becomes a habit, thus you are again using the majority part of your mental resources focused on the speech.

Also, on the topic of System 1 and System 2, you can read on in this article about the Bat and Ball riddle. It seems this particular riddle has took the internet by storm in the last few months.

It is a really fascinating topic to me and will surely continue writing about it in the future.

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