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Thinking Fast & Slow Summary [Beware: Powerful Theory]

Thinking Fast & Slow Summary [Beware: Powerful Theory]

Here you will find a clear summary of the book Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman. You may have been looking for a download or a PDF of this book, but this is such a tough book that just reading the summary could be a serious consideration.

Thinking Fast And Slow, what is it all about?

Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman, author of ‘Thinking Fast And Slow’, showed in his studies that the first tendency of people is to ‘mismatch’. Even if you’ve given them a solution that will work 100%, they will say, “No, no, that’s not going to work.”

In practice, intelligent people will have the control to just be open to new advice, but it is important to realize that acceptance is not our first impulse from the brain.

It is easier to keep your own beliefs than to admit a different opinion or change your own belief …

Once you understand this theory, you can do very powerful things: you will almost never automatically mismatch again and you can, for example, use reverse psychology to take advantage of other people’s tendency to mismatch.

The complete book summarized

Daniel Kahneman argues that our thinking can be divided into two systems and he goes back to this constantly throughout the book. Below you will find all the information that is told about this in the book:

System 1 System 2
Fast thinking. Slow thinking.
React fast. Think first.
The first reaction or first choice is almost always negative, uncontrolled, or not nice. When you wait, you have more choices to respond.
Starts automatically. Concentration is needed to start system 2. When the concentration is gone again, the activities of system 2 are also immediately interrupted.
Sees simple relationships between things. Calculates multiple relationships and variables: brain power needed.
Associations (‘The capital of Belarus is Minsk’). Intelligence.
Prejudice. Self control.
Judgment. Analysis.
Instinctively. Thinking logical.
Emotional. Rational.
Starting from own frame of reference / memories / expertise. Being open to new stimuli.
Can provide system 2 with information that system 2 can work with. Can control / integrate system 1. It makes non-automatic things automatic temporarily. For example, it can alert you to scan for white hair at the airport to find your grandfather and grandmother sooner. Also think of a teacher who says: “Pay attention now because I am now going to explain something important.”
In order to achieve goals, system 1 really needs to be controlled by system 2 to be pointed out whether or not to see or do things automatically.
Little effort. Mental activities that require a lot of effort.
Efficient but not effective. Not efficient, but effective.
Can multitask. They are simple tasks. Can’t multitask. You cannot listen to two stories at the same time and follow everything.
Some steps: 40 + 40 = 80. Series of steps and memorizing them as well, such as multiplication: 23 x 16:
you could do 10 x 23 first, for which you have to memorize 230. Then 6 x 23, for which you calculate 138. Then you have to add that by 230, which you have remembered all this time. Total: 338.
Always ready. Must be turned on before it can be used. To do the math above, you have to decide: “OK, now I’m going to do my best and use my brain.”
If you are an expert in something, system 1 can easily track down hard to detect things. Because it has been trained and is now instinctual. System 2 had already been used while teaching that expertise.
  • Sees depth in objects.
  • Orientates to the source of a sudden sound.
  • Pulls a face when seeing an inferior image
  • Complete the sentence “Butter, cheese and…”.
    Detects hostility in a voice.
    Can tell what kind of person it could be after designating any person.
  • Brace yourself for the start of a race.
  • Focusing attention on the voice of a particular person in a crowded room full of people talking.
  • Search the memory to identify a surprising sound.
  • Maintain a faster walking pace than what is normal for you.
  • Determining how appropriate your behavior is in a particular social situation.
  • Fileparkeren.
  • Compare two washing machines to decide which one has the best price / quality ratio.
  • Doing accounting for your business.
  • Checking the validity of an argument.


Thinking Fast and Slow & NLP

  • NLP’s belief is that there is always unconscious and conscious communication. Kahneman’s system also assumes two types of communication: the fast thinking of system 1, which can be seen as unconscious, and the slow thinking of system 2, which can be seen as conscious.
  • System 1 has many characteristics of the unconscious. For example, it can multitask. That is something the unconscious also does according to NLP. NLP makes good use of this by installing more goals, options and suggestions in the unconscious, which then go into effect without you knowingly aware of it.
  • System 2 was described with this example: “Maintain a faster walking pace than what is normal for you.”
    This indicates that if you  want to make a report , and therefore want to adapt yourself to the other, you have to make an effort and that it will not happen automatically. That is partly correct according to NLP, but NLP also assumes a natural rapport in which you unconsciously adapt yourself to the other. Then you do not consciously make an effort for it.
  • NLP speaks of your RAS when you set goals. Your RAS is focused when you set a goal and ensures that from now on you will see your opportunities to achieve your goal. Kahneman explains a similar operation of system 2: it works as a kind of filter through which system 1 notices the right things.
  • A big difference is that Kahneman attributes a number of very negative characteristics to the system 1 comparable to the unconscious, while NLP only looks positively at the forces of the unconscious. In his book, Kahneman pays attention to the uncontrolled, uncalibrated answer that you can give to another person if you think from your own frame of reference and respond immediately. In NLP, grateful use is made of the hidden forces that lie in the reactions of the unconscious, such as the ability to communicate with your own body or the phenomenon that the unconscious is always right when you do not know where a sound came from or who touched you.

What did you find the most special of the studies from Thinking Fast & Slow? Let me know in the comments.

About The Author


Hello! Thanks for reading these articles. My intention is to make happiness as simple and clear as posssible. By the way, excuse my English. I am not a native English speaker since I live in Amsterdam. Much appreciated if you use the comments to make suggestions on my grammar. See ya in another blogpost!