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The body's role in system 1 and system 2 thinking

Some of our decisions and responses are made after systematic thinking, some are made quickly and intuitively.


Two Israeli researchers, Tversky and Kahneman, one of whom, Kahneman, received the Nobel Prize in Economics for his research in this field, characterized these two modes of thinking in series of studies.

Kahnman and Tversky called one of the modes of thinking System 1. System 1 is a fast, intuitive system that many times involves volatile emotions. System 2 thinking is a slower, more rational and systematic system.

System 1 can:

  • Catch a ball as it is thrown at us.

  • Notice that an object is at a greater distance than another object.

  • Position the source of a particular sound.

  • Complete simple expressions, for example the phrase "war and…"

  • Disgust when seeing a terrifying image

  • Solve very simple arithmetic problems, for example 2 + 2 =

  • Read text on a bulletin board

  • Drive a car on an empty road

  • Produce a good chess move (if you are a chess master)

  • Understand simple sentences

  • Perform a military encounter exercise that has been practiced many times, e.g.

System 2 can:

  • Do a physical and mental preparation before starting a sprint

  • Look in the audience for a woman with gray hair

  • Retrive a poem from memory

  • Move much faster than usual

  • Move much slower than usual

  • Determine the suitability of a particular behavior for a social environment

  • Count the number of times a letter is repeated in a particular text

  • Determine the price / quality ratio of two washing machines

  • Determine the validity of a complex logical logic

  • Solve the equation 17 × 24

Most are not aware of the use they make of System 1 thinking, a thinking system that is unsuitable for making complex decisions that require judgment. This is especially evident in our area of ​​expertise - emotional regulation in extreme situations. Fatigue contributes to system 1 thinking.


Is System 2 thinking always better?

Seemingly, there are few instances where we, in modern society, should prefer system 1. System 2, a system of logical, systematic, rational thinking, seems to be the system we should use. But the emotion regulation we have been teaching for emergency workers remind us that this is a partial perspective, there are many situations in which we rely on system 1 - mainly because of the speed. Can system 2 thinking work at system 1 speeds?


Not only security forces, but also HAZMAT teams, firefighters and athletes fear that some mindfulness procedures will cause them to lose their ability to react quickly. The correct awareness procedures allow for the extraordinary, fast, accurate use of correct thinking that exemplifies chess masters.


An appropriate, complex response of the thinking system depends on the repetitive practice of physical and cognitive action schemas.



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