Category Archives: Professional Studies

What Would Life be Like if we Lived in System 2?

Despite the fact I was aware that my brain is a house full of many rooms that do many different things, I was unaware that unconsciously my brain was making choices for me from either my system 1 or system 2.

David Kahneman (2001) discusses the concept of system 1 and 2 and the fact that we are living the majority of our lives and decisions within system 1. System 1 works automatically and very quickly. We don’t have voluntary control over when we use system 1 (Kahneman, 2001). Whereas system 2 provides analytical and slower processed thinking, more in depth into our real abilities and knowledge (Ranadive, 2017).

Here is an image which I feel displays key words and situations that the two systems work individually but also how they can also relate.

System 2 is activated in situations where System 1 does not have the answer (Kaheman, 2012). A scenario that we looked at in recent lecture in Discovering Maths, the question left me stuck in system 1 for a lot longer than what I would like to admit. it is as follows;

A cup and Teapot set costs £110. The teapot costs £100 more than the cup. How much does the cup cost?

Our first instinct and therefore the answer from our system 1 brain is £10, but this is wrong!

When we use our system 2 brain, we can make sense of the problem we can understand (long-story-short) that the correct answer is £5. (reference lecture notes) I find this concept interesting to look at when considering life decisions. Kruger and Wirtz (2005) discuss the concept that in exams or tests, our first answer comes from system1 – the instinct answer. however, if we then hum and hay about weather to stick with our first or analyse the question more and change it, we are in fact, increasing our chances of getting the answer wrong! Yep- that’s right, even if we think over this answer and dig deep into our brains, when we change the answer we shoot ourselves in the foot. I have been in situations myself when taking exams at school or even when completing the Education numeracy and literacy tests. When I am in doubt about my answer, I have sat before and dictated if I should in fact trust my gut or take a risk and change my answer. Kaplan (1999) says that we should exercise with great caution if we decide to change our answer. I wonder now, how many times my indecisiveness has cost me a mark or two in exams, or even a whole grade!

This concept made me think about how our lives could be lived or the impact it could have on day to day decisions, if we lived at all times in system 1 or all times in system 2. Experiments have been done that show if we are asked to retain a sequence of 7 numbers, told that this is the most important thing to remember (keeping occupied system 2). Then if we are asked questions such as what pudding we would prefer between the healthy fruit salad of calorie filled chocolate cake, we pick the cake. Our system 1 means that we make decisions that are impulse, less thought through and often more selfish (no name, 2012). Alcohol has the same impact also. So therefore, we may live a unhealthier life.

System 1 brains may result in us all making decisions that are not rational, not considerate of other people. How far would our system 1 brain allow us to take it? System 2 would mean that every single decision we make would be thought through, weight up and rationalised of every aspect. How long would bar ques be if we had to consider every single drink there?



Kaplan (1999) p.37 cited in Counterfactual Thinking and the First Instinct Fallacy. Available at: (accessed on 4.11.18) 

J, Kruger and D, Wirtz (2005) Counterfactual Thinking and the First Instinct Fallacy. Available at: (accessed on 4.11.18) 

J, Smith (2017) What is ‘System1’ thinking – and why do you need to learn it? Available at: (accessed o n 4.11.18)

A, Ranadive (2017) What I Learned From ‘Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow’ Available at: (accessed on 5.11.18) 

D, Kanheman (2012) How Thinking Fast and Slow Thinking SHape Perception and Choice. Available at: (accessed on 5.11.18)

D, Kahneman (2012) Available at:,_Fast_and_Slow.pdf (accessed on 8.11.18)

Lots of Resources makes life easier??

We were group 1 and therefore had the most amount of resources. We went back to being like children on Christmas day, so many options we didn’t know what to do with ourselves!

We were asked to create something that would help a student through their first week of university. We could only make from what we were given.

The first task was just to mind map and discuss an idea to present to the rest of the class. We went first and all took turns at saying our own wee bit about our idea – a pin board with a personalised timetable, a map colour co-ordinated with the timetable, reminders of events on and much more. We had the option to so why not make it as big as we could! We received a lot of praise, our idea seemed great and our tutor seemed very happy with the effort we had put in. Then the other groups went. Group 2 seemed to have a similar idea, they were praised but she didn’t seem quite as enthusiastic as she was with us. As the groups went on, there was less praise and less enthusiasm put into the feedback. We assumed she was getting tired of hearing similar ideas.

The next task was to create the idea we had all come up with again. We were reminded that we were to only use the resources we were provided with. We made our pin board and were even able to add on more to what we had initially planned on due to the amount of ‘stuff’ we were given- we even made a small packet with pencils, pens and highlighters. We again presented our idea, we all had a chance to speak and we received brilliant feedback! Again we were showered with praise! – Well done this is amazing, I LOVED what you all did. As the groups went on the praise wasn’t the same as ours. It got to the point where the tutor asked a group to stop, laughed at then even!

This is when it clicked for us – This task has a hidden message.

The other groups didn’t have as much as us, in fact they basically had nothing. We were the rich in society and they were the poor. The lesson was that people can be treated differently because of what or how much they have. We were so excited with our ‘stuff’ that we forgot to realise the others around us and why they were doing so poor, or what seemed to be so poor. We were so unaware that we blamed the tutors rudeness and lack of praise on the fact that we all worked as a group and that she maybe genuinely didn’t like the others!

 facepalm idiot idiots face palm oy vey GIF

We then discussed. How was this task fair? Why didn’t we notice others suffering? Why didn’t we offer our resources – after all we had enough to make a pin board for every student in DUNDEE.

The idea was then reflected to our life’s and how we need to actively make an effort in our classes. There will be children that we come across who have everything they need in life, and how it may be possible that they have been treated very well. BUT the children that have less are in fact the ones that may need our extra attention and praise. After all we could be the one person in their life that is taking notice to their achievements.