A fantastic video by Veritasium which shows how your brain usually reacts instinctively, because that is more energy efficient that actually working on a challenge.
In the video above, Derek Muller shows us experimental evidence of what is known as System 1 (fast thinking) and System 2 (slow thinking).
It is a concept which I have loved since I originally read Thinking Fast and Slow by Professor Daniel Kahneman, which outlined the results of experiments showing how our brains react when asked to process new information.
Our brains have evolved to the amazing level where they can spot patterns very efficiently, and therefore begin running off memories when they see something they are familiar with. In the book, this is referred to as System 1, which is a very automatic and fast way for the brain to respond. In almost all cases, you won’t even be aware of how you came to a solution, it will just “appear” because it was so easy.
This is much more energy efficient than having to take time and resources to process a challenge each time, which is referred to as System 2 thinking and is much slower but more considered.
Usually, when humans first encounter something new (the example given in the video is learning to tie shoelaces), we need to concentrate in order to learn what needs to be done, execute it and succeed at it. This is very much System 2. However, through repetition and practice, the brain begins to reinforce the patterns of how it worked before, until it is stored in memory and can be done without concentration, almost on auto-pilot (System 1).
The problems arise when the brain tries to solve problems which it hasn’t encountered before using System 1, because they appear similar to something it knows or seems obvious (a gut reaction). In these situations, like the example of the cost of a bat and ball for $1.10 in the video, the brain is tricked into using a shortcut and just feeling like the answer should be correct.
This is also why people can resist new ideas and innovations when they first hear about them.
It is uncomfortable to have to use energy to think through something new and different. It
It requires concentration and resources which the brain would rather not use up. For another example, see this illusion which shows that the brain would rather ignore new information.
And so the easiest thing to do when faced with these new ideas is for the brain to become defensive and say “I’d rather not bother processing those”.
And it is why it is so important that if you are presenting new ideas, make it as simple as possible to understand, so that the people listening need to use as little uncomfortable brainpower as possible.
It might just end up with them realising it’s worth thinking about your new idea in a slower manner.
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