“What’s 2 + 2?”
You can’t help but think of the answer instantly. Your mind throws the number “4” on your thought screen. It’s actually impossible to not think of the answer here, unless you haven’t learnt to count to ten.
The answer is almost like a reflex. It was an instance of fast thinking. In fact, you don’t even need to consciously think about it. It just happens to you. This is the result of what scientists call reflexive brain.
Now if I ask you, “What’s 38 multiplied by 27?”
For most of you, except if you’re a math wizard, your brain goes blank. It doesn’t give you any instant answer. You’ll have to take a pause and calculate the answer with some efforts, and if you’re like me you won’t be able to do it without pen and paper. Here you have to involve a part of your brain which is known as the reflective brain. You experience a slow mode of thinking as you proceed through a sequence of steps to solve this multiplication problem.
Reflexive brain is quick and it tends to jump to conclusion. Reflective brain is much slower, requires effort, it’s logical and, as we’ll see later, less prone to error.
Daniel Kahneman, a nobel laureate who is also known as the founding father of modern behavioural economics, in his book Thinking Fast and Slow, has termed these two modes of thinking as System 1 (reflexive) and System 2 (reflective).