Decision-making is in constant competition with knee-jerk reactions
A recent study shows that careful decision-making is constantly competing with knee-jerk reactions. Evolution caused humans to become more reasonable, but intuition was not excluded.
A theoretical model that studies ‘fast and slow thinking’ has been developed
Mathematicians at Cornell developed a theoretical model that studies the distinction between human cognitive processing that is quick and intuitive, versus slow and rational.
Multiple authors have published the paper ‘Evolutionary game dynamics of controlled and automatic decision-making’
The model was published in a paper, ‘Evolutionary game dynamics of controlled and automatic decision-making’, in the journal Chaos. The authors are Danielle Toupo and Steven Strogatz while the co-authors are Jonathan Cohen and David Rand.
Yale professor David Rand offered needed assistance
David Rand, an assistant professor of psychology and economics at Yale, who studies the distinction between these two modes of human decision-making, offered crucial assistance.
The study reveals how evolution shaped human thinking
The study provides insight into the interaction between fast and slow thinkers competing for resources in an evolving population and how evolution has shaped human thought.
Thinking modes sometimes coexist and sometimes one is dominant over the other
This study revealed that sometimes thinking fast and slow coexist stably, and sometimes one mode becomes dominant. A cyclical pattern emerged.
‘Sometimes fast thinkers rule the world and sometimes slow thinkers do’
‘Depending on the amount of resources available, we showed that there are times when the fast thinkers dominate the world, and there are times when slow thinkers dominate the world, but a boundary exists where we actually see oscillations between both.’, Toupo said.
Fast and slow thinking can be looked at as emotion and reason
‘A coarser way of describing automatic versus controlled processing is to think of it as emotion versus reason’, Rand said. (See 20 Signs That You Are Emotionally Sensitive)
The study is an effort to understand why are there two modes of thinking
‘In both neuroscience and psychology, there is a great deal of evidence for the existence of these two different kinds of cognitive processes,’ Rand said. ‘What I’m interested in is understanding why they came to be the way that they are.’.
Humans aren’t evolving to solely become rational beings
The model shows that humans aren’t evolving to become solely more rational. Instead, rational thinking goes through boom-and-bust cycles (similar to economy).
‘The Dark Ages in Europe was a bad period for rationality’
As an example of interchanging nature of thinking modes, Rand said: ‘Like the Dark Ages in Europe. That was a bad period for rationality.’ (See Why did Western Europe slip into the dark ages?)
The model supports the idea that we’re entering the age of fast thinking
The model supports the idea that living in a modern world could mean humans are cycling through a period of automatic processing (fast thinking) as it affords people the luxury of not engaging in long-term planning, and instead giving instant gratification.
Study: How Human Society Think?
Compare ways of understanding the evolution of human societies | How Human Society Think?