What does Focus Collegiate have in common with a Nobel Prize Winner? System 2 Thinking

Psychologists Keith Stanovich and Richard West refer to two systems in the mind, System 1 and System 2.

• System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control.
• System 2 allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration.[1]

Nobel Prize Winning Economist, Daniel Kahneman expounds on these systems in his Thinking Fast and Slow, the 2012 winner of the National Academies Communication Award for best creative work that helps the public understanding of topics in behavioral science, engineering and medicine.[2]

System 1 thinking involves instantaneous decisions making and “fight-or-flight” cortisol inducing snap judgments. Impulse buying is the example of System 1 decision making that most marketers try to tap into. System 2 thinking, on the other hand, is driven by deliberation and logic. It is “the conscious, reasoning self that has beliefs, makes choices, and decides what to think about and what to do.”[3] It’s the decision-making process we tend to use when making big decisions such as which college to attend.

At Focus Collegiate we coach for System 2 decision-making. We touch on this approach in an earlier blog post entitled Success Depends on Student Buy-In. Here’s How We Get It.

In other words, we use the positive emotional attractors of student-defined goals and acknowledging the significance of student dreams to create learning agendas that bring students into a state of sustainable System 2 thinking. We’re right up there with the Nobel Prize winners: agency, choice, and concentration!

Understanding how a person thinks certainly makes it easier to provide them with appropriate support, but the one thing that makes it all work is the trusting, resonant relationships our coaches create with their students. Findings from contemporary neuroscience increasingly underscore the importance of such relationships in influencing the development of the brain and nervous system. 

Resonant leadership in the workplace increases employee retention and productivity; similarly, resonant relationship in coaching uses emotional intelligence, hope, mindfulness, and compassion to create the kind communication rapport that helps students reduce stress and gives them the time, space, and comfort they need to consider and explore their decision-making processes and responses ultimately turning reactivity to proactivity.

[1] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/kahneman-excerpt-thinking-fast-and-slow/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow

[3] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/kahneman-excerpt-thinking-fast-and-slow/

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