System 1 Good; System 2 Bad. Baah! Baah!


We all know about System1 and System 2, don’t we? It’s all about the unconscious and conscious bits of our brain… and System 1 is ‘good’ (fast and efficient) while System 2 is ‘bad’ (slow and clunky). Right? Not quite…System 1 is actually about the implicit mind, and the implicit mind is all about automaticity: the stuff we process without thinking. System1 is below awareness, but not below consciousness, which means we don’t actually need to bypass the conscious mind to reach it; all we need to do is to stop people thinking. So to reach System 1 we need methods that are indirect – that tap into unintentional and uncontrolled responses, not thought-through ones. And is that necessarily good? Yes, very good, because that gives us access to the implicit mind, but it’s not a replacement for System 2 approaches, just a complement. Fact is, the two systems live in the same brain, which is why it’s very hard to make sense of System 1 without System 2, and it’s actually the contrast and comparison between System 1 and System 2 outputs that provides the richest insight.

by David Penn (Conquest)

Managing Director, Conquest (United Kingdom)



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