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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thinking: Post#3 - System 2

System 2 is our deliberate brain. It controls outbursts, rants, and irrational responses. Unfortunately, when we get tired, worn down, or otherwise overwhelmed with work, stress, and mental effort, System 2 yields to its more biased, quick-tempered, and illusive sibling, System 1. Thus, willpower is a limited fount. The author offers a number of simple but powerful experiments to show how “ego depletion” affects System 2 when it’s overwhelmed or tired. Literally our ego is worn down, then we default to such things as deviating from our diet, trying to impress others by overspending, reacting aggressively, and making poorer decisions. Fascinating research shows that System 2 (cognitive thinking) requires more glucose. Experiments with judges show that they are more likely to grant parole (65% of the time) after they have a meal than when they’re hungry (35% of the time)! System 1 is like a nagging child at the supermarket and System 2 like a parent who finally just gives in and says, “Fine.”

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