It is the nature of our cognitive systems that we alternate between heuristics and deliberative reasoning. Heuristics are reasoning 'shortcuts' based on patterns that help speed up decision making in familiar circumstances. Deliberation takes more attention and energy, but it can go beyond immediately available information and enables complex computations, comparisons, planning, and choice.
This 'dual mind' theory—as brought to popular attention in books by Kahneman,3 Rugg,7 and Evans1—explains why the heuristics associated with evolution for survival in a dangerous hunter-gatherer world are also responsible for causing systematic biases in our judgments. Says Kahneman: "Jumping to conclusions is efficient if the conclusions are likely to be correct and the costs of an occasional mistake acceptable. Jumping to conclusions is risky when the situation is unfamiliar, the stakes are high and there is no time to collect more information." In such circumstances, intuitive errors are probable, and hence, deliberation is worth the investment.
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