【Monthly Reading】Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and Slow By Daniel Kahneman

Book review by Qing Zhao

Have you ever had the feeling that you can trust someone even though you do not know them at all? Does your intuition tell you that they will be successful even if you do not know anything about their background? You do want to know why this happens?

In the book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” the author (Daniel Kahneman) gives us some answers! 

1. Find Alternative question to Replace the originals.

If we find questions hard to answer, we can look for an alternative way of phrasing them. There needs to be something in the second question that matches the criteria of the original question. An alternative question helps people to make connections and makes the question ease to answer. 

For example, if we ask students a leading question such as “What is your experience of World Culture?” The question will be hard for students to understand and answer. The topic of world culture is too big and vague. If we reframe the question to: “How has a religious belief (or lack thereof) affected your daily life during the outbreak of COVID-19?”. This will be easier for students to answer as the question is very specific and connects directly with their experience of daily life. 

Secondly, the alternative questions match the theme of the original question, because they both relate to life influenced by something imposed on them during a specific period of time. 

2. Something in the faraway distance in perspective looks bigger than it actually is – replacement judgement

Our judgement will be influenced by our perception of a question and. We are not able to answer a question itself. What we are actually answering is the degree of emotional response to the question

If we ask students how many books they have read, we should also ask them if they are happy with what they have read. For students who do not enjoy reading, the first question reminds them of the painful experience of the reading. The negative perception will make them give a negative answer to the second question. Therefore, knowing background information about the students is very important. This links to the third point.

3. Emotional stimulation: we accept it because we like it

This is like differentiated learning. Students have different backgrounds and different learning capabilities. When we make assessments according to their level of learning capabilities, they can easily see their progress and gain confidence as they solve problems successfully. When I teach students about the different categories of publications, I tailor my questions based on the background information I have on the students. For students who lack the relevant information, my questions are more about “what” and for students who have the information and can accept my content quickly, my questions will be more “why” based.

The book shows us know why this phenomenon exists, which can help us to understand how to communicate more effectively with our students and others.