Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
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The estimated reading time for this post is 95 seconds
I took the opportunity in June to re-read Daniel Kahneman’s work Thinking Fast and Slow. Kahneman uses storytelling from key points in his career to take the audience on a journey through biases and better decision-making. From a book that is obviously aimed at a consumer audience it has an outsized impact on marketers.
After Thinking Fast and Slow presentations now talk about behavioural economics. What this meant in practice was revisiting the interface of psychological cues and marketing communications to encourage a desired behavioural change – like a purchase. It brought a renewed focus on A/B testing of call to action copy and images based around known consumer biases. The concept of system 1 and system 2 thinking is a useful way of understanding our own decision-making processes.
It also forces us to think about how we market to consumers. Political campaigns often deliberately look to short-circuit deliberative system 2 thinking and tap straight into the raw emotion in system 1 thinking. It is automatic and can be ugly.
This isn’t necessarily a marketing handbook however, it is designed to make the average person more aware of their decision making process. It reminded me of Dan Ariel’s Predictably Irrational.
The key difference is that Kahneman’s work provides more of a learning structure in the book. Ariel is closer to the ‘ain’t it cool’ style of Malcolm Gladwell (though more rigorously researched).
I’d recommend that marketers start on Thinking Fast and Slow at the back. There is summary of the book and then some supporting white papers. Once you have them read then go to the front and work your way through. The reason why I suggest this approach is that marketers use case is different to that of the man in the street (who buys his books from the non-fiction section of the New York Times bestseller list). More book reviews here.