Why innovation?: Do you see the gorilla?

Mette F Johansen
February 21st, 2016

This article is more than 7 years old.

The agony of decisions

Every day we make decisions on what to do, buy, eat, hear and believe. Most people are convinced that their decisions are rational and based on facts or personal preferences, but it is all an illusion. The truth is that our brains assume and build illusions to help us survive.

Think fast, fast, slow
We judge people, companies, services and solutions faster than we are able to comprehend. Our brains start working before we even notice it and make it easy for us to choose whether to trust someone or not and to buy one product rather than another.

But sometimes you need to pay attention – to invest some time and resources – in order to truly see and understand your choices and make the right decisions.
The American-Israeli psychologist and Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman defines these two ways of thinking as system 1 and system 2 – the fast and slow thinking systems. He argues that both systems are crucial for our survival. And not knowing when to use which system could signal your death.

It’s all an illusion
Kahneman’s comprehensive studies show that we are irrational and build illusions around our decisions. He explains that if we were to pay attention to everything, we wouldn’t function normally.

Our brain needs to assume things and build on that in order to function. So when you hear a loud sound of something falling, you run for cover – otherwise you might die.

In 1999, Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons ran an experiment called ‘The Invisible Gorilla’. They had numerous people watch a video of people playing basketball and had them count the passes between the people with white t-shirts. Only 50 percent noticed the gorilla that walked across the screen – beating its chest.

Do you believe me? Check out the video here!


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