019 – Understanding Your Divided Mind: Kahneman, Haidt and Greene

Argument Ninjas need to acquire a basic understanding of the psychology of human reasoning. This is essential for improving the quality of our own reasoning, and for mastering skills in communication and persuasion.

On this episode I take you on a guided tour of our divided mind. I compare and contrast the dual-process theories of Daniel Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow), Jonathan Haidt (The Righteous Mind) and Joshua Greene (Moral Tribes). The simple mental models these authors use should be part of every critical thinker's toolbox.

My other goal with this episode is to help listeners think more critically about dual-process theories in cognitive science, to better understand the state of the science and the diversity of views that fall under this label.

In This Episode:

- Why it's important to cultivate multiple mental models (2:40)

- Kahneman and Tversky: biases and heuristics (4:20)

- Example: the availability heuristic (5:30)

- Cognitive biases originating from mismatches between the problem a heuristic was designed to solve, and the problem actually faced (8:20)

- Dual-process theories in psychology that pre-date System 1 and System 2 (9:35)

- The System 1 - System 2 distinction (12:00)

- Kahneman's teaching model: System 1 and System 2 as personified agents (18:30)

- Example: "Answering an Easier Question" (19:30)

- How beliefs and judgments are formed: System 1 --> System 2 (22:20)

- System 2 can override System 1 (23:35)

- Assessing Kahneman's model (25:40)

- Introduction to Jonathan Haidt (28:40)

- The Elephant and the Rider model (30:50)

- Principles for changing human behavior, based on the Elephant and the Rider model (33:00)

- Introduction to Haidt's moral psychology (34:00)

- Haidt's dual-process view of moral judgment (34:30)

- Moral reasoning as an adaptation for social influence (35:20)

- Moral intuitions as evolutionary adaptations (36:30)

- Introduction to the moral emotions (six core responses) (37:50)

- Liberal versus conservative moral psychology (39:20)

- The moral matrix: it "binds us and blinds us" (40:30)

- What an enlightened moral stance would look like (41:55)

- Assessing Haidt's model (42:40)

- Introduction to Joshua Greene (46:20)

- Greene's digital camera model: presets vs manual mode (47:20)

- When preset mode (moral intuition) is unreliable (50:52)

- When should we rely on System 2, "manual mode" (52:40)

- Greene's consequentialist view of moral reasoning (53:10)

- How Greene's dual-process view of moral judgment differs from Haidt's (53:30)

- Summary: the value of multiple mental models for critical thinking (55:55)