Slow Thinking Is Wise Thinking

Nobel Prize-winning psychological scientist Daniel Kahneman called US President Barack Obama a “slow thinker.” That may sound like an insult, but it’s actually high praise.

In his latest book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman describes two types of thinkers. System 1 thinkers operate automatically and quickly, with little sense of voluntary control, and little or no effort. System 2 thinkers, however, allocate attention to mental activities that demand it, and they also tend to be more deliberative.

Kahneman describes President Obama as a System 2 thinker. “He is a slow thinker. He deliberates,” Kahneman said in this CNN article. “He doesn’t follow his gut immediately. He considers things. He is very thoughtful.”

For more on this topic, watch this video of a discussion between Daniel Kahneman and Christiane Amanpour on CNN or Inside the Nobel Laureate’s Studio from the 20th Annual APS Convention. Kahneman, Daniel. (2003). A Psychological Perspective on Economics American Economic Review, 15 (1), 219-168 DOI: 10.1257/000282803321946985


Daniel Kahneman is not a psychological scientist has he is referred to here. He is a behavioral economist. They are related, but not the same. It is more akin to sociology and economics, though it employs psychological insights.