The Many Modalities of Fast Thinking

image002The intellectual community is increasingly discovering new factors that inform fast thinking. Some factors explored are perceptual filters, value orientations, reference groups and cultural development hierarchies. Out of these new technologies data is being accumulated enabling practitioners to better understand the people they are trying to influence. The most highly evolved marketing technologies are value based and equipped with the means to target specific groups using language that corresponds to their interests. The means exist to manipulate or communicate. They can be used to facilitate consumerism or they can be used to facilitate collective action to save the planet.

One such technology, very relevant to politics is the field of Moral Psychology. Moral Psychologist and Philosopher, Jonathan Haidt (Haidt, 2012) puts forward a set of several fast thinking moral hot buttons some of which we share with other primates and dolphins.[2] For example, when we witness an unfair call at a hockey game we quickly judge it so and are propelled by strong emotion to rectify the unfairness. It is why previous Toronto Mayor Doug Ford's gravy train campaign was so effective. It pushed the fairness cheating moral hot button. Awareness of these ethical hot buttons can explain why negative campaign ads can have a profound effect in some cases and backfire on others.

There are several moral hot buttons that shape our sense of morality and allow our species to govern our lives so we can live as free individuals in groups and create society. As we share many of the moral hot buttons with primates, these moral capacities probably are behaviour patterns encoded in our DNA. They are standard capacities in our species and form part of our collective intelligence. This enables a whole baseball stadium to see an unfair act, judge it and respond with the same indignant outrage.

Pentland shows the snap judgments we are likely to make in an emergency situation tend to be more altruistic than when slow reasoning is in play. This phenomena indicates there is an underlying caring nature rooted in our fast thinking. The ideology we construct using slow thinking subverts a caring attitude. The strong sense of right and wrong that exists in all healthy human beings is addressed more by fast thinking than by slow thinking. Principles ignite passion. We should not underestimate the power of moral principles to shift a group’s behaviour.

This makes the collective intelligence difficult to manipulate. In the end principles rule. Pentland says that our inteligence comes as much from the community as from individuals. (Pentland, 2014, p. 26)

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