While our System 2 mind works intentionally to find the correct or best answer, our System 1 mind is constantly assessing the environment, looking for threats, cues, and change. System 1 doesn't have any intention and no agenda other than awareness.
It's impossible to not know what System 1 thinks about your environment. It supports your well-being by looking for danger, putting things into categories, and looking for causality. It's good at calculating averages because it's tuned to detect normality. However, it doesn't always do a good job of adding things up. (Think about it next time you leave the store with more than you intended to buy.)
When System 2 is distracted, stressed, or just unable to find an answer, it may substitute a System 1 assessment for the real answer.
I may not have figured out the real answer, but I have a bias.
The worst part is that these substitutions often feel good. We are proud of ourselves because we have a hunch. Unfortunately, the strength of coherence (this is what makes sense to me) is driven more by confirmation than doubt. We may be using the wrong information to evaluate our judgement, but System 1 doesn't discriminate based on quality of the data. It just wants to 'feel sure.'
When we have a hunch, we want to look around and make sure that we aren't substituting environmental cues for a rational decision. Also watch for two other pitfalls:
- Intensity matching is substituting values across dimensions, as when we think, "Joe is such a smart guy, he must be a good driver." Sometimes all you have to do is say it out loud to hear the disconnect.
- Mental shotgun is when you let information that's irrelevant influence your decision. The comfort and elegance of a new-car showroom doesn't really indicate how well-designed a car will be, but... it sure creates a good impression. Think Jaguar.