Omniquest Book Investigates Thought Processes and Responses

Omniquest presentations hosted standing room only crowds.

Over 200 Northwood University Florida students recently gathered to learn more about the inspirations behind Presidential Medal of Freedom and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow.

In the 2011 volume, Kahneman, an Israeli-American psychologist and winner of the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, reveals the results of years of research relating to the contrast between an instinctive, emotional and immediate train of thought and a slower method involving more introversion and deliberation.

Focusing on a fast, innate and responsive train of thought described as “System 1” and a slow, deliberate and logical response time known as “System 2,” the book investigates assumptions associated with each, and references years of academic research indicating that too much emphasis is placed on human judgment as opposed to factual information.

The seminar began with a presentation from Adjunct Professor Chris Nippert which introduced the background of neuroscience and the impact of the unconscious (System 1) brain on human behavior and decision making. “The takeaway from learning neuroscience and cognitive psychology is that by understanding how the unconscious brain impacts behavior and decision making, we are able to better understand the disciplines of Management, Economics, Marketing, Sales and Negotiation,” said Nippert. “The concept here is the fact that our unconscious brain is designed to make us overconfident, so that we persevere their difficult times w/out giving up. Being consistent also allows our unconscious brain to call on past experiences for guidance in handling present issues. This is the purpose for memory. We make decisions based on patterns learned in the past. The side effect however is overconfidence and not thinking through situations and odds logically. We just go with what we know and mentally block out anything that goes against our beliefs or values,” he added. 

Adjunct Professor Chris Snyder then presented a session in which students were posed with questions in relation to scenarios in which little initial information was provided, thus provoking them to sometimes respond with assumptions based on the original query.  “It was great that we had the opportunity to explore our perceptions and the way we respond to these types of scenarios,” said Snyder. “Kahneman did a great job reminding us that the best thing we can do is improve the System 1 vs. System 2 dynamic so that we can avoid mistakes at all costs."

Adjunct professor Ira Raab then followed by presenting a test he’d designed from his experience as a former New York Supreme Court Justice to detect possible stereotyping while adding the component that the unconscious brain can be risk averse and sensitive to negative information based on biased associations. "Don't judge a book by its cover. Before judging, read the details set forth in the pages," advised Raab of applying the principle to judging those accused of a crime. "Don't form a conclusion merely by hearing or reading the early charges. Before judging the innocence or guilt of the accused, wait until all the evidence is in at the trial," he said.

Adjunct Professor Kyle Tadman then presented evidence relating to the fact that humans tend to bias in favor of their abilities, thus making them overconfident in many areas of their lives.

“A big thank you to our Omniquest Task Team members Chris Nippert, Ira Raab, Chris Snyder, Kyle Tadman and Ed Moore,” said Academic Dean Susan Dennett. “They worked very hard putting this wonderful interactive presentation together, and the students were really engaged.”

Omniquest is a university-wide program, overlaying all other programs, in which a provocative and challenging book is selected each term. The theme of the book is adopted for discussion and analysis during the term on all campuses and within all programs, simultaneously.


ABOUT NORTHWOOD UNIVERSITY

Northwood University is committed to the most personal attention to prepare students for success in their careers and in their communities; it promotes critical thinking skills, personal effectiveness, and the importance of ethics, individual freedom and responsibility.

Private, nonprofit, and accredited, Northwood University specializes in managerial and entrepreneurial education at three full-service, residential campuses located in southern Florida, mid-Michigan and northern Texas. Adult Degree Programs are available in seven states with many course delivery options including online. The DeVos Graduate School offers accelerated, evening and weekend programming in Michigan, Texas and Florida. The Alden B. Dow Center for Creativity and Enterprise provides system-wide expertise in family enterprise, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and new business development. International education is offered through study abroad and in Program Centers in China (Changchun and Wuxi), Malaysia and Sri Lanka.