Self-regulation refers to the ability to manage emotions, behavior, and thoughts. A person is considered self-regulated when one can control disruptive emotions and impulses to pursue long-term goals. Acting out of intuition is counterproductive as it can lead to violent behavior. Therefore, self-regulation enables one to adopt coping strategies on how to react to situations to improve their mood when overwhelmed by emotions. In addition, a self-regulated person proactively anticipates how strong feelings can distort one’s perception and thus adjusts the intensity and frequency of reactions to avoid confrontation.
System-1 and System-2 Thinking Process
System-1 thinking is an automatic process involving a fast response based on intuition and past experiences. This emotional system influences most of our decision-making strategies due to its fast adaptation. System-1 decisions are elicited unintentionally, are impulsive, and involve little effort. For example, a system 1 thinking process will lead shoppers to choose products based on brand names and emotional appeal. The decision is based on the conscious use of existing information to conclude. System-2 thinking is an effortful system involving a slow and calculated decision-making process. It factors in restraint over impulse and requires more effort. A decision-making process that incorporates system-2 thinking requires elaborate thoughts, thus making rational decisions (Pownall & Kennedy, 2019). For example, reverse parking a vehicle in a tight space. The decisions are meticulous and calculated as one navigates the vehicle to avoid crashing into adjacent objects.
Heuristics are cognitive shortcuts for solving novice issues within a short time. Heuristics are used to reduce mental strain in decision-making and make judgments faster. Heuristics are employed when a quick solution is needed in highly stressful and highly uncertain environments. During uncertain situations, the brain relies on these mental shortcuts to make decisions without considering all the information. These mental shortcuts lead to prejudices and stereotypes as the brain categorizes people based on biased information. For example, one walks faster when a hooded person approaches a dark alley. This heuristic categorizes the hooded person as a criminal due to the prejudice that all criminals wear hoods when committing crimes. This is a negative reaction due to the assumption that a hooded person in a dark alley suggests a criminal lurking in the dark.
Dominance structuring is the tendency of humans to give importance to the advantages of a decision while ignoring its disadvantages. The emphasis on the merits of an option helps humans gain confidence that the decision was correct; thus, one can take action toward achieving that goal. Dominance structuring is a negative attribute, enhancing subjectivity and bias in decision-making (Pownall & Kennedy, 2019). For example, the decision to identify as pro-gun control and pro-life is based on subjective bias as one applies the strongest reasoning to explain the option chosen. Dominance structure that leads to the identification as pro-gun control or pro-life does not reflect whether they were the best decisions. The best opportunity to enhance critical thinking is while considering options and not by taking a point of view first.
Cognitive bias is a deviation in interpretation that affects how people reason and process information. The flaw in reasoning tends to favor decisions that support one’s prior beliefs. Cognitive bias is inherent in the system-1 thinking process as decisions are made unconsciously based on previous experiences. However, understanding facts reduce prejudice by resolving an issue and simultaneously self-correcting one’s decision-making process. The increase in expertise and training leads to unbiased decisions due to the increase in information about the case.
Pownall, I., & Kennedy, V. (2019). Cognitive influences shape grade decision-making. Quality Assurance in Education, 27(2), 166–178.