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By Samuel Burke
(CNN) – In the United States, two men with two very different approaches to leadership and decision making are vying to become president.
For decades, Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has studied thinking processes and the machinery of the mind.
In his latest book, "Thinking, Fast and Slow,” he lays out a school of psychology that groups people in two different modes of thinkers:
System 1: people with minds operate automatically and quickly with little or no effort, and no sense of voluntary control.
System 2: people with minds that allocate attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it; more deliberative.
In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Kahneman said that he is confident that President Obama is a system 2 thinker.
“He is a slow thinker. He deliberates,” Kahneman said. “He doesn't follow his gut immediately. He considers things. He is very thoughtful.”
Kahneman says the biggest contrast is not between Obama and Romney, but rather between Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush.
“President Bush was proud of acting on his intuition, acting on his gut.”
But Kahneman hypothesizes that Obama and Romney have much more in common than they’d like to admit, at least when it comes to thought processes.
“My guess is that Governor Romney is thoughtful as well, and is slow as well.”
Kahneman’s sense is that on several occasions during his presidency, President Obama has taken so much time to deliberate that it caused his critics to say he’s too slow and dithering.
“People like somebody who acts quickly,” he says. But he adds, “The main thing is they like somebody who does the right thing.”
But if people like a leader who acts quickly, does that mean they end up perceiving quick decisions as being the right ones?
“Not necessarily. In general, I would think that being thoughtful is an advantage over being intuitive. Life is extremely complicated and intuition is not necessarily the best guide to very important decisions.”
So which is it? A quick leader, or a calculated leader?
Kahneman says at the end of the day people do want a leader who will do the right thing, but they also like a particular style.
“And the style they like best is a leader that appears very confident. And part of confidence is speed.”
So a leader must be thoughtful in his or her decisions, but confident enough not to take too much time.
CNN’s Meredith Milstein produced this piece for television.