Fight the system!

Five Helium-III factories can process five tons of Helium-III in five minutes. How long would a hundred Helium-III factories need to process one hundred tons of Helium-III?

This question is part of the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) created by Shane Frederick in 2006. Although he didn’t specify the type of factory. The CRT aims to measure someone’s tendency to ignore their gut feeling and reflect to get to the correct answer. This answer is a the bottom of this article.*

Slow thinking, fast acting

Daniel Kahneman, in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, describes two systems of thinking. System 1, the quick and intuitive system, allows you to make decisions based on experience and limited information. This system is in action when you’re driving a car, for example. System 2, the slow and ponderous system, is needed for analytical problem solving. This system deals with difficult logical problems. The question at the top of this article is also described in Kahneman’s book. It is a good test of how in control we are of our thinking. How well can we fight our System 1 thinking when we should be using System 2?

I experience the psychology underpinning these principles in my games of Governor. Players that are able to utilize their System 2 thinking, even in high-pressure and fast-paced situations, come out on top.

For example, in the most recent session, a participant described their conflict with another team. I’ve named them Mars and Titan, so it’s easier to read:

“There was one moment where Mars and I were discussing about this one region that we both wanted to claim. Mars had nothing to convince us that they should have the region. When negotiations broke down, they tried to team up with another group to force us to revoke our claim. In that moment, I had to think quickly, analyze the sudden turn of events, and then decide what to do. “

In the end, Titan went over to the third party and explained what was happening. Titan convinced them it didn’t benefit them at all to join the initiative to bully them out of the region. The thirds party agreed. Mars left the region for Titan to claim. Moreover, Titan decided to give Mars a second chance:

“Even though I felt a bit betrayed by their behavior, I did not want to simply claim the region without discussing it with Mars. I gave them some resources in return for their consent. In that sense, I tried to be as diplomatic as possible in a tricky situation, so that was interesting looking back now.”

Introducing Governor Next Level

This insight forms the basis of Governor Next Level: a training in personal effectiveness. A similar thing happens when players of Governor reflect on their performance. Who attacked their fleet? Why did Mercury vote for that law? What was Pluto thinking? For most players it takes a day or two before the true reflection starts.

But if you can unlock that level of reflection during the game, you can be much more effective. If we can harness the power of our slow thinking while being in a dynamic, high-pressure environment, we can potentially achieve much more than we ever thought.

If you want to see how Governor can help you train your thinking and become more effective in negotiating, relationship building and problem solving, visit our Pricing page and request a quote. Or send a e-mail to for more information.

*The answer is five minutes. If this still boggles your mind, I’d recommend reading Frederick’s paper on the CRT. Or send me a message and I’ll happily explain!

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