This advice represents a widespread belief that our instincts, our intuitive senses, are the most reliable guides to decisions. It is based on the assumption that instincts are based on prior knowledge and experiences and that our brains integrate all these things to enable us to make quick judgments that tend to be sound.
By looking at the erasures and comparing them with the final answer, they found that 51% changed their answers from wrong to right, 25% from right to wrong, and 23% from wrong to wrong. In other words, when people changed their minds, they were twice as likely to go from wrong to right as from right to wrong.
In fact, the authors point out that research over a period of 70 years provides overwhelming evidence that these ‘second guesses’ are more likely to be correct. So given this clear evidence over a long period of time that second guessing leads to better outcomes, why do people still think that sticking with the first choice is the best option?
Our initial reactions are based on System I thinking that “operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control” and does not engage the higher order thinking skills that are brought in by System 2 which is slower because it “allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations” (Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, 2011, p. 20). Most of the time when confronted with novel problems, we tend to form an initial response based on the quick intuitive System 1 thinking instead of taking the time to engage the slower but more analytical System 2 thinking because it requires less intellectual effort. We tend to use System 2 only when we are forced to do so, even though it gives better results. But when we ‘second guess,’ we are more likely to be using the ore reliable System 2.