Ever had one of those movements where you walk around the house looking for something, only to realise you have absolutely no idea what we were looking for in the first place?

Believe it or not that is your zombie brain in action, or as Dr Lewis terms it your ‘System I’ (‘I’ for impulse) brain. Your ‘zombie’ or impulse brain operates on autopilot in a rapid manner with no awareness of what is going on ‘behind the scenes’. This starkly contrasts with the reflective brain (System ‘R’) that works at a slower pace to consciously work out a solution to the challenge, or decision at hand.

‘Impulse: Why we do what we do without knowing why we do it ‘ is a surprisingly easy-to-read insight into how your zombie brain affects your decision making (or should I say lack of decision making). Dr Lewis recounts tales of his personal experiences with System ‘I’ and System ‘R’ thinking along with media examples of when system ‘I’ and ‘R’ thinking goes right or horribly wrong. Impulse is so well written that it  does a fantastic job of making somewhat technical ‘brain-related-stuff’ (that’t totally a science term there) very easy to comprehend. Looking at system I thinking in everything from the teenage brain, to overeating, and your zombie brain in love, Dr. Lewis has given bite sized easy to comprehend overviews on all areas. There are even a few quizzes and tests to keep you actively engaged in the reading process, and allow you to learn a little bit about your own impulses. 

My key interest in this book is looking at how impulse affects our decision making while shopping. Chapter ten ‘The Buying Impulse- The How and Why of What We Buy’ describes how the moment we enter the a store (and in some cases even before we enter the store) marketers have targeted and trained our zombie brains to buy on impulse. From the obvious tricks, like store lay out (milk and bread at the back) and check out chocolate goodies, to the less obvious factors like lighting, heating, and humidity, your zombie brain has a party every time you head to the shops.

This book is an easy to digest look at how to understand your system ‘I’ and ‘R’ thinking, identify your susceptibility to risky behaviour, and create awareness of your impulsive thinking (or non-thinking) and I would recommend it to anyone regardless of their level of understanding of brain function or psychology.

For a book I purchased on impulse using my zombie brain it was definitely a successful outcome!

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