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Blink

The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

By Malcolm Gladwell
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Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
Synopsis

Blink examines the phenomenon of snap judgments, meaning the split-second decisions we make unconsciously. These snap judgments are important decision-making tools, but can also lead to bad choices and all manner of problems. Blink explains how we can best make use of them.

Key idea 1 of 9

Don’t distrust your intuitive judgments - they can often be superior to your conscious ones.

The human brain relies on two strategies to make decisions in any given situation:

One strategy is to consciously record and process information, weigh the pros and cons, and come to a rational conclusion about the best way to go. This kind of information processing is very slow, and in some situations there’s just not enough time for it.

And so, over the course of human evolution, a second and much faster strategy has developed: quick as lightning, the unconscious makes snap judgments based on gut feelings rather than thorough analysis.

This second decision-making strategy allows the brain to unload some of the strain of its complex thought processes to the unconscious. Beneath the surface, unbeknownst to us, the unconscious part of the brain processes situations in the blink of an eye and makes decisions about the best course of action.

Many people tend to only trust their conscious judgments and are uneasy about decisions based on their feelings or intuition. However, it turns out that snap decisions are frequently far superior to those made after a thorough analysis.

As examples, consider that there are tennis experts who can intuitively predict when a player will serve a fault, although they are unable to pinpoint exactly why. And there are art experts who can spot a forged piece of art at first glance just because they have an odd feeling and can only rationally explain their snap judgment later.

In many situations, there are patterns and regularities that the unconscious recognizes faster than the conscious and logical mind. It’s precisely in these moments that we should trust our snap decisions.

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