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Why and how split-second decisions are made...

  • Oct 9, 2005
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I finally got around to reading a book that's been talked about a lot in blogging circles... Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. I found it fascinating, and it certainly explains a lot of things that I've often wondered about...

The main question here is what happens in those first couple of seconds when you observe something? Without often knowing why, you make some snap judgements that can often be extremely accurate. But when asked to explain why you felt that way, it's nearly impossible to pinpoint the correct reasons. This process of decision-making is called "thin-slicing", and it's the stripping away of various inputs that don't end up affecting the outcome of your decision. If faced with 100 items of information about a decision, it's often just a small handful of items that consistently predict success or failure. The subconscious can often find those points and sift out the pattern without us being able to know why. Experts in a field, due to their exposure to the subject, can thin-slice even more quickly. They stand a better chance of being able to explain the "why" behind it, but even then it's somewhat iffy. Once you're aware of the thin-slicing phenomenon, you can start to accept it as a valid way to aid in the decision-making process.

It wasn't covered in the book, but an application of this is something I've always found irritating in sports broadcasts. You have color commentators taking a play and dissecting the smallest movements in the players, explaining how each one made conscious decisions to shift the hips here or move the arm there. In reality, there's little conscious decisions made at all. The players are really thin-slicing the situation based on their past experiences, and making split-second reactions. The more experience and practice, the better the thin-slicing. All the extraneous action and information is stripped away, and the things that matter are handled instantaneously. If this type of thinking was more well-known, color commentators could be out of a job... :)

Definitely worth reading and pondering. You may not agree with Gladwell, but it will force you to think about things...

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More Blink: The Power of Thinking W... reviews
review by . June 11, 2011
Malcolm Gladwell knows how to tell a story. He captures the little details about people and events that give them meaning and make them interesting, something he used to good advantage in The Tipping Point, and almost as well in this book, Blink.      Blink is a book about snap judgments, first impressions, and thin-slicing experiences. It challenges the conventional wisdom of distrusting our first impressions, and brings up several examples where first impressions are actually …
review by . May 24, 2010
In Blink, Malcom Gladwell discusses human instinct and gut reactions, postulating that people's subconscious snap judgments can be incredibly spot-on, even more so than carefully-considered, researched conclusions. He offers several anecdotal instances that support this theory, such as the story of an experienced tennis coach who knows whether or not a player will double fault the instant he or she begins a serve. The fact that the coach cannot explain how he knows it even though he is consistently …
Quick Tip by . July 23, 2010
Malcom Gladwell gives you a new perspective on every day things. Fads, tv shows, etc. Stuff you would have enjoyed learning in high school.
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
Rethinking how we think about things
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
This is great!
Quick Tip by . June 14, 2010
'blink' thinking: using already established systems of reaction (specific firing patterns) in application to different problems. 'original' thinking: modifying said systems to apply new permutations to said problems. Be wary of context before you decide which modes of thought to use. Maybe don't read this at all.
Quick Tip by . June 10, 2010
Good Book, Great Story, Interesting, catchy, gets you involved every chapter
Quick Tip by . May 19, 2010
Interesting view on how we see things in modern culture.
review by . December 09, 2008
This is one of those really informative books.. and I'd have to say.. I'm not usually keen on reading those as I'd be bored by about the 3rd page.  Gladwell, however, really writes as if he's talking to you and trying to explain what he believes as if he was sitting in front of you.      This book really breaks down decision making and what happens within the first few seconds of being introduced to a new product/person.  It's really intriguing to read a book like …
review by . February 06, 2009
A fascinating study of how the mind works and the effects our gut reactions can have on our decisions, "Blink" hammered Gladwell's point into me in an engaging and entertaining read. The writing is easy but intelligent, and I loved the specific examples and stories, particularly one about the war games. Not only do they help support Gladwell's notion but they're enough to create enjoyable stories by themselves.      The main idea I took away? First impressions aren't everything, …
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Thomas Duff ()
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Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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About this book


Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, is a 2005 book by Malcolm Gladwell which takes a look at why the mind makes decisions in split seconds.

Gladwell focuses on the idea of thin slicing - which is in essence using previous experiences, stereotypes and likes/dislikes to make a snap judgment about a new product or person.

Gladwell offers multiple examples of making quick decisions in a world where we are overwhelmed with information and stereotypes.  He also touches on the fact that these stereotypes are very embedded in our mind, which in turns plays a role in the decisions we make when we thin slice and blink.  Even with the intention to put these stereotypes aside, they've become such a huge part of society that they make a huge impact on any judgment we make.
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ISBN-10: 0316172324
ISBN-13: 9780316172325
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Genre: Decision-Making & Problem Solving, Cognitive, Social Psychology & Interactions, Personal Transformation, Cognitive Psychology, Motivational, Business & Finance
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
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