Malcolm Gladwell


The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Blink summary

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Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005) is Malcolm Gladwell’s second book. It presents in popular science format research from psychology and behavioral economics on the adaptive unconscious: mental processes that work rapidly and automatically from relatively little information.

Who is this book for?

  • Readers who are interested in persuasive and leadership oriented books.
  • People who need to use persuasion to generate sales or inspire change.
  • Anyone interested to learn how to use why to get desired results.

Meet the author

Malcolm Timothy Gladwell CM (born September 3, 1963) is a Canadian journalist, author, and public speaker. He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996. He has written five books.

Blink Summary

Do not judge a book by its cover. Sometimes our minds know more than we do. Listen to your inner voice.

In 1983, an art dealer approached a Museum in California with a marble statue dating from the sixth century BC. It was a sculpture of a nude male youth standing with his right leg, his arms at his side and left leg forward. The statue is known as Kouros. Some other Kouroi were found damaged, but this one was well kept. The art dealer’s asking price was below $10 million.

The museum did thorough investigations to confirm whether the statue was genuine. After lengthy investigations and experiments, the statue was found to be real. The museum agreed to but the statue, and it went on display in 1986. The kouros, however, did not look right, it had a problem. Several curators examined it, but they could not articulate the problem.

All other specialists expressed their doubts about the statue and the museum. Evelyn Harrison, Thomas Hoving, and other Greek scholars expressed their feelings and reactions about the statue in a brief time. They did not consider all the gathered evidence. They made the decisions using what they had collected in a glance of the statue.

They looked at the statue, and their brains did quick calculations before it was distracted by any conscious thoughts. They did not know why they had those feelings; they just knew the statue was “fake.” They used the part of the brain that jumps to conclusions called the Adaptive unconscious.

We tend to believe that we make better decisions when we gather information and spend time deliberating. We only trust conscious decision making. During tense times such as stressful times, our snap judgments and first thoughts offer alternative and better means of making decisions.

Blink is made to convince you that snap decision are in all ways as good as decisions made deliberately. It concerned with the small parts of our daily lives. The spontaneous and instantaneous impressions and thought when we experience something.

Knowledge is power. But sometimes a lot of knowledge clutters your mind.

We believe that to accurately make predictions about anything in life we need to gather a lot of information in various contexts. It is, however, not the case, through Thin-slicing, we don’t require a great deal of information to make conclusions or to make predictions.

Thin-Slicing is the power of our unconscious to find patterns in life’s situations using very narrow slices of experience. When our unconscious engages in thin-slicing, we experienced an automated and accelerated unconscious way of making snap decisions.

From the studies done, Thin-slicing can be used to determine the future of a marriage performing quick interviews being recorded and monitored by computers. A relationship between two people has a unique characteristic that develops naturally and automatically. These characteristics make a marriage easily read because human behavior has an identifiable pattern.

When we jump to a decision, our unconscious is determining all that matters and disregarding all the irrelevant details of the situation. Since the unconscious is so good at thin-slicing, it delivers better decisions or answers than deliberate ways of thinking.

What people say about them can be confusing. Therefore, a better way of knowing the truth about them would be to ask indirect questions to be used later in thin-slicing the people. We thin-slice because we have to, it is an integral part of us humans. We rely on thin-slicing because there are lots of hidden information around us where keen attention to a thin slice of information can provide a lot of information.

Thin-slicing is a concept that is engraved in what it means to be human. We thin-slice because we have to since we rely on it in a lot of ways. Thin-slicing works best in situations where we want to gain knowledge without paying much attention.

Trust your instincts. In most cases, our instincts are always right. Learn how to use them to make quick decisions.

Quick decisions are swift, and they rely on the thinnest slices of experience in the unconscious. These are other facts about the working of the unconscious. We can readily acknowledge the power of quick judgments, but it is challenging to trust something that eludes our understanding. It is also challenging for us to believe the quick judgments of others. That is why the museum at first failed to trust the decisions of Hoving and Harrison.

If we are to improve our decision-making techniques, we need to acknowledge the nature of our quick decisions with thin slices. We need to accept the fact that it is possible to know something without really knowing why we have that information.

Primed for action is an experiment done to show how much our unconscious can be affected by what we experience in our daily lives. The type of information we feed our brains impacts on the final actions of the brains. Filling the mind unconsciously with polite words will increase the politeness of the person immediately after the experience.

Quick judgments are quick cognitive activities that happen behind a locked down of the unconscious. There are cases that these quick decisions don’t apply. In cases of romance, we cannot make quick decisions describing the kind of person we will fall in love with. It’s the reason why we go on dates.

When we stumped seated or actively taking part in any activities, our conscious mind is in most cases blocked. The unconscious, however, is always active scanning our environment processing ant detail that could be useful and evaluating any possibilities around us.

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“The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.” 

― Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

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