Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking - Malcolm Gladwell

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking - Malcolm Gladwell

Learn to judge, make decisions and make choices without much thought, without compromising the ideal outcome.

In the book "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking", the author Malcolm Gladwell presents what he calls the "thin slice" technique, which is a form of fast cognition performed by our unconscious, based on small parts of the experience.

In other words, Malcom states that decisions made too quickly can be as good as decisions taken cautiously and deliberately, especially in stressful situations.

Curious, isn't it? In this summary, we will analyze the main aspects of this technique and how the author explains them. Come with me!

About the book "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking"

The book Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking was published in 2005 and brings Malcom Gladwell ideas about decision making, especially those that are taken quickly.

Divided into six chapters, the book brings the results of several scientific researches as a way to support its main ideas and examples.

Since its release, more than 2 million copies of the book have been sold, translated into more than 20 different languages.

About the author Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is columnist for The New Yorker since 1996. Malcolm is a journalist by training and worked at The Washington Post, where he covered business and science.

He is also author of hits "Outliers" and "The Tipping Point", in addition to other books. All his published works together have sold more than five million copies.

To whom is this book indicted?

The content of the book "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking", presented by Malcom Gladwell, will interest those that want to learn more about the decision-making process, as well as discovering how your intuition works in this type of situation.

The book will also help people who seek greater self-knowledge, being able to identify when their intuition is valid or not.

Main ideas of the book "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking"

  • Rapid and intuitive decisions can be as reliable as highly analytical decisions;
  • Being good at making quick decisions (the author calls "thin slicing") shows that you understand what is most relevant in the matter;
  • Stereotypes hinder our ability to "slice thin";
  • We are not aware of the processes that result in quick decisions (or first impressions);
  • Having broad mastery over a subject allows your quick and intuitive decisions to be even more reliable, precisely because you can identify what is most important in that subject;
  • Stress can impact our quick decision skills, both positively and negatively.

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[Book Summary] Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking - Malcolm Gladwell

Overview: Aspect 1 - The Theory of Thin Slices

The idea behind this theory is that our mind is able to identify comprehensive and meaningful patterns, even from small samples.

In other words, the author Malcom Gladwell tells us that we can make quick judgments with a high rate of accuracy, besides we have little information or exposure to the subject matter.

Malcolm explains that we can be effective in thin slices in two ways:

  • Drawing on a lot of experience;
  • Viewing what is relevant (our experience helps us identify it more easily and quickly).

In the book, the author cites the example of researcher John Gottman, who achieved fame with his studies on prediction of divorce and marital stability.

Gottman can predict with 90% accuracy whether a couple will get a divorce soon or not, just analysing 15 minutes of conversation between them. His experience gained over four decades of research has helped him achieve this level of predictability.

Overview: Aspect 2 - The "Secret Life" of Quick Decisions

Malcolm Gladwell explains that, quick decisions made on the basis of small samples of the subject, are works of what is called the subconscious.

The author cites in his book "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" that we can not explain many of these decisions we make, no matter how hard we try to reflect on them.

The main example explained in the book is about the tennis coach named Vic Braden. He was able to identify when a player would commit a double fault before he even completed the movement.

Braden was once able to predict the 20 double faults that occurred in a game between two world-class tennis players, who missed many few serves.

However, on thinking about it, Vic could not figure out how he could do that, he just could. This corroborates the author's idea that instant judgments, as well as extremely rapid, are also unconscious.

Overview: Aspect 3 - The Negative Part

In this part of the book, Gladwell changes perspective and deals with the negative side of slicing thin. He cites the example of US President Warren Harding, in which many people voted for his good look, but ended up becoming one of the worst presidents in the country's history.

This "dark side" of fast judgments is considered a strong cause for discrimination, prejudice and stereotyping.

However, the good news is that people can strive to identify when their decisions are being influenced by prejudices or stereotypes. So they can try to counter this and make less biased decisions.

For this, it is important to study and spend more time with the people and subjects with whom we are biased. Thus, it is possible to understand their culture and their behaviors, diminishing the chance to act in a partial way.

Overview: Aspect 4 - Less is More

The author Malcolm gladwell says that Western culture tends to value decisions that are complex and require more time and effort. However, he believes that this posture is not ideal.

The example the book "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" gives to support this statement is about a Chicago public hospital. In the 1990s, this hospital received daily about 30 people who claimed to be suffering from a heart attack.

Then every day the technicians and doctors performed a long series of procedures with the patient to most of the time find out that the person had no heart problem at all.

Because the hospital's resources were scarce, the costs to perform this amount of procedures were having a sudden impact on the budget. Thinking about it, the director decided to produce an algorithm based only on three factors to be analyzed in the patient.

Then, for each response to this factor analysis, an adequate procedure was determined, aiming at increasing the efficiency of care. With the implementation of the algorithm the rate of correct identification of heart attacks increased from 70% to 95%.

But what do these evidences show us? Basically, the author wants to show that for difficult decisions, sometimes less means more. Initially, we should focus on what is most relevant to finding a solution to the problem.

Subsequently, the gathering of various information is essential for the most appropriate treatment of the issue.

Overview: Aspect 5 - Stressful situations

In this last aspect, Malcolm Gladwell addresses the different aspects of slicing thin in situations of high stress. Usually, these situations force us to increase our focus.

High-level athletes often say that sometimes it seems that the speed of the game "slows down." Gladwell explains that this occurs because our brain ignores all unnecessary stimuli and focuses exclusively on what matters at the moment. This is what scholars call "tunnel vision."

This experience usually occurs when our heart rate is accelerated and stays within the range of 115 to 145 beats per minute.

However, above this spectrum, stress makes us less effective. For example, many people go into shock in a dangerous situation and become paralyzed. This makes them unable to even dial the police number on the phone.

Therefore, the author points out that we should not rely entirely on our intuition in highly stressful situations, because we may end up ignoring factors essential to the issue, because we are very nervous.

What do other authors say about it?

In his book "Pre-Suasion", author Robert Cialdini addresses this crucial moment in decision-making, that is, the first impression. In his work, he shows how to make that reaction as positive as possible, which allows him to apply his techniques both in sales and personal life.

Like Robert, author Michael Harris also works out ways to use quick insight into sales and negotiations. In his work "Insight Selling", he presents these practices to help sellers achieve great results.

The author Napoleon Hill, in his book "Think and Grow Rich", reports that a common characteristic among successful interviewees is that they are able to make decisions quickly, and are confident of that decision.

Okay, but how can I apply this to my life?

Finally, the author suggests some practices that can help you make the best use of quick judgments in real-world situations. They are:

  • Do not believe in rationalizations after the act: when someone explains why you did what you did, be careful. Usually they are presenting what they believe to make sense, not the real reasons;
  • Beware of misinterpretation of your feelings;
  • In high pressure situations, do not rely on instant decisions, especially if you do not have much experience in the subject;
  • The best way to train to be great at fast decisions is to study and practice the subject, so you know so well what matters in case you are able to deconstruct complex realities into basic elements, making the decision easier.

Did you like this summary of the book "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking"?

What do you think about the power of instant decisions? Leave your feedback in the comments!

In addition, you can purchase the full version of the book by clicking below:

Book 'Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking'.

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