There is no such thing as thinking without using your brain, but Gladwell’s book, “Blink! The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” pretty much captures easily how first-impressions and gut feelings could often turn out to be right, or why, when encumbered by our prejudices, our power to make snap-decisions can result in negative, expensive or even tragic consequences.
Gladwell works around the subject of thin-slicing, or knowing which information to discard and which to keep in rapid decision-making, performed “without thinking,” which the author argues is better utilized than relying on logic, information or reasoning. However, the irony of this way of thinking is that it is actually a product of constant, multiple exposure to a particular subject or situation that eventually led the individual to quickly identify tell-tale signs required in predicting, say, if a relationship will succeed, or identify the personality traits of a particular person in as short as a 15-minute visit to his or her room.
“…with experience we become experts at using our behavior and our training to interpret–and decode–what lies behind our snap judgements and first impressions.”
On the other hand, rapid cognition is not without it’s fault as it is prone to our prejudices. Oftentimes, race, gender and appearance affect the way people make first impressions. That is why the best thin-slicers are the ones who have reached a certain level of expertise and gathered enough experience that eventually allow them to identify the subtlest nuances of a person’s behavior, or why at first glance they can tell with almost certainty that an artwork is not authentic.
Oftentimes, we come up with too much excuses–faulty reasoning–for why we make certain decisions, instead of asking ourselves why certain traits raise so much red flags when we meet a particular person for the first time, or why we settle not necessarily for less but for what we already know is not right and definitely not what we are looking for:
…what happens is that we come up with a plausible-sounding reason for why we might like or dislike something, and then we adjust our true preference to be in-line with that plausible-sounding reason.