Blink – Malcolm Gladwell [Book Summary]

by Nick

The book “Blink” explores the phenomenon of spontaneous judgments, momentary decisions that we make unconsciously. Such instant judgments are an important part of the decision-making mechanism, which can also lead to wrong choices and various kinds of problems. The book tells you how to use them correctly.

Malcolm Gladwell is an American journalist and writer. Prior to this book, he had already published two bestsellers: Tipping Point and Geniuses and Outsiders.

This book is available as:

Audiobook | eBookPrint

You Will Learn How to Use Momentary Solutions for Your Own Benefit.

Do you trust your intuition when making decisions?

If so, then you should consider several important points.

First, you probably rely on her more often than you imagine. Even in such cases, when you believe that you have carefully analyzed the situation and substantiated your choice, it is quite possible that you only reinforced your original inner instinct.

Secondly, your intuition often helps to make better decisions than a rational analysis of the situation. This is due to the fact that it discards all unimportant information and focuses only on key points. But its drawback is that it is influenced by different characteristics of the subconscious, such as biased judgments and prejudices, which can just confuse you.

It is very important to distinguish between situations where you should rely on intuition and when you should not trust it – this will help you make the right decisions.

From this book you will learn:

  • why the launch of the brand of the most delicious cola failed miserably,
  • why experts in fakes of art often trust their instincts rather than rational analysis,
  • how one man was elected president of the United States only because of his appearance.

Do Not Discard Your Intuitive Sensations – They Are Often More Correct Than Informed Judgments

The human mind makes decisions in any situation in two ways.

The first method involves the conscious receipt and processing of information, weighing all the pros and cons, and then making a rational decision on further behavior.

This method of data processing is very slow, and in some situations, it simply does not have enough time.

In the process of evolution, humans developed a second, faster way: the subconscious mind instantly produces spontaneous judgments based on inner instinct, and not on rational thinking.

The second way of making decisions allows the mind to free itself from some complex thought processes, leaving them to the subconscious. The deep processes in the subconscious, completely invisible to us, process the incoming information in just a second, after which a suitable solution and action plan appear in your head.

Many people tend to trust only informed judgments; it is difficult for them to make decisions based on feelings and intuitive sensations. Nevertheless, momentary decisions are often much more effective than a thorough analysis of the situation.

For example, tennis experts can intuitively predict the unsuccessful serve of a player and at the same time, they cannot explain by what signs they determine it. There are experts in the field of art who can identify a fake at first glance simply because they have a “strange” feeling, and only later can they find a rational explanation for their solution.

In many situations, there are signs and characteristics that the subconscious mind perceives faster than the mind and logic. It is in such situations that it is better to trust your intuition.

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Our Subconscious Mind is Able to Separate the Grains From the Chaff in a Split Second

Although meticulousness is not a flaw, in the decision-making process it is often not worthwhile to thoroughly study every detail of the available information. Typically, focusing on several important factors and blocking irrelevant information allows you to make more productive decisions.

Suppose you see a couple in love and want to predict how long their relationship will last.

To do this, it is better to concentrate on a few key signs: if, for example, you notice even the slightest hint of contempt in their relationship, this will be a powerful indicator that they will soon have problems.

However, if you try to analyze all the details, it will be difficult for you to make an accurate prediction, since a large amount of unimportant information will eclipse the main points.

For example, if you watch this couple’s legs, their poses and chatter, you may miss out on more important indicators of their relationship, such as scornful looks.

In many cases of decision-making, our subconscious mind does this work for us: it separates the important from the secondary, analyzing your perception of various phenomena in order to make the right decision.

We can make correct spontaneous judgments, as our subconscious mind masterfully copes with the process of filtering information. In the same way that relations specialists know what signals to pay attention to when forming an opinion about a couple,

for example, a contemptuous look, in the process of making spontaneous decisions, our subconscious mind identifies key details from the entire amount of information.

We make much more momentary decisions than we realize, and then come up with rational explanations for them.

In everyday life, we constantly make unconscious decisions. For example, with regard to love relationships, we feel sympathy for a person at the first meeting.

Another example is football players who intuitively feel the right moment when they need to make an assist. Even experienced investors sometimes trust their intuition when deciding to sell shares.

In all these situations, decisions are made in the subconscious.

Nevertheless, many people trust facts and figures more than feelings and sensations, so they often come up with a logical explanation for their spontaneous judgments.

For example, at the end of a football match, a goalkeeper can justify that he several times perfectly reflected the shots, in simple words: “I just ended up in the right place at the right time.” However, his explanation distorts the real processes that took place in those seconds in his head: his automatic reactions to the blows were based on the work of the subconscious.

Similarly, our rational judgments about the ideal partner for a romantic relationship often do not coincide with our real choice. We can talk extensively about what character traits a future elect should have, but when we meet him, we do not put a checkmark in front of the components of this list. On the contrary, we unconsciously understand whether we like a person or not. Moreover, our intuitive choice often contradicts the rationally thought-out portrait of the desired partner, which we have already drawn in our heads.

Unconscious Associations Seriously Affect Our Decisions.

The subconscious mind in a special way affects our behavior.

For example, in one study, a group of people was asked to play the Trivial Pursuit quiz game, but before that they were divided into two teams and each gave their own task. Participants in the first team were asked to imagine what it would be like to be a professor, and the second team to reflect on the lifestyle of a soccer bully fan.

The results of the game between the two teams had significant differences: the team representing the smart professor gave more correct answers than the group representing the frantic football bully. Their associations influenced the outcome of the game.

Similarly, our subconscious mind constantly affects our behavior.

For example, many of us have learned to subconsciously automatically associate attributes such as “white,” “male,” and “tall,” with qualities such as strength and competence. Even if we do not openly admit that tall white men are more competent than undersized black women, many of us have this opinion rooted in the subconscious.

In fact, research has shown that tall white men find it much easier to succeed in their careers. It has even been proven that just a few extra centimeters of growth can cause a higher salary. Almost all the positions of top managers are occupied by white men above average growth.

The story of Warren Harding is evidence that associating a look with certain character traits can lead to disaster. Harding was elected president of the United States at the end of World War I, simply because his followers believed that he looked like a real president. In fact, he did not have any outstanding qualities or skills, so today he is considered the worst president in history.

Stress can temporarily turn us into autistic people and cause us to fail.

You will be surprised to hear that you have the ability to telepathy? In fact, we all can read minds. All you need to do is look at the person’s face: emotional facial expressions accurately reflect the course of his thoughts.

Moreover, scientists have proven that facial expressions are a universal phenomenon. People from different parts of the world can equally well recognize the emotions of happiness, anger or sadness on the faces of others.

However, there are people, for example, those with autism who are blind to non-verbal signals: they only understand openly transmitted information and are unable to read facial expressions.

In fact, even people without autism can temporarily become so as a result of stressful situations and with a lack of time. Under pressure, we tend to ignore many indirect signals, such as facial expressions, and switch to “tunnel” mode, paying all our attention to the impending “threat” – the most important at the moment. This reticence sometimes causes the police to shoot innocent people because they deliberately concentrate on a potential threat – and then even a black wallet may seem like a gun.

If you want to avoid such an autistic perception, you need to calm down and try to eliminate the sources of stress from the environment. The greater the stress, the greater the likelihood that you will temporarily begin to perceive the world as an autistic person. At a certain level of stress, logical thinking simply ceases to function, and a person can behave unpredictably.

Market research does not always reflect real consumer behavior

Marketing analysts determine which products are in demand in the market and which are not. However, researchers often fail to predict purchasing behavior.

For example, several decades ago, Coca Cola held a number of tastings and was forced to admit that customers like Pepsi more like their products. As a result, the company changed the recipe and introduced a new product to the market with the successful name New Coke (“new cola”). The results of the tastings said that the drink will become a real hit. What is the result?

The new cola became one of the greatest failures in the history of the brand and was then discontinued.

Why were the tests so far from reality?

The fact is that they were carried out in the wrong conditions: tasters had to evaluate products by taking only one sip, and all recognizable brand elements, for example, the color of the can, were hidden. How often do you drink Coke this way, not from a can?

Such unrealistic conditions have led to results that have nothing to do with subsequent buying behavior. To truly appreciate the new drink and give an instant opinion, tasters needed the appropriate context: it would be better if they sipped the can from the can, sitting at home on their couch.

It turns out that when conducting market research, you need to consider that buyers tend to react negatively to the first test of a new product. The fact is that the consumer just needs to get used to the goods that they are not familiar with, and only then they may like them.

To Get Rid of Prejudice, Leave the House and Start Trying a New One

Do you think that modern people still have racial prejudice?

By conducting simple association tests, psychologists found that racial prejudice was deeply rooted in people’s heads. For example, studies have shown that it is difficult for many US citizens to associate positive qualities with the word black, as opposed to the word white. Incredibly, such subconscious judgment was noted in black people.

Experts justify this phenomenon by the fact that the subconscious is formed through observation.

For example, today the ruling class in the USA consists almost entirely of “white” people.

Thus, the Americans developed a subconscious association of white skin and such a positive quality as power.

Most disturbing is the fact that all these prejudices do indeed affect our normal behavior. Skin color, gender and height form a person’s perception – at least take the hiring process.

If you do not want to fall prey to such prejudices, you must look for ways to change such subconscious opinions. One of such ways is meeting new people and trying out everything new.

For example, in another psychological test for associations, one student temporarily challenged his prejudice against blacks when he watched athletics competitions in which an American team, almost entirely composed of African-American athletes, participated. His desire to support his country’s team negated the influence of prejudices associated with blacks

If You Want to Avoid Erroneous Spontaneous Judgments, Ignore All Secondary Information.

Now you understand how strongly subconscious prejudices and stereotypes can affect your decisions. If you want to avoid this, you must consciously protect yourself from potentially false information.

For example, for many years the prevailing opinion in the music community was that only men can play professional instruments such as violin or double bass.

Women, despite their talents, were not even considered as serious applicants for such vacancies. Simply put, they fell victim to prejudice and stereotypes.

To solve this problem, in the music industry, during the auditions, they began to install screens that hide the floor of the musicians, so that judges can evaluate their game only on the basis of its virtuosity.

Thanks to this innovation, many talented female musicians are successfully performing today in orchestras around the world.

As this example shows, sometimes getting rid of subconscious prejudices is possible by simply ignoring irrelevant information.

The Final Words

The human mind can make spontaneous judgments in seconds. In certain situations, subconscious thinking is superior to rational analysis, but sometimes it can lead to the wrong choice and unfair assessment of others.

If you are launching a new product, make sure that its tests pass in realistic conditions. If your company or boss launches a new product, and you want to conduct marketing research before this event, try to reproduce the conditions and the environment as accurately as possible, in which your real customer will use the product.

Otherwise, the feedback received will be completely far from the truth.

Why You Should Read “Blink”?

  • To explore the foundation of intuition and the decision-making process.
  • To get rid of your own prejudices and stereotypes.
  • To learn to understand when to trust your intuition.

This book is available as:

Audiobook | eBookPrint