Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Published: 1/11/2005
Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology and displaying all of the brilliance that made The Tipping Point a classic, Blink changes the way you'll understand every decision you make. Never again will you think about thinking the same way.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Key Insights

Do you know when to trust your intuition? Do you know the best way to utilize those snap judgments to your benefit?

In Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, you will learn more about how your instincts are being backed up by further analysis of a situation, as well as how important your intuition really is.

Being able to make a decision using your gut feeling can be both a good thing and a bad thing, and it is important to know when it’s good and when it’s bad.

What Blink can show you

Often times, your intuition is a better source of judgment than even a more thorough analysis.

On the one hand, it is important to understand how intuition is able to look past information that is not relevant to the situation. On the other hand, you will also get a look at the drawbacks to this, as internal prejudices and perceptions can have a negative impact on the way you judge something.

With the help of Blink, you will understand how decision making can be impacted by knowing when to follow your intuition and when you need to further analyze a situation.

This is about finding a way to think about a situation without actually thinking about it. While we may think we are making a decision in the blink of an eye, these choices are not as easy as they seem. Beyond all of this, Blink is also a look at how great decision makers are able to slice through excess details and make a choice in an instant with the help of their fine-tuned intuition.

Key Points

  • It’s important to trust your intuition, as those judgments can be superior to your conscious choices

In order to make any decision, our brain typically relies on two different strategies.

The first strategy that our brain uses is recording and processing information, looking at the pros and cons of a situation, and reaching a conclusion that seems rational. However, the problem with this particular strategy is that it can be very slow and not ideal in certain situations where you need to make a snap decision.

The second strategy our brain uses is intuition, meaning we listen to our gut based on a snap judgment. Rather than utilizing complex thought processes, your unconscious mind is doing more of the work to make a decision.

Most people prefer to use their conscious decisions over snap judgments, as it can be an uneasy feeling to decide something without looking at all of the details. However, it seems that many times those unconscious decisions are more accurate than the ones that are made using a lot of rationalizing.

In many situations, there are regularities and patterns that stand out to our unconscious mind that allow us to make those snap judgments.

  • Our unconscious mind can make a decision about irrelevant and relevant information in mere moments

Being thorough can be seen as a good thing when making a decision. However, it does not always make sense to scrutinize every single detail, as it can be more effective to look at certain facts over others.

Typically there are a lot of irrelevant details that can actually hide the more important ones. When making a decision, it is typically our unconscious mind that is able to sort out the irrelevant from the important by looking at the perceptions needed to make a judgment.

The reason most people can make snap judgments that are accurate is the fact that our unconscious mind is able to process all of the details the brain takes in, sifting through the irrelevant.

  • People tend to make more snap judgments than they may realize and then find a way to rationalize it after the fact

Everyday, people are making snap judgments. No matter what the situation is, decisions can be made using the unconscious mind. It is all about using one’s gut instincts.

However, for the most part, people prefer to have facts in front of them before they make a decision, rather than just listening to their gut. It is because of this need for facts and figures that most people look for a way to rationalize their judgments after they make them.

In many cases, our intuition might lead us in one direction, while our rational thoughts and facts lead us in another. And even when we make a quick decision using our intuition, we typically find ourselves needing to rationalize it.

  • Unconscious associations have a major influence on the decisions we make

Our unconscious mind can have a major influence on the way we act. This means that our behavior is also influenced by our subconscious.

In many cases, this means associating specific characteristics with things like success or failure. For example, we might see someone and believe that they are competent based on the way they look, and yet they may not actually be good at their job or whatever it is that we think they are good at doing.

These snap judgments are made based on preconceived notions of things, such as what success might look like.

  • Stress can lead us to make the wrong decision

As previously mentioned, we typically make snap decisions based on the things we see. Just from looking at a person’s face, we can often tell what they are thinking or how they are feeling.

However, there are certain people who may not recognize non-verbal signs of how a person is feeling. People with autism are said to be blind to signals that are non-verbal. Being unable to read a person’s face means that they must rely on specific information that is expressed to them.

But did you know that someone experiencing stress and extreme pressure can find themselves in a situation where they are rendered “autistic” in terms of being unable to recognize non-verbal signals?

When we are stressed, we tend to ignore things like facial expressions and other signals that are considered indirect. Rather than focusing on the signals, we develop a form of tunnel vision and find ourselves focusing on the immediate stressors or what we believe to be the most important bits of information.

In order to avoid losing focus, we need to slow down and reduce stress. The more stress we are under, the more we become blind to the signs around us. And as those pressures increase and stress rises, people can become unpredictable as logic goes out the window.

  • Market research is not always an indication of how consumers will behave

The job of a market researcher is to determine what consumers want and what will work within the market. However, in many cases researchers are unable to accurately predict the behavior of consumers.

Unrealistic conditions can play a major factor in making the wrong call as a market researcher. For people making these decisions, it is also important to note that consumers are known to react negatively to new products that are seen as innovative.

We need to get used to things before we can express our appreciation for them. The more we get used to something new, the more likely we are to like this new thing.

  • Experiencing new things can help eliminate our prejudices

Even in modern times, prejudice is a thing that exists.

According to experts, the things we observe in our everyday life can teach our unconscious prejudices. And it is also important to note that our prejudices can have an impact on our behavior.

However, there are ways to push past these prejudices. In an effort to eliminate this negativity, it is important to get out and experience new things and meet new people.

Our attitude will shift thanks to these new experiences and the chance to engage with people from different walks of life.

  • To prevent bad snap judgments, you must ignore the information that is irrelevant

It is clear that everything from stereotypes and prejudices can influence the decisions that we make. However, there are ways to avoid this, as long as you are willing to shield yourself from misinformation.

In order to avoid prejudices and stereotypes, we need to ignore information that is not relevant to the decision actually being made.


Our unconscious mind is able to make a snap judgment in mere moments. And typically those judgments are actually better than a well-thought out analysis of a situation.

However, our judgment can be impacted by our internal prejudices, which is why it is important to experience new things and meet new people.

If you are a business person looking to determine how a product will do on the market, it is important to make sure you are using realistic conditions to make a decision. And remember that new and innovative things can take a while before they are appreciated by consumers.


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