Have you ever experienced an immediate impulse or reflex that allowed you to feel that you knew the right choice even before thinking? Some people tend to be skeptical about this, yet psychology proves that it is quite effective. And here is why.
In fact, this phenomenon even has a name – it’s called thin-slicing (no connection to pizza this time!). Our brain is capable of more than we think – in some situations we definitely have to trust & learn from our subconscious.
In brief, thin slicing means the process by which people make quick assessments of the world while using a limited amount of evidence. Your brain recognizes patterns from very small “slices” of information by comparing them to things you have experienced before. Malcolm Gladwell has even written a book about this, called Blink, where he examines some fascinating notions based on the idea of thin-slicing.
According to Gladwell, we thin-slice in our everyday activities, and this process can be used in all the spheres of our lives – from relationships between people (e.g. that feeling when you immediately click with someone or to the contrary – when you don’t) to performing our jobs.
Of course, snap decisions can just as often be incorrect, even dangerous. One of the most interesting examples that Gladwell gives in his book is actually linked to one of the big historical errors that humans made based on just a blink… It became known as The Warren Harding Error: Why We Fall for Tall, Dark, and Handsome Men. Gladwell examined the story of American president Warren G. Harding. Harding was a not particularly intelligent candidate, in fact “his reputation as a poker player and womanizer outweighed his political power. But people only had to see Harding to be convinced of his worthiness for higher office.”
Neither rational decision-making nor thin-slicing can guide people to the right conclusion 100% of the time. Is it possible, however, that by managing our lives with the right mix of the rational and the cognitive we can reach the right balance?