How to Think Without Thinking

I really enjoyed Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcom Gladwell. The book chronicles our brain’s impeccable ability to comprehend a tremendous amount of environmental data in an instant, often without us even knowing it.

Gladwell describes a marriage counselor who could predict whether a couple would be together in 15 years by watching a single conversation and breaking down the body language and other very subtle clues. His predictions have been correct 95% of the time.

Another fascinating case study was a retired vietnam Colonel who during the most expensive war simulation in history was able to take out 20,000 American soldiers before they had a chance to fire a shot. Playing the part of a rouge middle east general, he was able to inflict mass damage to the best army in the world, by relying on quick instinctual decision making.

If you are in marketing you know how important first impressions can be. Blink highlights several marketing implications of rapid cognition.

Top 5 insights from Blink….

5. You can’t test something out of context and believe it to apply in real life (i.e. Pepsi’s blind taste tests when no one drinks soda blindfolded).

4. Subliminal messages can influence our behavior.
People who were subliminally primed with suggestions of old age in a word puzzle, would leave the room considerably slower. People who were told to think of what it would be like to be a professor answered more questions right, than a person who was made to think of soccer hooligans.

3. People can not consciously know what they truly want. (i.e. during speed dating people could not predict the characteristics of someone they would be attracted to.)

2. Sensation transference is a concept that suggests that on the unconscious level we don’t make a distiction between the package and the product. They switched the wine in Christian Brothers and E&J wine bottles, and people preferred the wine in the Christian Brothers’ bottle even when it was actually E&J wine.

1. In medicine there is no correlation between malpractice lawsuits and number of mistakes by a doctor. The doctors that have poor relationships with their patients get sued more often. It shows how important customer service really is!

Aurelius from Atheist Seeker said….

Interesting. I’m aways intriqued by the sorts of things that the human brain can do on the fly.

1 Comment

  1. Aurelius

    06.08.2006

    Reply

    Interesting. I’m aways intriqued by the sorts of things that the human brain can do on the fly.

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