Emre Soyer, Ph.D., and Robin M. Hogarth, Ph.D.

When to make snap decisions and when to prefer reflections?

Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking was published nearly 15 years ago. In it, he made a highly entertaining case for the surprising accuracy of snap intuitive judgments—by both experts and novices. This, in turn, led to a presumption that in many cases people should rely on their initial feelings when making decisions as opposed to thinking through the issues more carefully and slowly. In other words, people should “blink” rather than “think.”

The implications of Gladwell’s book were not well received by experts in decision making who favour a more structured, analytical approach. They argue that “blinking” would invite errors in decisions that can be eliminated by an approach based on “thinking” and therefore the latter should be preferred. In addition, thinking allows one to share information and thoughts when decisions are made together by different people.

In fact, in his book Gladwell did not state that one should always rely on blinking but gave some examples of situations where structured thinking works well. What was missing from Gladwell’s analysis, however, is a specification of the kinds of situations in which blinking or thinking is more appropriate.

One feature of intuitive snap judgments is that you are typically unaware of “how” you reached your evaluation. For example, imagine that you have just met a job candidate and have had an immediate positive reaction. That is, you sense that the candidate is good but would find it difficult to provide the rationale for that judgment. Nonetheless, you rely on that judgment in shaping how you ask your questions in the interview, so it is in fact quite consequential.

What is the origin of your intuitive judgment? Clearly, it is not an insight inherited at birth but instead must be the result of your experience across your life. Indeed, like all of us, you are quite used to having reactions on first meeting people. It is something you have had a lot of experience with, even though you cannot really explain how you do it. However, the issue that should come to mind is how relevant your experience is to the task of judging this particular job candidate at this particular time.   

This is a hard question to answer because, although you have had lots of experience in meeting people across your life, it is almost impossible to know what subset of those experiences apply to the situation you are facing now.

Now imagine a scenario in which you are renting a bicycle in a city. In your youth, you rode bicycles often and you make a quick intuitive judgment that you won’t have problems with this one. You don’t. You are right. All your past experience with bicycles is reliable and relevant to riding the bicycle in the city.

The scenarios of the job interview and the bicycle are similar in that both involve intuitive judgments that are necessarily made on the basis of experience. They differ, however, in terms of the reliability of one’s experience: It is definitely reliable in the bicycle scenario, but it’s unclear whether it’s reliable in the job interview. This brings us to our major point. Whether blinking is effective or not depends on whether the experience that gave rise to the particular intuition is reliable when applied to the problem being faced.

More generally, we argue that in terms of taking future actions, intuitions—snap judgments that represent what we have learned from experience—can be conceived as having been acquired in learning environments that can differ in their relevance to the situation currently being faced. Indeed, we characterize learning environments as being kind or wicked depending on the situation. article continues after advertisement

So should we blink or think? And when? Clearly blinking works when the decision-maker is performing a task where he or she has been exposed to relevant information, i.e., a kind learning environment. Typically this means that the task has been performed on many occasions and the decision-maker has received prompt and accurate feedback on the validity of judgments. Blink can work. However, if the learning environment is wicked—one that provides irrelevant information and misleading feedback—blinking is not a good strategy.

Made through Canva by Soyer

Blink or Think Source: Made through Canva by Soyer

Unfortunately, in many cases it may be difficult to appreciate whether learning environments are kind or wicked. We are used to learning from experience and this is a process that happens automatically. It also means that, on occasion, the more experience we have with a particular task (like judging job candidates) the more convinced we will be that our inherently fallible judgments are accurate.

We clearly blink frequently in our daily lives and most of the time have little real awareness of whether our judgments are correct. What we need are mechanisms that can help us understand whether our learning environments are kind or wicked and so become aware of when blinking is or is not appropriate.

3 thoughts on “Blink or Think?”
  1. LBRC- Kids asked, so…, We heard a so- called “Constitutional Expert” say something on PBS, which give “Strong Indication” about how “Conservative” and NEOCON Partial PBS News has become! This so- called “Expert” had absolutely “No Clue” about what constituted a “High Crime” and “Winged it”! A He and she Faux Blonde, cloaked in Tomato Red, slammed House Impeachment Managers for pursuing what they called a Bogus Case (Sounds Familiar?) of Evidence, against  Donald John Trump involving a  High Crime. Let’s follow this Logic after we share a commonly pulled definition of “High Crime” via a simple Google Search! – We’ve read all the Federalist, even memorized most including The Constitution! 

    1.” A high crime is one that can be done only by someone in a unique position of authority, which is political in character, who does things to circumvent justice.” So- called Mainstream media has hardly demonstrated competence with respect to definition! Legions of so- called Media Experts have failed the “Competence Test” with respect to Fundamental Definition! During 2020 Impeachment, Optic Nerves with direct links to Frontal Lobes, are subliminally and hypnotically linked to Idiot and Brain Dead TV Tubes! 1984 and Brave New World is ‘Dat of 2020! 

    Common Definition- Go to The Constitutional Rights Foundation>>>


    2. The Office of Chief Executive, SCOTUS, Justice, Judge and/or Federal Appellate and yada…, offer lots of opportunity for “High Crimes”, why the Historical Account bears adequate witness!

    3. High Crimes by their very Nature are generally unique and distanced from “Average” Crime- to include but not limited to Criminal, Civil or other! Malfeasance in office De Facto is a “High Crime”! Why? Because only those uniquely positioned aka “Public Office and Trust” are in a unique position to commit it!

    4. The Office of President of The United States is given “Unparalleled Military, Budget and International Access to include but not limited to Foreign Sovereigns”! How many average citizens comprehend opportunities for abuse. If you do not comprehend “U.S. Constitution Fundamentals”, how in the heck do you comprehend “Violations Involving Oath of Office” and/or delineate powers and what constitutes “legitimate”! ***Stalin said- ” Power is authority, cloaked in robes of legitimacy”!* Ignorance legitimates any power! When slanted and partial media fails to define what it portends to report and comment about, it has become complicit with “Russian Stalin- ism, Communism”! 

    5. btw- How does any literate so- called expert say about “Impeachment”- “It is up to voters, The People, and not The House of Representatives? Pardon us, but we are reminded about an SNL Quip, whereby Jane is slammed for a perceived ignorant statement- “Jane (Played by Jane Curtain)/now John in 2020/ you ignorant slut!” /Jest! Problematic is and according to Madison, Jefferson, Adams…- “The House of Representatives are The People”! You ask how so? Who reads, right? 

    a. The House has 435 Elected Members and thereby more responsive to more people!

    b. Therefore, issues regarding funds, shall be originated in “The House”! The Senate only has 100 Members. Each populated State no matter how populated, only has 2! Congressman are apportioned according numbers by Census, affording “Proportional Representation”! /end/. Within our reach of a diverse group of kids to include but not limited to Elementary, none have failed to comprehend these “simple” fundamentals! Of course most can read and comprehend!

    6. Founders must be rolling over in their graves. “High” Technology is ubiquitous in 2020! Yet, the Constitutional Illiteracy of Common Media and Citizens has succumb to- “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with BS”!!! 

    7. De Facto Literacy is rare  in 2020, Praise to The Most High not all has gone the way of Dinosaurs! 

    Peace Out…

  2. LBRC- “Knowledge is a Defense! Ignorance Defends Your Right to Extinction”!

    1. Evidence of a “Profoundly” ignorant Media and Citizenry” and why so- called “Founders” initially didn’t want to empower average citizens with “The Vote”! 

    btw- If anybody should “Appreciated” the “Vote”, it is “Black” Americans, whose Ancestors “Demanded” it! They were more literate in 1865, despite having been enslaved and forbidden to learn to read than too many Negroes in 2020- “Educated, Miseducated and Uneducated Fools alike! Racist and The Power Elite in 2020 utilize images of “The Negro ‘Ignant” prominently in Commercials, Music Rap, Sports Figures, Obese Characters (No Healthy Personal Discipline) and yada…!!! Sorry…?

    a. Racist Confederates knew, reading plus comprehension was “Humanizing and Empowering”! Just like with Joe in “Huckleberry Finn”, Mark Twain “Humanized” a Black Man with his portrayal of Joe! Joe did not fit a “Racist Stereotype” used to justify “Crimes Against Humanity” aka “The Unique and Egregiously Savage  Enslavement of Blacks”, especially in The South!  

    b. So sad, in 2020 and frankly- “There are Negroes who “Celebrate” Ignorance aka “The Ignant”! 

    c. A Real Example? NOLA in 2020! Despite Brown vs Board, 1954- Schools in NOLA are De Facto “Re- Segregated” in a 100% Charter “Experiment”, so says “The Legislation”! What does Negro Voters do? They reward “All” those responsible with a return to “Elective Office”, voters and non! They hardly if ever see their BESE, State Board Rep., alleged to not to even technically live in the state!  One election produced a “7%” turnout of voters! NOLA’s so- called “Opportunity Youth”, tens of thousands, are a majority population of “Negroes”, considered a “Useless Class” of “Eaters” and others/Look up Henry Kissenger’s Remarks regarding this, a growing Class of illiterates as he perceived it! The point of all is? 

    2. 2020 is no time to be ignorant about “Fundamental” issues! Even invoking “Scripture”- “He would not have you ignorant”! What is “Impeachment 2020” really about? Most have no Clue about “US Constitutional Fundamentals which govern them”, especially Media and Sycophant “Worker Bees”!

    a. BLACK ANCESTORS in 1865 were exceptional when compared to  progeny! Negro Politicos typically “Totally Assimilate” into Racist Paradigms and it seems, couldn’t care less about genuine representation.

    b. The median “Net Worth” of US Negroes are pitiful! Negro Politicos “Pontificate” and do little with respect to “Effectively” alleviating disparate and die- habilitation, negative impacts! Low info voters easily succumb to “Rhetoric” and “Village Idiots” are complicit and “High Profile”! 

    3. Illiterate Media hardly contest a rapid proliferation of ignorance! With impeachment, how does #45 get away with so much out and out “Propaganda”, “Uncontested”? An “Illiterate” Media and Citizen has “NO CLUE”!!! btw- *We apologize for the length of this reading! It is an attempt to “De- Hypnotize” away from The Idiot Tube and “Talking Heads”!!! We forgive Short Attention and Reading Spans!!! 

    What did so- called “Founders” really say about “Impeachment and High Crimes”?

    a. “James Madison of Virginia successfully argued that >>>”An election every four years did not provide enough of a check on a president who was incapacitated or abusing the power of the office”. >>>He contended that “loss of capacity, or corruption , might be fatal to the republic” if the president could not be removed until the next election.<<>> https://www.crf-usa.org/impeachment/high-crimes-and-misdemeanors.html 

    *Congress has no power to impose criminal penalties on impeached officials. But criminal courts may try and punish officials if they have committed crimes.”- *IMPORTANT- THIS IS WHY TRUMP IS DESPERATE TO GET RE- ELECTED!!! 

    b. “What are “high crimes and misdemeanors”? On first hearing this phrase, many people probably think that it is just an 18th century way of saying “felonies and misdemeanors.” Felonies are major crimes and “misdemeanors are lesser crimes”. 

    c. Founder Mason abandoned “maladministration” and proposed “high crimes and misdemeanors ‘against the state’.” ” The final version, which appears in the Constitution, stated: “The president, vice-president, and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of treason, bribery, “or” other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

    The convention adopted “high crimes and misdemeanors” with little discussion. Most of the framers knew the phrase well. Since 1386, the English parliament had used “high crimes and misdemeanors” as one of the grounds to impeach officials of the crown. Officials accused of “high crimes and misdemeanors” were accused of offenses as varied as misappropriating government funds, appointing unfit subordinates, not prosecuting cases, not spending money allocated by Parliament, promoting themselves ahead of more deserving candidates, threatening a grand jury, disobeying an order from Parliament, arresting a man to keep him from running for Parliament, losing a ship by neglecting to moor it, helping “suppress petitions to the King to call a Parliament,” granting warrants without cause, and bribery. ***Some of these charges were crimes. Others were not. >>>The one common denominator in all these accusations was that the official had “somehow abused the power of his office” and was unfit to serve.***!!! <<>> https://www.crf-usa.org/impeachment/high-crimes-and-misdemeanors.html

    e. Mainstream Media is controlled by a few and is generally a “Propaganda Tool” for “The Ruling Elite”! Wake up! Don’t be an “Echo Chamber” for “Ignorance Proliferation”, especially a Negro “Village Idiot”! Search, Verify and Think for yourself!!!

    Peace Out… 

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