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sophie Cunningham

I am reading Blink at the moment and heartedly concur with its arguments. I was a book publisher for many years and all my best judgements were the quick ones. The more meetings there were to justify decisions, get other opinions, do market research etc, the worse I got at my job. I quit. Anyway - I just want to thank you for writing the book. It's terrific.


I heard coverage on this topic on NPR. The first thing I thought of is blink.


Now your wikipedia page has your blog link.

David Thomson

I read Blink and found it quite interesting. However, I felt that it was not as strong as it could have been because it didn't address to my level of statisfaction the difference between rash, snap judgements and subconscious, deeply deliberate ones. The article makes more of a point that sub-conscious decisions where all of the details may not be thoroughly considered by the conscious mind are not necessarily bad.

However, in Blink, there was not much of a distinction between the bad quick decisions and the good ones, other than having a certain level of expertise in a field for a long time.

I personally would have appreciated some suggestions on the attributes of "from the gut", intuitive and good blink decisions as distinguished from more rash ones, such as to open fire on a gentleman opening his wallet.

Not that I feel the need for protection from my own decisions, but the part about officers behaving differently in pairs only started to scratch the surface.

Overall, however, it was a great read because it brought the topic to the forefront of a lot of conversations. I think if we all let go of the mind and put a greater emphasis on deeper learning and synthesizing of information (like they say happens in sleep), society would probably improve immensely. Someone told me once that meditation was not so much about ceasing to think, but more giving some calm for the deeper subconscious to think without directed input.


Mmm wonder what this tells us about partners...initially the decision seems right then the more thought we put into whether we want to spend the rest of our lives with this person the more the decision looks less valid ! Maybe this tells me thinking and relationships don't go together......

Erik Pettersen

Just to be contentious (and I haven't read Blink yet, sorry it's on the todo list!)

'Sleeping on it' best for complex decisions: http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn8732&feedId=online-news_rss20

Although, I'm sure that's not directly in opposition to the thinking behind Blink, but it's interesting (to me).



I think this article concurs with Blink in that what we traditionally believe to be a deliberate and thorough process of decision making (measuring, number crunching, linear logic) doesn't work for "complex decisions"; we run into trouble when "think" (i.e. consciously think) too much about important decisions, than let our brains work for themselves (as so-called idiot savants are able to do).

With such "simple decisions" as buying shampoo, it is argued that the brain has a mechanism to override all the factors that go into our choice. If we're deciding between three brands of shampoo, there's usually something that allows us to pick one over the others (the packaging, price, smell). Because these choices don't really matter to our day to day life, we don't fret or regret on our decisions. We just choose, and that's that.

I believe that this study's results have as much to do with our own knowledge of our decision making process as the actual process itself. In other words: because, when shopping for a car, if we consciously think about the choices, our brain will fixate on the cars we didn't choose. And thus we get buyers remorse, especially because these decisions are not only complex, but important. When we "sleep on it," we don't fixate, and we don't regret; we just go with the flow.

Tony Bailey

I don't have a direct comment related to this post, I just wanted to say great work on "Blink" and "The Tipping Point", most points are intuitively razor sharp (i.e. New York and the Broken Window parable) and I would love to pick your brain on some of the minor points - teach a class in L.A. okay?

Oh yes, and welcome to Blog culture.


I'm just reading Tipping Point and I'm glad that you have a blog now.

Brad Isaac

I too just finished reading Tipping Point (blogged about it a couple weeks ago). I am looking forward to reading your thoughts more frequently.

Debra Hamel

Glad to see you blogging! I posted a review of Blink over at book-blog.com just a couple weeks ago: http://www.book-blog.blogspot.com/2006_02_01_book-blog_archive.html#113951885990178901

Thanks for the great read.


From the article "choices in complex matters (such as between different houses or different cars) should be left to unconscious thought."

That sounds a lot like Hayek/Mises' argument in favor of free markets. Using emergent order to tackle complexity isn't really new, it's just being applied to individuals instead of societies in this case.

Great to see you're blogging, they pay may not be great but the exposure can't hurt.


Tolstoy was telling us this years ago. From Anna Karenina:

"Reasoning led him into doubt and kept him from seeing what he should and should not do. Yet when he did not think, but lived, he constantly felt in his soul the presence of an infallible judge who decided which of two possible actions was better and which was worse; and whenever he did not act as he should, he felt it at once."

more here: http://jknecht.blogspot.com/2006/02/tolstoy-on-how-to-live.html

If Tolstoy has already been cited, sorry for the redundancy.


Malcolm, you've seriously misread the scientific result here. It demonstrates that certain narrow classes of decisions are best made without *conscious* deliberation; the superior alternative was not the instantaneous "gut" reaction, but the decision made after an extended period of *unconscious* (or subconscious) deliberation.

Trey Ratcliff

My friend just Blinked and had a car accident. I told her that she should read more than the title of the book, but she voted for Nader in the last election and does not use the full 15% of her brain like the rest of us. She was traveling unsafe at any speed.

I wish I had as much hair as you.

That is the first thing I think about whenever I see you, rather than thinking about your rather cogent arguments.

The Wordyeti

One of the disturbing trends that has surfaced from time to time is the amount of research that Big Corporate is tossing at doing cat/MRI scans on our brains as we go through our decision-making tree.


By breaking down precisely what works and what does not, it is (allegedly) making it easier and easier to manipulate the average person (in this case shopper/voter) into making the desired decision (buying the new redesigned cereal package/touching the Diebold screen).

While Blink did not, perhaps, arrive at final, clear-cut conclusions, I think that its strength was to at least point out that a lot of what we do is determined by something other than our conscious "logical" self ... whether that is a good or bad thing is perhaps beyond the ability of a single book to determine.

For me, all I know is that the times in my life when I have really gotten into trouble have been those when I have ignored the "little voice" in my head and gone ahead and acted according to what I wanted to believe to be true.

The Wordyeti

BTW - It may be a little early to demand interfact refinements, but can you pop for the upgrade that will allow us to do hyperlinks in our comments? I promise I'll buy friends another copy of Blink if you do... (I've already given away 3 copies)

Richard Freytag

They key quote in that Science snippet comes at the end "decisions were viewed more favorably" when made without deliberation.

My reaction: of course they view their quick decision more favorably - they don't understand the choices enough to understand what might have been if they'd chosen differently.

I think the subjects are probably happy and ignorant. That may well be a good goal. But that is not what the title implies is the result - instead the implication is that generally complex decisions should be made quickly. Please be clear about what is being sought and measured.

All the best,


Welcome to blogging! Thank you for two solid works in a row. We may be blinking or contemplating, but either way, we're thinking more, thanks to you. Well done!


Yeah, it seems to be sleep on it, not blink on it. Also isn't the read-out buyer's remorse? I feel more remorse when I feel culpable, and I feel more culpable when I've deliberated than when I've gone with my gut. That might confound a buyer's remorse test.


Thanks for the link....good article.

Dave Ferguson

We are doing a series at our church (somewhat) inspired by your book Blink! http://www.communitychristian.org/ It is about making God-honoring choices at the speed of life. Any more comments on spirituality impacts no deliberating decision making?

Mark Vaughan

I loved Blink, but I really loved Tipping Point. It's very interesting to see the huge variety of applications that others have made, of the concepts in the Tipping Point. One I particularly like is this paper 'Why your boss is programmed to be a dictator' (http://www.changethis.com/19.bossdictator) ..I wonder what you make of it!


So glad you have started a blog.

Marc Shivers

Shortly after I first read Dijksterhuis' paper, I stumbled upon Lynn Kiesling's post (at http://www.knowledgeproblem.com/archives/001531.html) about how Americans feel less productive now than they did in 1994, despite the fact that American productivity has increased dramatically since then. For knowledge workers especially, it would seem that Dijksterhuis' conclusion, that people make better desicions when they don't think too hard, would explain this divergence. I blogged on it also at http://quantlogic.blogspot.com/2006/02/dont-think-too-hard.html

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  • I'm a writer for the New Yorker magazine, and the author of four books, "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference", "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" and "Outliers: The Story of Success." My latest book, "What the Dog Saw" is a compilation of stories published in The New Yorker. I was born in England, and raised in southwestern Ontario in Canada. Now I live in New York City.

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  • What the Dog Saw

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    Tipping Point

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