Cognition: Malcolm Gladwell and Rapid Cognition Essay

Submitted By julezcn
Words: 1227
Pages: 5

The Power of Split Second Decisions
By
Julie Nelson
English 1A
3/3/14

Everyday we are given the opportunity to make many decisions. Most of the decisions we make on a day-to-day basis are made so quickly that we don’t even realize we’ve just made one. The power of rapid cognition is the type of thought that happens outside of conscious awareness—what is commonly called intuition. In Blink, a book written by Malcolm Gladwell, our quick decision making is being analyzed to see if we can use it to our fullest potential. Gladwell discusses the gap between our experiences and our perception of those experiences. Gladwell writes that often times we don’t fully understand the reasons behind many of the decisions we make, even when those decisions turn out to be the right ones. Throughout the book, Gladwell uses various examples of people and their way of handling different scenarios. While exploring these scenarios, Gladwell states, “Snap judgments and rapid cognition take place behind a locked door” (p.51). Were trying to understand the things we've learned without realizing we've learned them, sometimes they're useful and sometimes they're maladaptive. In most cases we aren’t very good at handling the unknown; always wanting to know or have a reason as to why something is done. Generally when we don’t understand why we made a certain decision we say it was just a gut feeling or that we followed our intuition. Intuition is a loaded word with many definitions: a gut feeling, untaught knowledge, voices in our head, a strange feeling. It is a definition that suggests instinct, a sixth sense--something mystical, even a little magical. But Gladwell refers to what we like to call our intuition, as rapid cognition. The great news is that we are able to educate ourselves of our unconscious reactions and learn to make better snap judgments. While exploring other peoples experiences, Gladwell writes, “Our snap judgments and first impressions can be educated and controlled”(p.16). Researchers are finding that unconscious thought processes powerfully determine many aspects of our life, from how we perceive and react to other people to how we make moral decisions. When working with the public and constantly making contact with others, we are continuously thin slicing throughout our day. In Blink when Evelyn Harrison was shown the kouros and asked if they had purchased it, she blurted out, “I’m sorry to hear that.” (p.23) Evelyn Harrison was thin-slicing when presented with the kouros because it was different than what she was familiar with in her previous experiences with kouros. When we talk bout thin slicing, we are talking about “the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience”(p.23). Thin-slicing can become dangerous because we are unaware we are doing so. We need to become aware of how we treat others and start making a more conscious effort to treat everyone equally. When I was a personal stylist I had several customers a day who were from all walks of life. Part of what made me so successful in my position was that I was very aware of treating all of my customers the same regardless of the differences they may have. As a stylist it was my job to find out my customers needs and make sure I met each of their needs by the end of our appointment. I became so attentive to detail, that when a man walked in I was able to figure out his body structure and use thin-slicing to narrow down what brands, cuts, and styles would work for his body frame. After I found out his needs and decided which items would work for him, I would put together outfits from head to toe. In his fitting room I would have several outfits laid out for all occasions and have my client try each one on. As each outfit was tried on, I would ask how he felt in it. I would then explain why I…