The one-sentence summary

Trust your first instinct, because a snap judgement made very quickly can actually be far more effective than one you make deliberately and cautiously.


  • BLINK Our ability to “know” something in a split-second judgement, without really knowing why we know, is one of the most powerful abilities we possess
  • A snap judgement made very quickly can actually be far more effective than one we make deliberately and cautiously
  • By blocking out what is irrelevant and focusing on narrow slices of experience, we can read seemingly complex situations in the blink of eye
  • This is essentially “thinking without thinking”
  • He introduces the theory of “thin slicing” – using the first two seconds of any encounter to determine intuitively your response or the likely outcome
  • He demonstrates that this “little bit of knowledge” can go a long way, and is accurate in over 80% of instances.


  • There are scores of vivid examples in which peoples’ first instincts have been right, but they cannot explain why. These include an art dealer identifying a fake statue that the Getty museum believes to be genuine, a tennis coach being able to predict every time when players are about to serve a double fault, and a psychologist accurately guessing years in advance if married couples will stay together or not
  • The thinking is a welcome counterpoint to a world in which too much reliance on proof and data has replaced hunch and instinct
  • The value of spontaneity is highlighted by the example of a forces commander who comprehensively beats better-equipped opposition in a US military exercise because he consistently does the opposite of what the computers predict
  • He goes on to show that, strangely, it is possible to give “structure” to spontaneity, by consciously going against the grain in order to generate an outcome that is surprising to the other party, but not to you.


  • Although the subject matter is fascinating, there are so many experts interviewed that the average reader would not be able to enact any of the skills necessary to take advantage of the findings, other than the basic point that you should trust your first instincts more.