Blink Book Synopsis

Blinkis a book by Malcolm Gladwell that looks at the psychological processes known as intuition and instinct and how they impact our ability to make split second decisions. The main concept behind the book is called “thin-slicing,” a process in which humans are able to use a limited amount of knowledge to come to a conclusion. Essentially this means that making decisions on a whim is the same as spending the time to make a calculated decision.


Let’s take a look at some lessons that we can apply to physiotherapy practice:


1. More Isn’t Always Better


In his book, Gladwell takes a look at the notion that having too much information can impact decision making negatively. He examines physicians being given a great deal of information to assess whether a patient was going to have a heart attack, instead it ends up clouding their judgement. A simple algorithm using three data points was a far better predictor of heart attack likelihood than all the extraneous data. Similarly, when coming to a conclusion of a diagnosis in physiotherapy practice, it is important to be able to distill which information is truly needed to make an accurate judgement. Gladwell says that by attempting to explain and rationalize every decision, individuals prevent themselves from making good intuitive choices. As he states, “truly successful decision making requires a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.”


2. Priming Alters Results


Priming is the concept by which behaviour can be altered due to certain stimuli or images or words. Gladwell highlights that priming has been shown to have a huge effect on the performance of individuals in various competitions. Similarly, you can be impacting your clients by subconsciously priming them with your choice of words used in the clinic. Using phrases such as “wear and tear” or “severe degeneration” when discussing arthritis with your patients can prime them to experience more pain than they already are. Therefore, it is crucial to think about the ways that you may be consciously and subconsciously priming your patients when interacting with them, and learn to control your priming.


Blink is essentially taking a look at whether you should trust your instincts or take the time to make deliberate and thoughtful decisions. Ultimately, quick judgements can be accurate, however they are likely resulting from subconscious biases such as racial or socioeconomic ones. Thus, while it is important to listen to the voice inside your head, you should also take the time to think through decisions. We, at PT Business Corner, definitely found that Blink helped with critical thinking and hope you enjoy giving it a read!




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