Thin-Slicing is a term used to mean taking quick decisions on the basis of limited information. It can be alluded to thinking that in all probability occurs in a ‘blink’ For example when you walk into a shop to buy a dress, or you meet a person the first time, or see the initial scene of a film, it takes your mind about two seconds to form a judgment or arrive at a number of conclusions. The thinking that goes on in the brief time of about two seconds is powerful and has far-reaching consequences on one’s decision making process.
Malcolm Gladwell popularized this term in his work, Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking according to which people’s first impressions about others occurs as fast as within two seconds when they take decisions and think almost instantly.Gladwell explains that people ‘think without thinking’ and indulge in thin-slicing whenever they encounter a new person, a new situation or have to take a decision about something very quickly. According to him people make snap judgements quickly by relying unconsciously on thin slices of experiences.
In his book, Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell says,“We thin-slice because we have to, and we come to rely on that ability because there are lots of hidden fists out there, lots of situations where careful attention to the details of a very thin slice, even for no more than a second or two, can tell us an awful lot.”(p.44).Thin –Slicing is resorted to when people have to deal quickly with copious amounts of information or have to understand complex situations in no time. Generally it is one’s education, experience, and beliefs that help in thin-slicing a situation to gain a quick understanding.
The findings of the concept of thin-slicing have astonishing implications and significance for organizations as well as to explain a person’s reaction to situations. It is perhaps this concept of thin-slicing, the power to think without thinking and to take quick decisions about people and situations, that enables recruiters to interview and select the staff. It is also this ability of thin-slicing that enables one to interact with people of different personalities and also develop friendships in the workplace. In general the impact of thin-slicing is felt in building up business relationships, networking and agreeing or disagreeing with people.
Gladwell opines that once a person is aware that he often makes snap judgments or decisions about situations and people he meets, he can hope to control his “blink” response. The example cited by him refers to the selection of orchestras which is done by just listening to the music being played. The identity of the musicians is hidden, as a result, the only criteria for selection is the quality of the music irrespective of the physical, racial and sexual characteristics of the musicians. However it’s not that thin-slicing is an ability that should be discarded as it has got its own merits. Many a times it is this power to take a quick decision that may prove fruitful in a particular situation. It may save someone’s life, predict accurately the future of an outcome, and enable to take a quick action to save a situation.