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But how can marketers harness the power of thin-slicing to cut through data smog and make smarter decisions?To answer this we need to understand how thin-slicing works: Blink draws on cognitive psychology to explain how our powers of thin-slicing intuition have nothing to do with the supernatural, and everything to do with our naturally evolved adaptive unconsciousness.So the obvious implication of thin-slicing is that you should trust your gut reaction when faced with a mountain of data. For experienced marketers with a proven track-record, this may indeed be the smart option.However, Gladwell warns us that experience and expertise are preconditions to effective thin-slicing; untrained intuition leads to bad decisions based on prejudice, bias and stereotypes.

And there’s another way thin-slicing can potentially inform marketing decisions – and that’s to use it to better understand consumers.Evolution has honed our social intelligence, allowing us read people accurately based on fleeting first impressions – which is why speed dating and chatroulette might actually be a good idea.We don’t even need to meet our potential future partners in the flesh: just a quick webcam peek of their bedrooms is enough to accurately guess their key personality traits.Or consult the retired soldier whose thin-slicing intuition can outwit the supercomputers of the US Armed Forces.The great thing about thin-slicing, argues Gladwell, is that we can all do it, especially when it comes to thin-slicing each other.

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