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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.

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In the blink of an eye, a single expert can usually tell you more than a mountain of survey data.

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.

There’s a freely-available thin-slicing research tool at Harvard called the IAT (implicit association test) that measures consumer attitudes and feedback by getting them to thin-slice word and image combinations (overview below).

Rather than ask for explicit feedback as you would in a survey (subject to a whole host of research biases such as self-censure and social-desirability biases), the IAT measures feedback implicitly and directly through the time it takes for consumers to complete thin-slicing tasks (researcher resources).

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