Conceptual speed dating
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.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).Answering this question typically requires measures of all three constructs, which we refer to as the ideal, the trait, and the evaluation, respectively.There are two ways to compute “match.” The first is the ideal × trait interaction, which captures the extent to which the fit between one ideal trait and the partner’s level of that trait predicts romantic evaluation, over and above the main effect of ideal and the main effect of trait alone. The second approach is that, for each dyad in your sample, you can compute a correlation between a participant’s ideals and a partner’s traits across multiple traits; this approach captures the relative fit between a set of ideals and corresponding traits. These two metrics are independent (Cronbach, 1955, called them elevation and accuracy). Too many marketing reports, metrics and plans, too much market intelligence, research and survey data? This is the prescription of Blink, the popular psychology bestseller from Malcolm Gladwell, staff writer for The New Yorker and author of the cult business book The Tipping Point. Thin-slicing is a neat cognitive trick that involves taking a narrow slice of data, just what you can capture in the blink of an eye, and letting your intuition do the work for you.
Or consider how an art expert thin-sliced a 2500 year-old Greek statue in the blink of an eye and was able to tell it was a fake.
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.