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Psychology: Watching Common Sense and Intuition Clash Essay

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Updated: Mar 19th, 2020

Introduction: Rushing Into Making A Decision

Sometimes it seems that people make choices solely for blaming themselves for the consequences that come after. Indeed, people may rationalize the taken steps all the way they want, yet, along with a positive aspect, there will always be a downside to the choice that has been made. The given phenomenon, therefore, begs the question of whether the choices that have been made on the spot are as bad as they are thought to be.

Indeed, seeing how intuition is often defined as the ability to spot important details and factors subconsciously, the choices made in a rushed, irrational manner may actually be of more help than people think they are.

Although it is traditionally believed that people must base their choices on a range of logical arguments and carry out a major analysis of the key factors before passing their judgment of a particular situation and taking a step, Gladwell also has a point by arguing that the success of seemingly irrational and the so-called “emotional” choices can be explained logically.

When There Is No Time For Rationalizing: On-The-Spot Solutions

While it is always important to bear in mind the consequences of one’s actions, it is often important to be able to act intuitively. People are prone to spotting small factors so swiftly that they even fail to have these factors registered on their radar; instead, they believe that their intuition, the divine powers or some sort of a supernatural force leads them to take the proper step.

These small factors, however, can be defined and analyzed afterward. The given argument, however, begs the question why in some cases, taking risks and following one’s sixth sense pays off, while in others, people risk being left completely down on their luck. Gladwell argues that the efficacy of making a random choice depends on the type of personality that the choice maker has (Corey and Corey 289).

In his famous example of Paul Revere’s ride, Gladwell states explicitly that “the success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts. Revere’s news tipped and Dawes’s didn’t because of the differences between the two men” (Gladwell 30).

Therefore, it can be assumed that, even when talking about rushed or, rather, seemingly irrational decisions, one must take both the external (e.g., social status, wealth, reputation, etc.) and the internal (e.g., age, character traits, personality type, etc.) into account.

As the case study carried out by Gladwell himself shows, what works for a certain type of people, such as a confident person who is able to think outside the box, will not work for another type, such as a person who is incapable of using what Gladwell call is a “word of mouth epidemic” (Gladwell 30) efficiently.

When The Need To Stop And Think Arises: An Alternative Opinion

Weirdly enough, Gladwell offers a number of counterarguments for his concept of “rushed decisions” in his book – or, at the very least, the examples that he offers can be considered as such. For instance, the shocking case of Sima’s suicide note shows that people tend to make mistakes when they are emotional.

Thus, the choices made in a rushed and emotional manner are not always the best ones; worse yet, some of these choices have irreversible consequences, as Sima’s suicide case was: “Today Papa sent me away. Thank you for loving me so little. Sima. Give my farewell to Mama. Mama, you won’t have any more frustration or trouble from your boy. Much love from Sima” (Gladwell 216).

The given case shows graphically that an important choice, which one’s life hinges on, must be made in a very calculating and cool-headed manner; otherwise, a tragedy will ensue. The same can be said about the issue of smoking as a habit that is getting increasingly popular among the youth.

In the given case, there is the need to think and analyze in order to solve the problem; the mere act of prohibiting selling cigarettes to young people will not help resolve the issue since the “forbidden fruit” will become even more appealing to the youth (Evans 18).

Judging By Real Life Experiences: Cautious And Deliberate Steps Vs. Rushed Choices

Although Gladwell’s argument looks rather strong in theory, its practical application is yet to be tested. From my own experience, I would say that snap judgments and rushed decisions rarely work for the benefit of the person making them, since, when being emotionally involved, people are especially irrational and, therefore, are unable to make a rational choice (Archer and Tritter 1986).

In fact, there is a reason why such a byword as “do not judge a book by its cover” exists; by no means should snap judgments be used when discussing people and evaluating people’s personal and professional qualities (Planalp 183).

Snap Judgments And Their Significance: Intuition At Its Best

I must admit, though, that the ability to make fast decisions and act under the spur of the moment can be very efficient. In my personal experience, I have faced the situations when making a rushed step was the only option available; however, as a rule, I ultimately ended up in making the wrong step.

It is either the pressure of time, or the inability to take all the factors involved into account at once that prevents me from making the right decision. Anyway, I prefer to think well before choosing one of the available options.

Conclusion: Intuition As The Major Choice Making Tool

Despite the fact that Gladwell offers a cohesive train of logical conclusions for consideration, the idea of encouraging people not to be afraid of rushed decisions is flawed from the bottom. It is not the magical ability to make the right decision on the spot that Gladwell is talking about; instead, he clearly shows that the so-called irrational choices are based on the information acquired and processed subconsciously.

Therefore, there is no such thing as a magical ability to pick the right choices; there is only the capability of processing the incoming data quickly and efficiently. It would be wrong to claim that all decisions must be made without thinking of the consequences, taking the key factors into account or simply choosing the option that seems best.

Quite on the contrary, for the most part, it is recommended that people should be cautious about their choices, especially when it comes to the field of economics, finances, health, etc. However, when all options available seem equally good or appear to have equally terrible consequences, it is important to be able to stop rationalizing and let oneself follow one’s intuition.

Works Cited

Archer, Margaret and Jonathan Q. Tritter. Rational Choice Theory: Resisting Colonisation. New York City, NY: Routledge.

Corey, Gerald and Marianne Corey. I Never Knew I Had a Choice: Explorations in Personal Growth. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2013. Print.

Evans, Ian M. How and Why People Change: Foundations of Psychological Therapy. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2013. Print.

Gladwell, Malcolm. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. New York City, NY: Black Bay Books, 2002. Print.

Planalp, Sally. Communicating Emotions: Social, Moral, and Cultural Processes. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Print.

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