In a fascinating book called Blink: The Art of Thinking Without Thinking, author Malcom Gladwell illustrates how humans have evolved a skill he calls ‘thin slicing’ or the ability of our unconscious mind to extract information based on very narrow slices of experience. It’s a trait that is second nature to just about all of us and accompanies us on our day to day routines. It can be used for good or malevolent purposes, but nonetheless, it exists. In Blink, Malcom begs the question how accurate actually are these instinctual snap judgments? Well in some instances he claims that they can be surprisingly accurate when sizing up an individual for the first time. As evidence he sites and experiment that was conducted with college students. A handful of people were told to look around a strangers dorm room, then deduce information about that stranger based on whatever items were in their rooms. Surprisingly, these people were able to discover more about a complete stranger after a brief encounter with their things then were friends of five years! The study was revealing. He also goes into how susceptible our brains really are to outside influence. Free will, Malcom claims, is an illusion because our actions, much to our ignorance, is influenced and predetermined by a myriad of outside and internal factors.
I definitely recommend that you give this book a look if you’re interested in neuropsychology.