Success isn't about finding one great way to achieve something and sticking with it. It's about looking at all the possible options and computing success through analysis.
Success isn't about finding one great way to achieve something and sticking with it. It's about looking at all the possible options and computing success through analysis. It works brilliantly in poker, and it works well in life, too.
Video of a man being dragged off a United Airlines flight sparks widespread outrage.
Chances are, by now you’ve probably seen the disturbing videos of a passenger getting violently dragged off a United Airlines flight when he refused to give up his seat. The airline wanted to boot four people off the April 9th flight from Chicago to Louisville, KY so it could accommodate some of its employees. While the others got off the plane without incident, the 69-year-old Dr. Dao said he needed to get back to his patients and did not want to leave. United called in airport security which pulled him out of his seat and through the plane to horrified looks and exclamations from other passengers. In the process Dr. Dao was hurt, bloodied and was spotted afterwards repeating “Kill me” over and over, clearly very traumatized.
The security officer involved in the altercation has been placed on administrative leave, while investigation takes place. It seems to reason that the officer will get a big part of the blame. It also seems at this point that the United Airlines is within its right to boot people off their planes. Even for no reason. But this fact has only added to the flames of a resounding public outcry against the actions of United, which is ultimately held responsible for this chain of events.
— Jayse D. Anspach (@JayseDavid) April 10, 2017
Are you the type of person who solves problems piecemeal, or with one great insight? A new study tells us the merits of each method.
Are you the sort of person who solves problems with a single “A-ha!" moment, more often than not? Do you find sitting down and analytically working through a problem boring? Well, take pride. A new study shows you are going to be correct more often than your analytic friends in problem solving – if you have the time.
The specific kind of gut feeling that the study talks about is “insight". Defined as ideas that “emerge into consciousness in an all-or-nothing fashion when the unconscious solving process is complete", these are the proverbial “A-ha!" moments of understanding when the answer to our problem is suddenly clear to us.
Many great thinkers have noted their use of insight over analysis for certain problems. Even Einstein thought that insight was a better method to use for problem solving sometimes, noting that he often made “a great speculative leap" to an answer then determined why it was correct after the fact.
A speculative leap of Einsteinian proportions.
But, why is this the case? Shouldn't gut feelings and insight be less accurate than analysis? What gives?
A study at Northwestern University and The University of Milano-Bicocca by Carola Salvi, Emanuela Bricolo, John Kounios, Edward Bowden & Mark Beeman presented various problems to subjects and studied how they solved the problem, how accurate they were, and how long it took for them to solve it.
Participants were given 15 seconds to answer, and were told to mark their answers as being solved by an insight or by analysis. They were told there was no wrong answer in how they solved the problem.
Questions solved with insight were correct 93.7% of the time, while those solved with analysis came in at a poor 78.3% success rate. The people who used insight also did so faster than their counterparts when they managed to solve it at all.
Things got more interesting when the researchers looked at the wrong answers. The two kinds of solutions gave differing errors. While people who relied on insight often just ran out of time, or missed something large in their answer. People who used analysis often added something wrong, as they thought out the answer and went down the wrong path.
This is not to bash analytic methods of problem solving; participants who used insight often did not submit an answer in the given time limit, while people who used analysis often gave some solution in time. If you need to have at least a partial answer with some accuracy, analysis is the way to go. If you have an all-or-nothing problem, insight might be best.
Why is this?
Insight is more than just a guess, but rather the answer that your brain has already figured out. If you have the time for it, it can be more reliable than analytic thinking. When you use analysis, you are finding a series of intermediate answers and then piecing them together; if you make a mistake at one point, the whole thing falls apart. Of course, with insight, you might not know why you have your answer, unlike when you use analysis.
So, if you want to solve a problem, you might get an edge by giving your mind time to reflect on it. And if somebody tells you that you need to be faster or more analytic about things, tell them to lay off – you just think like Einstein. To buy yourself some extra time, maybe have a shower.