How Your Quick Decisions Can Change Your Life

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Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Colin Lowther and Liz Waid look at the quick decisions we make, without thinking. These decisions affect our lives more than we know.

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Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Colin Lowther.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand no matter where in the world they live.

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Voice 1 

Most people have experienced an immediate reaction. Think about the last time you smelled something delicious. Did you react with an emotion? Have you had a reaction to a beautiful piece of art? Did you react emotionally when you saw someone you loved?

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Malcolm Gladwell is a writer. He writes about how our brains are influenced by things we do not even know. Gladwell calls these immediate reactions we just thought about snap judgements, or quick decisions. They often influence us in ways we may not even recognize. Today’s Spotlight is on these immediate reactions and how they affect our everyday lives.

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Here is a fun example of how our brains create these immediate reactions. Answer these questions as quickly as possible.

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What color are clouds? What color is snow? What do cows drink?

cow looking at the camera
What does this cow drink?; Image by Wolfgang Claussen from Pixabay
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Most people answer the first two questions with “white”. But they answer the third question with the word “milk”. If you answered that cows drink milk, you are not alone. The correct answer is water. It was the color white that made you have a snap decision that cows drink milk.

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Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book about snap judgements called “Blink”. In this book, he tells a story about a snap decision. In 1983, the J. Paul Getty Museum received a statue. They believed it was from the sixth century B.C. Scientists at the museum did some basic tests to make sure the statue was real. The tests seemed to show that the statue was very old.

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Thomas Hoving is an art manager. He looked at the statue. Hoving always remembers the first word to come into his mind when he looks at a new piece of work. Normally, when Hoving sees an old, large marble statue, his first word is “old”, “beautiful”, “ancient”, or even “heavy”. Hoving has been around art for many years. His experience makes it easier for him to choose between real art and copies of real art. And when he looked at the statue, the first word he thought of was “fresh”. His snap judgement made him think the statue was not thousands of years old. It was new.

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Scientists decided to do more tests. These further test results showed that the statue was not real. It was a very good copy of a real statue. The person who made the statue worked hard to make the statue seem old. The museum was not happy when they learned they would not be able to put this statue in their museum. But this snap decision saved the museum from years of shame and regret.

The Kouros Statue at the Getty Museum; This photograph has been cropped.
The Kouros Statue at the Getty Museum; This photograph has been cropped; Rbw48, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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This is just one example of the effects of snap judgements or quick decisions. Snap judgements can also help improve – or even save – our lives.

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Imagine you are walking down a street on a sidewalk. You are thinking about something that is very interesting. You are not thinking about walking down the street. You decide to turn right. You do not see that you have just stepped out on to a busy street. You look up and see that there is a car driving toward you. Without thinking, you jump back up on to the sidewalk. You do this to avoid being hit. It was your own quick decision to jump back, away from the street, that saved you from being hurt.

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In an emergency, quick decisions also help. For example, doctors use snap judgements to treat injuries. They react based on past experiences. These past experiences help doctors know, without thinking, what they must do. If doctors take too long to make a decision, it can be too late to save a person’s life. Their quick thinking can help keep everyone safe.

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Gladwell says that people make quick decisions because they must. Sometimes people must make quick decisions to survive. Other times, people make them because it is natural. Our past experiences help to form our decisions. This is what helps to make them natural. Snap judgements come from the unconscious part of our brain. So, we do not know we are making snap judgements until after we make them. We often do this when we meet people.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels
Voice 1 

There is a common saying in the English language: “Do not judge a book by its cover”. This means that we should not make an opinion about something or somebody based on the way they look. But people do this every single day. And, sadly, these snap judgements can easily be wrong.

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Snap judgements come from experience. But our experiences of people can be limited. Many of us do not know people of a different ethnicity or race. We mostly know people who are like us. So, when we see someone who looks different, our snap judgements are not based on experience. They are based on ideas from other people. Or they are based on stories in radio and television. These are prejudices. And snap judgements based on prejudice are often wrong. Often, a person’s appearance does not tell us much about who they are or what they are like.

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It is natural to make snap judgements about other people. However, these judgements are not always true. For example, imagine that you see a person with a different skin color than yours. You may have a thought like “I am smarter than he is” or “He is mean”. These are not good snap judgements. Thoughts like these are judgements about a person’s character and abilities.

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Sometimes, we need to make a quick decision about a person to protect our own lives. If we see someone carrying a weapon, it would be right to make the snap judgement to hide or run away.

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People make snap judgements every single day. But we can decide how we let the snap judgements affect our lives. It is important to be careful not to let these quick decisions change the way we think of a person. Think of how your snap judgements affect your everyday life. You could surprise yourself.

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We will tell another story about snap judgements for members of our YouTube channel. Members get access to exclusive videos, PDFs of scripts, and can join our private Spotlight English Facebook group. We hope you make a snap judgement to check it out! If you are on YouTube, click Join below.

Click here to learn more about becoming a YouTube member

Voice 1 

What kinds of snap judgements do you make? Have you ever regretted a quick decision? Tell us what you think. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at You can also find us on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.

Voice 2 

The writer of today’s program was Erin Layman. The producer was Liz Waid. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called “How Your Quick Decisions Can Change Your Life”.

Voice 1 

Visit our website to download our free official app for Android and Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!


What kinds of snap judgments, or quick decisions, do you make? Do you usually trust your quick decisions?



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  • in our life must have decision in any cases. It can true or wrong but I think we should believe in ourselves. This is the best way helps our decision which agreed by someone and even it can bring to our the good results.

  • Making an immediate decision is very important in my life. The fact that I am not influenced by social media or a simple purchase allows me to protect myself; nevertheless, it is a negative memory for me since when I buy anything, I make hasty judgements, which is one of the reasons I make cautious and deliberate choices rather than impulsive ones.

  • my delicious guick olso l don’t know manager deicioun that having for life even in with my hasband or duatgher

  • I think taking a quick decision is better than nothing. If it’s a wrong decision, we will take an experience for next time.

  • When I walk down the streets and see a strange guy approaching I get nervous and cross the street. I have also made quick decisions when getting on the bus and I always look before I sit down at someone I consider normal or somewhat familiar.

  • I make a quick decision on what I crave to eat
    It depends on the last meal usually
    But I feel a lot of time regretting for my quick decision

  • What kinds of snap judgments, or quick decisions, do you make?
    i usually make quick decisions when im driving, or when i play any sport, like football.

    Do you usually trust your quick decisions?
    Yes, i do, usually i trust in my owm quick decisions.

  • in my life I like to make quick but effective decisions, I think about things a bit and then I decide instantly

  • I always make snap judgments, when I’m angry, but in the end I try to be better. I usually trust my decisions because I am not enraged

  • I think I don’t make hasty decisions. if I make quick decisions, if I trust, because i was based on something.

  • I usually make very quick decisions when I’m very angry. I don’t trust the decisions I make because I often react badly or regret it.

  • I make quick decisions when for me they are not important decisions.
    I always try to think before making any decision.

  • I make snap judgments when a think somebody is a liar and feel a don’t can’t confide in this person.

    I usually think that a lof my quick decisions are trust

  • when judging a person, yes because of the experience he has when making decisions

  • I usually make quick decisions when the situation forces me to and if I usually trust those decisions

  • I usually run when they ask me for the time in the street

    no i usually I don’t trust my decisions

  • I usually make quick decisions when the situation calls for it or it is an emergency. I don’t like to make quick decisions because they usually turn out badly

  • What kind of snap judgments or snap decisions do you make? Do you usually trust your quick decisions?

    I can’t make quick decisions because I always overthink everything, maybe it’s because I’m very insecure

  • Often, the people put the snap judgment or quick decision on race or religion or appearance this snap judgement usually wrong .I am trying recognize the different people this makes me open the mind and heart of kinds cultures and tradition in the all world .And quick decision is very important a being survive when accidents or solve life problems.

  • When I meet someone for the first time, I judge them, but I keep my judgment to myself. Sometimes our decisions are right, sometimes not, and I always follow what I feel comfortable with, whether it is right or wrong.

  • Sadly im a hasty person , its hurt me sometime but at all its useful in a hard time so you need to learn how to make it useful or danger to your life

  • Actually when I was younger than that I used to be patient towards judgements overall towards people or situations. But now it’s Abit different I make assumptions based on their looks because of my past experiences nevertheless I limit and stop myself from these assumptions cause I know not all people are the same and I need to remind myself of my valued and principles and never be a suspicious and quick judging person like my father, I hate the way he always judge people and makebad assumptions Abt them just to glorify himself better than people he thinks he’s better than people and more honest and worthy. That’s why I don’t want to be like him at all, other than that iam a really quick thinker but at times I can be really hesitant Abt deciding is it worth actual action or not and I also struggle as I think there’s always a better way to do things that’s why when I become ruthless I hold myself back to think of a better option and be leisurely

  • I don’t usually make quick decisions, I always take the time to think about it. but sometimes if I trust the first decision

  • I don’t usually make quick decisions, I always take the time to think about it. But sometimes I trust the first decision.

  • Every day I make decisions, for example what time I am going to wake up, what time I am going to bathe, what I am going to have breakfast, I decide if I am going to go out to exercise or not, what I am going to have breakfast or what I am going to have dinner

  • What kind of snap judgments or snap decisions do you make?

    Normally I don’t make quick decisions but I do make quick decisions on simple things such as eating or not eating, drinking water or not drinking water, sleeping or not sleeping.
    decisions like that

    Do you usually trust your quick decisions?

    When I make quick decisions about important things, it’s because I’m not sure what I’m going to do, so I do the first thing my intuition tells me.

  • What kinds of snap judgments, or quick decisions, do you make?

    I make quick decisions when organizing my day, like going to the gym, what I’m going to eat or with my friends when it comes to going out with them

    I am a very organized person and I always try to make the best decision in each situation, so I like to think very well and I don’t usually make quick decisions but I think that in certain situations quick decisions are more necessary

    Do you usually trust your quick decisions?

    I don’t usually make decisions because I don’t totally trust my intuition, although when I make quick decisions they usually have a good response.

  • I do not usually do that, i don’t like it, i am a person who analyzes things a lot, even to the simplest, if i make a decision it is because i have already seen all its possibilities.

  • Often when I’m angry I make it quick decisions like I don’t accept any idea or advice. Also, I see people badly without to speak with them and I know what they mean and it became to think In a nervous way. Even sometimes I choose things I hate it when I’m nervous such as I speak by noise and loud voice even though my personality it’s quiet. As well, when l understand people of a wrong way I feel regret for my mistake. Finally, I hate to take a quick decisions because causes me bad results it affects me negatively.

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