Friday, June 18, 2010


In blink the talented staff writer at The New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell, attempts to decode the power of first impressions.

Throughout the novel, Gladwell notes the power of thinking without thinking- about "hunches," and "gut-feelings"- and the important role these snap decisions play in our lives- both for better and for worse. According to Gladwell, each of our brains contain a backstage process, which denotes its decree subconsciously- a phenomenon we tend to call intuition. Through this process we have the ability to sift through huge amounts of information, blend data, and isolate important details- thus enabling us to come to rapid conclusions, even within the first two seconds of perceiving something. '' 'Blink' is a book about those first two seconds,'' Gladwell writes.

Blink quickly moves through examples of this amazing process we call intuition and just how accurate and interesting it really can be. A great example is the story of the psychologist who since the 1980's has worked with more than 3,000 couples in his ''love lab,'' near the University of Washington. He videotapes them having a normal, everyday conversation. Reviewing just an hour's worth of each tape, the psychologist and his team have been able to predict with 95 percent accuracy whether that couple will still be married 15 years later.

Gladwell also points out a few bad points of using one's intuition, and how it can easily lead one astray-- but he is careful not to dwell on this subject for long. Making invalid first impressions seem to be an uncommon exception, only occurring in extreme environments.

While Blink is exceedingly thought-provoking, it is also a bit translucent: Gladwell wants us to begin to look at our brains as super-computers, and to trust our "gut-instincts" which our brains put-out as being just as reliable as painstaking research and data-gathering. Also, although Gladwell is quick to give his readership many examples of the benefits (and a few pitfalls) of first impressions, he never goes into detail as to how our brains are capable of doing what they do.

With all of this being said, I highly recommend Blink, it contains great insight as to how snap decisions play a role in everything from purchasing any given item, endorsing a politician, and deciding whether someone is a violent criminal.


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