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Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

by Malcolm Gladwell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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19,995367187 (3.74)213
How do we think without thinking, seem to make choices in an instant--in the blink of an eye--that actually aren't as simple as they seem? Why are some people brilliant decision makers, while others are consistently inept? Why do some people follow their instincts and win, while others end up stumbling into error? And why are the best decisions often those that are impossible to explain to others? Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology, the author reveals that great decision makers aren't those who process the most information or spend the most time deliberating, but those who have perfected the art of filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables.… (more)
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» See also 213 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 359 (next | show all)
Very interesting book about how our intuition is often better than we think. ( )
  kslade | Dec 8, 2022 |
This book explores the way people make decisions, particularly snap judgments, which are based on the unconscious mind. The author speaks to the importance of the first two seconds of any encounter, pointing out examples of where access to more information leads to less optimal decisions. He offers a number of case studies to support his assertions. These studies include such wide-ranging topics as the election of Warren G. Harding, the New Coke debacle, war games, orchestra auditions, police shootings, and authenticity of works of art. He shows how these first impressions can be distorted, especially in stressful situations. He explains how quick decisions can be improved through repeated exposures.

The author obviously loves his subject, and he occasionally goes overboard in providing detail. For example, he covers facial recognition patterns down to the names of the muscles in the face. Unlike some of his other books, it is harder to figure out how to bring these concepts down to an individual level. I always enjoy finding out more about how the human mind works.
( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
Not much to add to the 365 reviews in LT to date. A nice short read that essentially says that gut feelings are often the best way to go, but with a warning that it exposes our hidden biases which can have poor/bad outcomes. Starts well, but gets a bit muddy. ( )
  robeik | Aug 31, 2022 |
I was a little skeptical of this book at first (partially because it is so popular; I tend to distrust popular things), but it was interesting. The author likes to think of it as an "adventure story" about how people think. The book is about how people can make split second decisions that are surprisingly good. He goes into some depth about what makes for good decisions and what makes for bad decisions. The essence of it is that you should trust your intuitions in areas where you have deep knowledge, but should not trust your intuitions in areas where you are likely to have bias. Of course, in between those two extremes is a large gray area.

According to Gladwell, the reason why such split second decisions have a tendency to be better than more reasoned decisions is that there is usually a core of relevant information which you perceive quickly. Gathering more data and ruminating may distract you from what is really important in your judgment. This explains why these intuitive decisions work well for experts: experts are good at quickly focusing on the key attributes of what they are observing.

However, even experts fail in their split second judgment when they are judging something that is completely new. Split second judgment is a type of pattern matching, almost stereotyping. If something does not fit your preexisting mental model, then you are likely to misjudge it, even if you are an expert in that area. In our mental models, "bad" often seems the same as "novel", and it takes a real awareness of your intuition to distinguish between the two.

One interesting point that Gladwell brings up is that in day-to-day situations, the judgment of non-experts may be as good as experts. Gladwell brings up an example of ranking different brands of jam; a group of students did nearly as well as a group of experts. However, what was most interesting is that the resemblance only held for the group that just had to rank the jams. The novice group that had to rank the jams and explain why did terribly; the very act of explaining made them second guess their judgment. One way of describing an expert might be someone who has good judgment and can explain why their judgments are correct.

You may have noticed that I used the word "intuition" interchangeably with "split second judgment" and other phrases. Gladwell does not actually like the word intuition; he thinks it makes a perfectly rational and understandable process seem mystical and vague. I thought it was kind of silly of him to toss out a perfectly functional word for more verbose phases.

Gladwell says in the epilogue that he went into this book meaning to do nothing more than write an intellectual adventure story. By the end, he realized that that this book does call on people to take action. He tells the story of how making orchestra auditions blind, orchestras have managed to greatly equalize the gender disparity in that field. By removing the irrelevant information (gender) the conductors were able to better judge the relevant information (musical skill). This made Gladwell realize that this book did have a message. First, we should each be aware of our own thinking processes to try to refine our intuitive judgments and recognize when we are biased.

Second, we should look for ways of removing judgment bias from various institutions to try to address social inequality. The second is particularly important because removing forms of bias seems likely to be much more effective and much less resented than top-down solutions like affirmative action. However, and Gladwell admits this, removing bias is not as easy in most of life as it is in orchestra auditions. It is hard to hide things such as gender in any sort of interview that requires assessment of verbal communication skills. Even if you can get over that hurdle, you still have to face that fact that people hired under unbiased processes may still face bias on the job (as has been the case for some of the women who initially made it into orchestras with the aid of blind auditions).

Overall, the book was a good, quick, entertaining read that provided some food for thought. I would recommend reading it if you are interested in the workings of the mind, especially if you are someone who usually finds non-fiction a bit too dull and dense. ( )
  eri_kars | Jul 10, 2022 |
What an interesting book. It looks at our biases in the first few seconds and how sometimes it is right and sometimes not. I had been planning on reading this for a while and am so glad I did. It is an easy read. I highly recommend it. ( )
  KyleneJones | Apr 25, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 359 (next | show all)
Beyond question, Gladwell has succeeded in his avowed aim. Though perhaps less immediately seductive than the title and theme of The Tipping Point, Blink satisfies and gratifies.
 
If you want to trust my snap judgment, buy this book: you'll be delighted. If you want to trust my more reflective second judgment, buy it: you'll be delighted but frustrated, troubled and left wanting more.
 
"Blink" brims with surprising insights about our world and ourselves, ideas that you'll have a hard time getting out of your head, things you'll itch to share with all your friends.
added by stephmo | editSalon.com, Farhad Manjoo (Jan 13, 2005)
 
You can't judge a book by its cover. But Gladwell had me at hello — and kept me hooked to the final page.
 
As a researcher, Gladwell doesn't break much new ground. But he's talented at popularizing others' research. He's a clever storyteller who synthesizes and translates the work of psychologists, market researchers and criminologists.
added by stephmo | editUSA Today, Bob Minzesheimer (Jan 10, 2005)
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gladwell, MalcolmAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Charron, DanielleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gladwell, MalcolmNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my parents, Joyce and Graham Gladwell
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In September of 1983, an art dealer by the name of Gianfranco Becchina approached the J. Paul Getty Museum in California. (Introduction)
Some years ago, a young couple came to the University of Washington to visit the laboratory of a psychologist named John Gottman.
Quotations
We have come to confuse information with understanding.
We live in a world that assumes that the quality of a decision is directly related to the time and effort that went into making it.
The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.
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How do we think without thinking, seem to make choices in an instant--in the blink of an eye--that actually aren't as simple as they seem? Why are some people brilliant decision makers, while others are consistently inept? Why do some people follow their instincts and win, while others end up stumbling into error? And why are the best decisions often those that are impossible to explain to others? Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology, the author reveals that great decision makers aren't those who process the most information or spend the most time deliberating, but those who have perfected the art of filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables.

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Hachette Book Group

5 editions of this book were published by Hachette Book Group.

Editions: 0316172324, 0316010669, 1586217194, 1586217615, 0316011789

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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