Ms. C. Sharp
Mar 24, 10
people fascinated with the topic of intuition or first impressions
Read in March, 2008
Malcolm Gladwell has written a book about the power of first impressions (aka intuition/ your gut feeling). He provides a series of anecdotes about the process of first reactions including a tale about a forged ancient Greek statue at the Getty that some experts deemed as authentic and others classified as a fake upon sight. In another anecdote, he scrutinizes a "couples lab" where psychologist John Gottman determines if a matched pair will last the test of time by studying their conversation for 15 minutes - -he accurately predicts their fate about 90% of the time.
Gladwell coins the term "thin-slicing" to capture these small snippets in time when a human judges a situation in an instant like a first date, hiring an employee, or meeting a new colleague. Human beings tend to take a first glance and "thin-slice" what they perceive through sight or interactions with the situation or individual. Rapid fire cognition is scary to many individuals and Gladwell believes that if "we paid more attention to those fleeting moments...it would change the way wars are fought, the kinds of products we see on the shelves, the kinds of movies that get made, the way police officers are trained, the way couples are counseled...If you combine all those little changes together, you end up with a different and happier world." How profound! He is attempting to bring psychology to the masses and does so artfully, choosing his words and sharping his ideas with high-interest examples to engage the reader. Gladwell further discusses "priming," a term used to refer to subtle triggers that influence human behavior without any awareness of such changes (ex. Spain played classical music on subways and littering and vandalism decreased).
The book incited much discussion with my book club membership- - thought provoking questions and topics selected from the Blink Reading Group Guide, but membership barely scratched the surface in their debate. This book caused the group to make many connections to their own lives and world. Conversation often digressed into self-reflective wondering or observations.
Gladwell wants all readers to believe that intuition is often more reliable that reasoning and a series of data. But is that really the case? One criticism - he never addresses the brain in a scientific manner. In my own experience, I have learned (and am still learning) that I need to pay more attention to my intuition, my first gut instinct. I do not always think that "thin-slicing" is as reliable as collecting data and observations in many instances, but there is something to say about my first impressions of situations or people. I need to have more confidence about my "gut impressions" and have more faith in ME. Gladwell's book Blink substantiated that there is a certain degree of accuracy in my intuition.