Sheila's Reviews > Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
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's review
Jul 16, 2007

really liked it
Recommended for: Everyone
Read in July, 2007

This book was really interesting. It discusses the way in which people can "thin-slice" a situation in a matter of seconds and make a judgement. This is where pre-conceived notions such as stereotypes can affect the way we react to something under a time constraint. It's about how our unconscious mind figures things out and affects how we feel or affects our actions before we even realize what is happening. Even if you aren't a racist, you can be programmed to act as a racist by the things you are exposed to in society. Even if you don't think you are sexist, you are more sexist than you think, due to programming. We associate things like home with mother and work with father. Examined in the book are police brutality, predictions of whether a couple will stay together (just by examining 15 min. of conversation), reading facial expressions, how one firefighter was able to thin slice a situation so quickly that he was able to save his men.

The study I found most interesting was the analysis of an autistic man. We have a part of our brain we use for facial recognition and another part we use for object recognition. The autistic man used the object part of his brain for both facial recognition and for things like recognizing that an object was a chair. The autistic man would watch a movie and not "get" the emotional things happening because he barely paid attention to faces and didn't distinguish meaning from them. A new police officer, for example, in a time of distress where his heart is racing, he just finished chasing a man in his car for an hour, will become "autistic" so to speak because he ignores all cues and shoots a man to death. All he perceives is a threat and he forgets the person. A police officer with more experience will be able to "thin slice" the situation better in a matter of seconds and avoid an unecessary shooting.

In order to be a good "thin-slicer", you probably have a lot of experience with what you are examining and it just becomes second nature. Some people are just naturally good at reading faces, predicting outcomes, and making those snap decisions that happen in the blink of an eye. Others, well, not as good! I feel that the book could use more focus, but overall, a good read.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the mysterious ways our minds work.
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