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Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

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Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology and displaying all of the brilliance that made The Tipping Point a classic, Blink changes the way you'll understand every decision you make. Never again will you think about thinking the same way.

Malcolm Gladwell redefined how we understand the world around us. Now, in Blink, he revolutionizes the way we understand the world within. Blink is a book about how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made 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? How do our brains really work - in the office, in the classroom, in the kitchen, and in the bedroom? And why are the best decisions often those that are impossible to explain to others?

In Blink we meet the psychologist who has learned to predict whether a marriage will last, based on a few minutes of observing a couple; the tennis coach who knows when a player will double-fault before the racket even makes contact with the ball; the antiquities experts who recognize a fake at a glance. Here, too, are great failures of "blink": the election of Warren Harding; "New Coke"; and the shooting of Amadou Diallo by police. Blink 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 "thin-slicing" - filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables.

296 pages, Paperback

First published January 11, 2005

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About the author

Malcolm Gladwell

109 books33.2k followers
Malcolm Gladwell is the author of five New York Times bestsellers—The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, What the Dog Saw, and David and Goliath. He is also the co-founder of Pushkin Industries, an audio content company that produces the podcasts Revisionist History, which reconsiders things both overlooked and misunderstood, and Broken Record, where he, Rick Rubin, and Bruce Headlam interview musicians across a wide range of genres. Gladwell has been included in the TIME 100 Most Influential People list and touted as one of Foreign Policy's Top Global Thinkers.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 17,570 reviews
Profile Image for Matt Kosinski.
16 reviews39 followers
October 18, 2007
Here's Blink in a nutshell:

Split decisions can be good; better than decisions where we take a lot of time to carefully weigh our options and use scientific evidence.

Except when they're not.

Rapid cognition is an exciting and powerful way to use your brain's quick, intuitive capabilities to make stunningly accurate decisions, and can even lead you to have better success in sports, business and politics.

Except when it won't.

We should learn to trust our snap judgments, even in seemingly complex situations where we don't have a lot of information.

Except not really.

Basically the book gives scientific and anecdotal evidence on why rapid cognition can be both a good and bad thing, without offering us much advise on how to tell the difference between situations where we should or shouldn't trust our instincts.

There are many times when I felt that Gladwell contradicted himself. To support his "rapid cognition is good" section of the book, he uses an example of a psychological test where students were able to tell whether or not a professor was good at their job by simply watching a 5 second clip of them lecturing with the sound turned off. The results basically corresponded with impressions given by other students who spent an entire class with those professors - thus proving that there is some mysterious and powerful part of our subconscious that can make accurate snap judgments.

But then later on in the book, in the "rapid cognition is bad" section, Gladwell warns us that, in general, people instantly like tall, attractive white people better than short, unattractive minorities.


Mystery solved!

While Gladwell brings up some interesting concepts, his book never gels into a coherent whole. I read most of it in under a day and already my rapid cognition is telling me it's not worth finishing.
Profile Image for Doc Opp.
442 reviews188 followers
April 30, 2007
As an empirical psychologist by training, I get very annoyed at journalists who simplify things to the point that its no longer even remotely accurate. Such is the case for Blink. This is especially annoying to me, because the book describes my area of research specialization. If you're interested in a fun read, Gladwell is certainly an engaging author. If you're looking for something that accurately describes the research, I'd recommend looking elsewhere.

For example, Scott Plous's "the psychology of judgment and decision making" (which, despite the title, is not textbook like), or the Heath brothers' "Made to stick".
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,568 reviews55.6k followers
February 4, 2022
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell

The author describes the main subject of his book as "thin-slicing": our ability to use limited information from a very narrow period of experience to come to a conclusion.

The book begins with the story of the Getty Kouros (Archaic Greek sculptors reduced human anatomy and musculature in these statues to decorative patterning on the surface of the marble.), which was a statue brought to the J. Paul Getty Museum in California.

It was thought by many experts to be legitimate, but when others first looked at it, their initial responses were skeptical. For example, George Despinis, head of the Acropolis Museum in Athens, said "Anyone who has ever seen a sculpture coming out of the ground could tell that thing has never been in the ground".

عنوانهای نسخه های ترجمه شده به فارسی از این کتاب: «تصمیم آنی»؛ «در یک چشم به هم زدن: اندیشیدن بدون اندیشیدن»؛ «در یک چشم به هم زدن قدرت تفکر خود را بدون فکر کردن درخشان نمائید با خواندن این کتاب اعتماد به نفس خود را بدست آورید»؛ «یک نگاه؛ با یک نگاه: هنر فکر کردن بدون فکر کردن»؛ «چشمک»؛ «نگاه اول: سفری به دنیای ناشناخته و پراعجاز ضمیر ناخودآگاه»؛ «هنر ظریف فکر‌خوانی»؛ «در یک چشم به هم زدن»؛ «در یک چشم برهم زدن»؛ نویسنده: مالکولم گلادول؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز دهم ماه سپتامبر سال2009میلادی

عنوان: تصمیم آنی؛ نویسنده: مالکولم گلادول؛ مترجم: عباس‌مظاهری؛ تهران: میثاق همکاران، سال1385؛ در420ص؛ شابک9649576029؛ موضوع: شهود از نویسندگان کانادا - سده21م

عنوان: در یک چشم به هم زدن: اندیشیدن بدون اندیشیدن؛ نویسنده: ملکوم گلدول؛ مترجم: مهدی قراچه‌داغی؛ تهران: پیکان، سال‏‫1386؛ در220ص؛ شابک9789643285784؛

عنوان: در یک چشم به هم زدن قدرت تفکر خود را بدون فکر کردن درخشان نمائید با خواندن این کتاب اعتماد به نفس خود را بدست آورید؛ نویسنده مالکوم گلدول؛ مترجم: نوید گوران؛ تهران: لبیب، سال1386؛ در306ص؛ شابک9789649482453؛

عنوان: یک نگاه؛ نویسنده: مالکوم گلدول؛ مترجم: زهره خلیلی؛ تهران نشر قطره‏‫، سال1387؛ در248ص؛ شابک9789643417857؛

عنوان: با یک نگاه: هنر فکر کردن بدون فکر کردن؛ نویسنده مالکوم گلدول؛ مترجم نوشین ریشهری؛ تهران عصر شبکه، سال‏‫‏1389؛ در258 ص؛ شابک9789649568188؛

عنوان: چشمک؛ نویسنده: مالکولم گلادول؛ مترجم: کیومرث پارسای؛ ویراستار اصغر اندرودی؛ کرج: در دانش بهمن، سال‏‫‏1393؛ در226ص؛ شابک9789641740681؛

عنوان: نگاه اول: سفری به دنیای ناشناخته و پراعجاز ضمیر ناخودآگاه؛ نویسنده: مالکوم گلد��ل؛ مترجم میترا کدخدایان؛ تهران، مروارید؛ سال1390؛ در264ص؛ شابک9789641911883؛

عنوان: هنر ظریف فکر‌خوانی؛ نویسنده: مالکم گلدول؛ مترجم: سپیده علی‌کاشانی؛ تهران: نشر حریر شرکت سهامی انتشار‏‫، سال1391؛ در168ص؛ شابک9789642870295؛

عنوان: در یک چشم به هم زدن؛ نویسنده: مالکوم گلدول؛ مترجم: راحله حسن‌زاده؛ با مقدمه‌ای از علی میرصادقی؛ تهران نشر بارسا، سال‏‫1395؛ در229ص؛ شابک9786009682454؛

عنوان: در یک چشم برهم زدن؛ نویسنده: مالکوم گلدول ؛ مترجمان: سپیده علی‌کاشانی، محمد ناصح؛ تهران آنیسا‏‫، سال‫1396؛ در243ص، مصور، جدول، نمودار، شابک9789649311616؛‬‬

چشمک؛ یک نگاه، و عنوانهای دیگر که آن بالا نگاشته ام، عنوانهای برگزیده شده ی مترجمین تنها یک کتاب هستند؛ کتابی درباره ی این‌که، چگونه بدون اندیشیدن میاندیشیم، درباره ی تصمیم‌هایی است، که در یک لحظه گرفته می‌شوند ــ در یک چشم به‌ هم زدن ــ؛ و همه ی این‌ها به آن سادگی‌ها که به‌ دیده می‌آیند، نیستند؛ چرا برخی از افراد، تصمیم‌ گیرهای والایی هستند، در حالی‌که برخی دیگر ناتوانند؟ چرا برخی پیرو غرایزشان هستند، و برنده می‌شوند، در حالی‌که عده‌ ای دیگر، در اشتباه، دست‌ و پا می‌زنند؟ مغز ما، واقعا در اداره، در کلاس، در آشپزخانه، و در خانه، چگونه کار می‌کند؟ و چرا اغلب بهترین تصمیمات، آن‌هایی هستند، که توضیحشان برای دیگران، ناممکن است؟

در کتاب «یک نگاه»، با روان‌شناسی آشنا می‌شویم، که می‌داند چطور با مشاهده ی چند دقیقه‌ ای صحبت زوج‌ها، طول زندگی زناشویی آن‌ها را، پیش‌بینی کند؛ مربی تنیسی، که می‌داند، پیش از اصابت راکت با توپ، آیا بازیکن خطا می‌کند، یا خیر؛ متخصصان عتیقه‌ شناسی، که با یک نگاه، اصل بودن، یا تقلبی بودن آن شی‌ء را، تشخیص می‌دهند؛

هم‌چنین شکست‌های بزرگ، قضاوت در یک نگاه نیز، در این کتاب شرح داده می‌شوند: انتخاب «وارن هاردینگ»؛ تولید کوکای جدید؛ و کشتن «دیالو» توسط پلیس را؛ کتاب «یک نگاه» فاش می‌کند، که تصمیم‌ گیرنده‌ های بزرگ، آن‌هایی نیستند، که بیشترین اطلاعات را فرآوری می‌کنند، یا بیشترین زمان را، صرف اندیشیدن می‌نمایند، بلکه کسانی هستند، که هنر تمام عیار «برش نازک» را، دارند، یعنی از بین انواع ویژگیهای مربوط به یک مسئله، اصلی‌ترین آن‌ها را جدا می‌کنند

نقل نمونه متن: (پیش درآمد: مجسمه ای که اصل نبود؛ در سپتامبر سال1983میلادی، یک دلال آثار هنری به نام «جیان فرانکو به چینا» به موزه «پاول گتی کالیفرنیا» مراجعه کرد؛ او ادعا میکرد، مجسمه مرمرینی در اختیار دارد، که متعلق به شش سده پیش از میلاد است؛ این مجسمه معروف به «کورس» بود ـ مجسمه ای از یک مرد جوان برهنه ایستاده، با دستانی از دوطرف آویخته، و پای چپ جلو نهاده؛ تا آن زمان در حدود دویست مجسمه کورسی از حفاریهای باستانشناسی، یا گورهای قدیمی به دست آمده بود، که اغلب آنها در هنگام اکتشاف، یا متلاشی شده بودند، و یا بدجوری آسیب دیده بودند، اما این یکی تقریبا سالم مانده بود؛ ارتفاع این مجسمه نزدیک به دومتر و بیست و پنج سانتیمتر بود، و شفافیتی داشت که آن را از بقیه مجسمه های اکتشافی متمایز میکرد؛ این یک کشف خارق العاده بود، و مبلغ پیشنهادی «به چینا» زیر ده میلیون دلار بود؛ موزه «گتی» با احتیاط وارد عمل شد؛ مجسمه «کورس» را به امانت گرفت، و تحقیق دقیقی را شروع کرد؛ آیا مجسمه با بقیه مجسمه های کورسی همخوانی داشت؟ جواب به ظاهر آری بود؛ شیوه ی ساخت آن به نظر مشابه مجسمه «کورس آناویسوس» در موزه ملی باستان شناسی «آتن» بود، و معنایش این بود که با زمان و مکان خاصی مطابقت داشت؛ این مجسمه از کجا و چه زمانی پیدا شده بود؟ هیچکس به طور دقیق نمیدانست؛ اما «به چینا» مدارکی به اداره حقوقی موزه «گتی» ارائه داد، که حاوی تاریخچه اخیر آن بود؛ طبق مدارک موجود، «کورس» از سال1930میلادی، در کلکسیون خصوصی یک پزشک «سوییسی» به نام «لوفن برگر» نگهداری میشد، که خود او نیز آن را از دلال معروف آثار هنری «یونانی» به نام «روسس» خریده بود؛ برای بررسیهای دقیق، زمین شناسی به نام «استنلی مارگولیس» از دانشگاه «کالیفرنیا» به موزه آمد، و به مدت دو روز سطح مجسمه را با یک استریو میکروسکوپ بسیار حساس مورد آزمایش قرار داد، و بعد از زیر زانوی راست مجسمه، تکه ای به قطر یک سانتیمتر و طول دو سانتیمتر جدا کرد، و با استفاده از میکروسکوپ الکترونی، اشعه انکساری ایکس و اشعه فلورسنسی ایکس به تجزیه آن پرداخت

مارگولیس به این نتیجه رسید، که مجسمه از سنگ مرمر «دُلومیت» معدن قدیمی «کیپ وتی» در جزیره «تاسوس» ساخته شده، و سطح مجسمه با لایه ی نازکی از کربنات آهک پوشیده شده است ــ که به گفته وی از اهمیت خاصی برخوردار بود ــ زیرا «دُلومیت» تنها در طول قرنها و بلکه هزاره ها میتواند تبدیل به کربنات آهک شود؛ به عبارت دیگر مجسمه شیئی قدیمی بود و تقلبی نبود

موزه «گتی» از این مسئله خشنود بود، و چهارده ماه پس از شروع تحقیقات، با خریدن مجسمه موافقت شد؛ در پاییز سال1986میلادی مجسمه برای اولین بار به نمایش گذاشته شد؛ «نیویورک تایمز» حکایت آنرا در صفحه ی اول خود آورد؛

چند ماه بعد، متصدی اموال عتیقه ی موزه، «ماریون ترو»، گزارشی پرشور و بلندبالا از دستیابی موزه به مجسمه، برای مجله برلینگتون نوشت «اکنون کورس با قامتی برافراشته و دستانی مشت شده حیات مطمئن خویش را که برترین خصلت او و برادرانش است ابراز میکند.» و سپس پیروزمندانه نتیجه گیری کرد «او چه خدا باشد و چه انسان تجسم کامل نیروی تابناک بلوغ هنری غرب است.»؛

با تمام این احوال، مشکلی وجود داشت؛ مجسمه به نظر اصل نمیآمد، اولین کسیکه به این مشکل اشاره کرد، فردی بود به نام «فدریکو زِری»، مورخ هنرشناس «ایتالیایی»، که عضو هیئت امنای موزه نیز بود؛ وقتی «زِری» در دسامبر سال1983میلادی به محل نگهداری مجسمه رفت، تا آن را ببیند، بی اختیار به ناخنهای آن خیره شد؛ البته ن��یخواست توضیحی برای این مسئله بدهد، اما به نظرش یک جای کار ایراد داشت؛ نفر بعدی «اِوِلین هریسون»، یکی از برجسته ترین متخصصان مجسمه های «یونانی» بود، که هنگام معامله نهایی، در «لس آنجلس» بود؛

او چنین به خاطر میآورد: آن زمان «آرتور هافتن» متصدی موزه بود، و ما را برای بازدید برد؛ او با یک حرکت پارچه روی مجسمه را پس زد و گفت، «خُب، این هنوز مال ما نیست اما تا چند هفته دیگر خواهد شد.»؛ و من گفتم: «خیلی متاسفم که این را میشنوم.»، «هریسون» چه دیده بود؟ خودش نمیداند؛ در همان لحظه اول، وقتی «هافتن» پارچه را کنار زده بود، آنچه «هریسون» حس کرده بود، یک الهام بود، یک احساس غریزی از اینکه چیزی آن وسط اشکال داشت؛

چند ماه بعد «هافتن»، «تامس هاوینگ» مدیر سابق موزه «متروپولتین» را برای بازدید از مجسمه، به کارگاه مرمّت موزه برد؛ «هاوینگ» همیشه اولین کلمه ای را که با دیدن چیزی از ذهنش میگذرد یادداشت میکند؛ و هرگز فراموش نمیکند اولین کلمه ای که با دیدن «کورس» از ذهنش گذشت چه بود؛

هاوینگ میگوید: آن کلمه «تازه» بود ــ «تازه»، و «تازه» برای مجسمه ای که دوهزار سال قدمت دارد کلمه مناسبی نیست.؛ «هاوینگ» بعدها که راجع به آن لحظه فکر کرد، فهمید چرا چنین کلمه ای به ذهنش خطور کرده بود: «من در سیسیلی حفاری کرده بودم، جاییکه تکه ها و قطعاتی از این دست پیدا میشوند، اما این یکی به هیچ کدام شبیه نبود؛ به نظر میرسید این مجسمه کورس از توی یکی از همین قوطیهای قهوه مرغوب استارباکس بیرون آمده باشد!»؛ «هاوینگ» رو به «هافتن» پرسید، «آیا برای آن پولی هم پرداخته اید؟» و وقتی با چهره متعجب «هافتن» مواجه شد، گفت، «اگر پرداخته اید سعی کنید پس بگیرید و معامله را فسخ کنید.»؛

مسئولان موزه «گتی» کم کم داشتند نگران میشدند، بنابراین سمپوزیوم ویژه ای در مورد کورس در یونان برپا کردند؛ مجسمه را بسته بندی کردند و به یونان فرستادند، و از متخصصان ارشد مجسمه شناسی دعوت کردند؛ اینبار زمزمه یاس و دلهره بلندتر به گوش میرسید؛ «هریسون» در کنار مردی ایستاده بود که نامش «جرج دِس پینیس» بود، و رئیس موزه «آرکوپولیس آتن»؛ «جرج دس پینیس» نگاهی به کورس انداخت و رنگش پرید؛ او رو به هریسون گفت: «هر کس یکبار در عمرش مجسمه ای را که از دل خاک بیرون کشیده شده، دیده باشد میتواند تشخیص دهد، این یکی زیرزمین نبوده است.» «جورجیوس دانتاس»، رئیس جمعیت باستانشناسی آتن، به محض اینکه مجسمه را دید تنش یخ کرد؛ او گفت: «وقتی برای اولین بار کورس را دیدم احساس کردم انگار شیشه ای بین من و مجسمه کشیده شده است.»؛

در سمپوزیوم، «آنجلوس دِلی وریاس» مدیر موزه «بناکی آتن» نیز گفته های «دانتاس» را تایید کرد؛ او به تفصیل از تناقض بین سبک ساخت مجسمه، و این واقعیت که مرمر آن از معادن تاسوس استخراج شده است، صحبت کرد، و سپس به اصل مطلب رسید؛ چرا او فکر میکرد که مجسمه تقلبی است؟ زیرا وقتی برای اولین بار به آن نگاه انداخته بود موجی از ادراک و دافعه ی حسی در او برانگیخته شده بود؛ زمانیکه سمپوزیوم به پایان رسید در بین اکثر مدعوین این اتفاق نظر وجود داشت، که کورس ابدا آن چیزی نیست که تصور میشد

موزه «گتی» با تمامی متخصصان و وکلای خود و ماهها بررسی دقیق به یک نتیجه رسیده بود، و برخی از برجسته ترین متخصصان مجسمه های یونانی ــ تنها با یک نگاه و احساس دافعه حسی ــ به نتیجه ای دیگر؛ حق با کدام یک بود؟ برای مدتی هیچ چیز مشخص نبود؛ کورس تبدیل به مسئله ای شده بود که متخصصان هنری در کنفرانسهای مختلف بر سر آن بحث و جدل میکردند؛ اما بعد، اندک اندک، ابهامات ماجرای گتی شروع به روشن شدن نمود؛ برای مثال نامه هایی که وکلای گتی به دقت پیگیری کرده بودند و مشخص میکرد که کورس متعلق به یک پزشک سوییسی بوده، جعلی از آب درآمد؛ یکی از نامه هایی که به تاریخ سال1952میلادی بود دارای یک کدپستی بود، که تا بیست سال پس از آن تاریخ هنوز وجود خارجی نداشت؛ نامه دیگری که تاریخ سال1955میلادی را داشت، به یک حساب بانکی اشاره داشت، که تا تاریخ سال1963میلادی هنوز افتتاح نشده بود؛ در اصل نتیجه ی ماهها تحقیق فقط این شد که کورس موزه «گتی» همان سبک مجسمه «آناویسوس» را داشت، اما این نتیجه گیری نیز مورد شک بود؛

هرچه متخصصان مجسمه های یونانی، دقیقتر به آن نگاه میکردند، بیشتر به التقاطی بودن آن پی میبردند؛ هر قسمت از اندام مجسمه مربوط به زمان و مکان متفاوتی بود؛ اندام باریک مرد جوان بیشتر شبیه «کورس تنه آ» بود که در موزه «مونیخ» نگهداری میشد، و موهای خوش حالتش شبیه کورس موزه متروپولتین نیویورک؛ و در این بین پاهایش چیزی نبودند جز هنر مدرن، از قضا این مجسمه از همه بیشتر شبیه مجسمه شکسته و کوچکتری بود، که در سال1990میلادی، توسط یک هنرشناس «بریتانیایی» در «سوییس» پیدا شده بود؛ هر دو مجسمه از یک سنگ مرمر مشابه و با یک سبک تراشیده شده بود؛ اما کورس سوییسی متعلق به گذشته نبود، بلکه در اوایل دهه هشتاد در کارگاهی در رم ساخته شده بود؛ پس تحقیقات علمی که مشخص میکرد سطح مجسمه کورس، تنها پس از قرنها و بلکه هزاره ها، میتواند به چنین شکلی درآید؛ خوب آن نتایج همچندان قطعی نبودند؛ طبق آزمایشها و بررسیهای بعدی زمینشناس دیگری به این نتیجه رسید، که با استفاده از کپک سیب زمینی، میتوان در عرض چند ماه سطح مجسمه مرمر «دلومیتی» را به شکل کهنه و قدیمی درآورد؛ در کاتالوگ موزه «گتی» تصویری از مجسمه «کورس» چاپ شده که زیر آن نوشته شده «حدود پاصد و سی سال قبل از میلاد، یا، مدرن جعلی.»؛ زمانیکه «فدریکو زری» و «اِوِلین هریسون» و «تامس هاوینگ» و «جورجیوس دانتاس» ــ و خیلیهای دیگر ــ با یک نگاه به مجسمه دچار دافعه حسی شدند مطمئنا حق داشتند؛ آنها در همان دو ثانیه اول ـ در یک نگاه ـ به شناختی از ماهیت مجسمه دست یافتند که تیم تخصصی موزه «گتی» پس از چهارده ماه تحقیق هنوز به آن نرسیده بود؛ یک نگاه کتابی است درباره ی همان دو ثانیه نخست)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 03/01/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ 14/11/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Sanjay Gautam.
222 reviews434 followers
July 9, 2021
Blink is- what all the stories, case studies, and arguments add up to- an attempt to understand the magical and mysterious thing called Judgement. Its basic premise is: split second decisions (snap judgements); how they can be good and bad.

Gladwell suggests split-seconds decisions are better than the decisions where we take considerable time to weigh our choices and options. He points out that our mind figure things, people, et al. in a blink of an eye. And it is often that these snap judgements are much more trustworthy than judgements arrived at rationally. But he does not stop here and goes on further: snap judgements can be misleading, too; he termed it Warren Harding error. He suggested that there are some instinctive processes that prevent us to see clearly; and hence cloud our judgements.

Blink is an interesting read. It is very well written, and at the same time engages your attention from the start. And writing is reader friendly, perfectly suitable for a layman.
Profile Image for Margaret Ross.
33 reviews13 followers
August 13, 2007
I think this book wins my prize for Most Easily Misinterpreted to Serve Personal Agendas. Gladwell gets so into the interesting details of the case he's building, he really doesn't emphasize the final conclusions of the book at all, leaving people to think that the interesting details are the whole point, which is unfortunate. But then again, I'm not 100% sure I got the whole point.

Most of the folks I know think that this book is about how a person's gut instincts can be a better read of a situation than a read based on thorough study. Which is an idea that most people love, since they don't want to have to do all that boring study anyhow. What's missing from that analysis is that Gladwell later insists (but only at the very end of the book, and almost in passing) that it's the thorough active training and study of a subject that allow a person to have "true" or "correct" gut reads. The guy who can tell who's getting divorced after 60 seconds of hearing them talk spent years coding verbal and physical cues in couples, studying them intensely for years before he was able to give his 60 second analysis. The art historians were drawing on a vast body of knowledge when they made their judgment about the statue. The cop who read fear instead of aggression and didn't shoot couldn't name what he was seeing, but he'd seen it before. Then he also says that our gut reactions can be easily colored by training we don't even know is there- our prejudices, whether unknown or unacknowledged- influence or reads of a situation as well.

Ultimately, I saw this book as a reaction to and analysis of the Amadou Diallo killing in 1999, with some tips for how to avoid such future tragedies. In that light, I thought it was interesting and even constructive, but only if you pay close attention to the last chapter.
Profile Image for Ashley.
392 reviews26 followers
May 31, 2009
I would put this book in the category of "Freakonomics" and "The Tipping Point." By the same author as the latter title, Malcolm Gladwell, the purpose of this book is to weigh the advantages as well as the disadvantages of the power of the mind's ability to unconsciously leap to conclusions based on what is seen in the proverbial blink of an eye.

While I have read some negative reviews of Gladwell's book, mostly citing that he fails to inform the reader how to know when to go with your gut and when not to, as well as arguments that he urges readers not to follow their gut when the gut instincts are politically incorrect, I have to disagree with many of them. I think that Gladwell's objective in "Blink" is to make the reader simply aware of their gut instincts and to urge them to consider trusting it more frequently than we do. People tend to make decisions that are supported by a litany of rationalizations and explanations, but do we always really have reasons for why we do or think what we do? Gladwell is arguing that we don’t, and that sometimes it takes the unconscious mind to make those decisions for us. On the flip side, he also argues that sometimes we unconsciously make negative decisions based on that same quick judgment and our predetermined stereotypes, such as with people of other sexes or other races than ourselves.

“Blink” was a very complicated book with many facets and it’s hard to explain all of them or review them all without writing an essay. In the end, I think the main goal isn’t perfect knowledge of the subject of thinking without thinking, but rather consideration of it and how it can benefit us or hinder us both individually and as a society.
Profile Image for Diane.
1,079 reviews2,609 followers
June 19, 2015
O, to have the writing career of Malcolm Gladwell. The man pulls interesting case studies from academic research and news headlines, spins it into a book under a general theme, and blammo! He has a bestseller. This formula worked for him with The Tipping Point and then Blink.

Blink is a compelling read, despite its weak overall theme, which is that sometimes split-second decisions are good and sometimes they're bad, and we need to learn when to trust our first impressions and when to discount them (except there's no real way to make that distinction).

The book is a pleasure to read simply because of its case studies. Gladwell throws in so many topics — art, politics, marriage, consumer testing, athletes, war, police shootings, music — that there is bound to be something engaging for everyone. (After reading another one of Gladwell's peppy articles in The New Yorker, my husband joked, "Gladwell thinks he can make ANYTHING seem interesting.")

After finishing Blink, I feel like I've learned something important, but I'm not sure exactly what, other than that Gladwell has a very charmed career.

My rating: 3.5 stars rounded up to 4
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,388 reviews6,653 followers
November 11, 2009
I generally distrust anyone who says that they ‘go-with-their-gut’. But when the company I work for announced a major decision a few years back, I instantly said, “This is going to be a huge mistake.” Smart people had examined the deal backwards and forwards for months and thought it was a great idea. I had a bad feeling about it that I could only later explain, and I was far from the only one. And we were right. The entire thing turned out to be a huge disaster.

I kept thinking about that incident when I read Blink. The book has a pretty obvious point. People make snap decisions that they can’t consciously explain. Sometimes these decisions are correct and amazing based on the limited amount of information available. Art experts who instantly know a statue is fake despite scientific tests indicating otherwise. A fireman who appears to be fighting a routine small fire suddenly orders his men out without really knowing why and the floor collapses a second later. And sometimes these decisions can be wrong and have tragic consequences. Four cops think a guy has a gun when he’s pulling his wallet out and shoot him multiple times.

We’ve all made quick decisions and later been amazed at how good or bad they turned out, but what makes Blink interesting is that Gladwell does some examination of the science behind how we arrive at these conclusions, and his thoughts on how the data we’re processing can either give us incredible insight or lead us horribly wrong.

Thankfully, Gladwell is not making an argument against logical thinking or analyzing a problem. What he is doing is pointing out that instinct or intuition can be a powerful tool IF the people involved have trained themselves to make good decisions, and if we know when to trust it. He’s got a lot of great examples of doctors, military officers and police officers who often have to make life-or-death decisions in a matter of seconds with limited information. They have to trust their instincts, and Gladwell makes some common sense points that the right kind of training and education can make a huge difference. He contrasts the story of the four New York cops who killed the guy with a wallet versus a patrolman who did not fire on someone who actually had a gun but was attempting to surrender it.

What made this book fun to read was the variety of examples that Gladwell uses and the scientific research done with them. Art dealers, doctors, marriage counselors, cops, military officers, car salesmen, a tennis coach, and classical musicians are all used as examples of the strengths and weaknesses of snap decisions. There’s also some simple experiments included that let you play along at home. This is a book that will make you think about the way you think.
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,284 reviews119k followers
August 15, 2014
This was a big best-seller for Gladwell. He posits that much of the time we make decisions, reach conclusions in a sort of pre-conscious manner that he calls “thin-slicing.” That means taking a very small sample, a thin slice, and making a decision immediately based on that information. However, it is the case that the ability to evaluate that slice is fed by a lifetime of experience. It is not simply, as some, including President Bush the second, might believe, that using one’s gut, in the absence of years and years of preparation, is as valid a way of reaching decisions as taking the longer route of careful analysis of available data. No, no, no.
Profile Image for MacKenzie.
6 reviews
September 20, 2007
so i bought this book in boston's logan airport about 10 minutes before i had to board a flight to seattle. the bookstore was limited; i didn't want to have to work to get interested. and the first 100 pages or so did the trick... until i realized that gladwell wasn't so much building an argument as telling stories about a certain topic. don't get me wrong, i finished the book. later. back in boston, on the T. and it did cover some interesting studies, or i wouldn't have done so. but i suspect the author might've lacked the attention span necessary to lend this book any coherence. meh. it was basically a series of loosely related tidbits about snap-judgments, none of which led me to conclude that instinct or intuition is significantly more or less reliable than rational deliberation. if a point could be gleaned and summarized, i guess it would be that with the right thin-slice of information, under the right conditions, instantaneous judgements can be spot-on. shrug. the best i can say about this book is that there were a couple of well-set-up digs at the bush administration and i discovered the music of kenna, who's pretty cool. i also learned that when my girlfriend's eyes get even a little wider, it means she's angry.
Profile Image for seak.
429 reviews475 followers
August 23, 2013
Much like the reason behind my majoring in Economics, I like Gladwell because he opens my mind to new ideas and new ways to think. Much like Economics, I believe he's far from perfect, but I really enjoy viewing the world through his lens.

In just about anything, when people start acting as if there is only one way to do something, I stop listening to them. This goes for many things, but especially politics. If you DO, however, find someone who is omniscient and knows exactly how every policy will turn out in the end, please let me know. I may listen to their one way of seeing the world. Otherwise ...

What I got from Blink is that there is a lot to our instant thoughts and feelings and many times much more than we give them credit. The traditional wisdom is to plan and make huge weighty decisions based on every single bit of information that we have at our fingertips (which is just about everything, google!). This is actually a big reason my wife and I get into ... disagreements (we'll go with that). She likes to plan everything down to the last detail and I like to be a bit more relaxed.

So it would seem that this book is a big proponent of my way of doing things, but it turns out it's not so much.

We should trust our gut-instinct, says Blink, if we have many hours of experience in said realm of understanding because we have developed the skills to make sense of those small details and because we have the ability to "thin slice."

Gladwell also makes the point that not always can we trust our gut-intinct, however, because our gut-instinct tends to be racist, even when we are not in fact consciously racist. Also, our instincts can get overwhelmed by heightened arousal, such as when people can't even dial 911 in an emergency because their senses are overloaded.

But then again, you can practice and have these types of unconscious reactions mitigated.

The interesting story-telling style of introducing these topics is, of course, what really gets me. It's the stories that are often unbelievable that have me clamoring for more, just like in Outliers (although I think Outliers was a little better written) and I would assume his other books.

He goes into why The Getty art museum spent millions on a fake kouros (Greek statue) and why cops probably aren't racial profiling when they beat people like Rodney King, but because of a few key mistakes such as allowing their unconscious to get overwhelmed and also because they were a group of officers instead of just one.

He talks about people who can listen to a couple and tell when they should start talking to their lawyers and people who have developed the actual abilities that are shown in the TV show "Lie to Me." How looking at a person's room for 5 minutes may give a complete stranger a better picture of a person than a good friend.

I've always loved these types of explanations for things. There's the old wisdom we have and the wisdom we assume when we don't have any other way to describe a particular event and which is completely wrong. I love thinking new ideas, even when it's old news and that's why I'll keep coming back to Gladwell.
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,279 reviews21.3k followers
January 20, 2009
Elsewhere, in one of my other recent reviews, a GoodReads friend (Richard) told me that he had become less infatuated with this book after reading a review by a specialist in the field who gave it a drubbing. I was worried that knowing this might ruin this book for me – but it has not. I really enjoyed this one too. This is the third of Gladwell’s books I’ve read in quick succession and this contained lots of information about things that have made me think and sparked my interest to learn more. It may well be that Gladwell’s style does not appeal to an expert in the field – and that is quite likely to be true, but I’ve found that it is often the case that I’ve been introduced to themes by popularisers and later went on to read more deeply on a subject. I rarely condemn those who introduce me to fascinating topics – and this is a fascinating topic.

I’m not going to do a full review, but rather quickly talk about wine. While he was talking about coke and about taste tests I was thinking about wine.

He makes the point that when asked to judge jam people do nearly as well as the experts if they are just asked which jam they liked the most, but do much worse than experts if asked to explain why they graded them in the order that they did. That is, if they have to talk about texture and sweetness and citrus flavours – people change how they judge jam and end up picking the worst jam rather than the best. This is because we don’t really know what ‘texture’ is and so trying to slot jams into categories that we don’t really understand means we are most likely to stuff up and confuse ourselves.

Now, wine. I wonder if anyone has ever done a test at cellar doors to see what people end up buying and if they pick the nicest wine for the price, or do they buy vinegar instead? I wouldn’t mind betting that there would be something similar happening here – and if you are with someone who says things like, “Oh yes, fruity, but with a back-taste of coal tar” you might end up buying something that is quite disgusting. You know, unless you actually have some idea of what you are talking about, it might be best to shut up and drink the wine.

That is the point of this book – learning when to trust your “immediate reactions” and when to question them. I think there is much in this book that is worth knowing and much that is fascinatingly interesting. (The stuff about unconscious racism is so important that everyone should be forced to read this for that alone). But with Richard, I am a little concerned that an expert in the field didn't like this book. All the same, the expert does recommend Made to Stick so I guess that can be the next book I read.

There is – as is proven by Dylan Moran – only one way to pick wine:


Profile Image for Blaine.
712 reviews573 followers
September 21, 2022
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.

We have, as human beings, a storytelling problem. We’re a bit too quick to come up with explanations for things we don’t really have an explanation for.
Blink is an interesting book, full of examples of situations when you would be better off trusting your snap judgment over a long, well-reasoned approach. It’s counterintuitive, and it seems like research may continue to flesh out which items are the ones that should be processed by snap decision (such as the book’s heart attack diagnosis example). But the anecdotes were consistently fascinating, and it even explained why Pepsi always wins the Pepsi Challenge yet Coca Cola always sells more soda. Worth reading! Recommended.
Profile Image for Riku Sayuj.
653 reviews6,924 followers
August 26, 2016

Probably the best among Gladwell's books. He still stands true to his success mantra - "Gladwell - The Power of Inductive Reasoning." But, it was still a well researched and informative book. Blink.
Profile Image for Ayse_.
155 reviews71 followers
July 29, 2018
I reread this after realizing I couldn't remember enough to compare with Kahneman`s book. They are mostly aligning, only Kahneman suggests against making snap judgements and relying more on evidence whereas Gladwell gives views from both sides and stays impartial.

Blink is about unconscious decision making. Our unconscious side is fascinating, because it seems to be the one that holds the strings most of the time; making very fast decisions, watching out for any threat to our existence. However when our drives (the motivators of unconscious) are in conflict, ourrational mind is quick to get in. The rational mind is also there to make corrections, and making plans.

So it seems that mostly we are on autopilot for unimportant things, and also when we have to do something at lightening speed. But at other times even if there is an urge to act instinctively, one should act relying on data rather than on instinct.
Profile Image for Maede.
264 reviews374 followers
November 17, 2020
امتیاز واقعی 3.5

پلیس مرد رو تعقیب می کنه. مرد دستش رو داخل جیبش می کنه. اسلحه همراهش داره یا نه؟ شلیک میکنه یا نه؟ پلیس باید چکار کنه؟ در اون یک لحظه چطور تصمیم میگیره؟

برای اولین بار زوجی رو با هم می بینید. هیچ دعوایی در کار نیست. با هم می خندند و حرف می زنند ولی حس می��نید مشکلی بینشون هست. چه مشکلی؟ مگه همه چیز ظاهرا خوب نیست؟

یک کارشناس هنری از یک گالری نقاشی بازدید میکنه. با دیدن یک اثر بلافاصله حس بدی بهش دست میده. این نقاشی کپی شده. از کجا می دونه؟ فقط میدونه، نمی تونه به راحتی توضیح بده

رزومه حرف نداره. مصاحبه کاری هم خوب پیش رفت و نکته خاصی نبود ولی دوست ندارید این آدم رو استخدام کنید. چرا؟ چه دلیل حرفه ای برای این تصمیمتون دارید؟

این کتاب در مورد همین تصمیم های لحظه ای هست. تصمیم هایی که در مغز ما اما در نقطه ای به دور از رادار آگاهی گرفته می شن و خیلی از رفتارهای ما رو شکل میدن. این تصمیمات می تونن به شدت درست باشند. تجربه ها، اطلاعات و مهارت هایی که در طول زندگی کسب کردیم ممکنه به بهترین نحو در این تصمیم گیری های لحظه ای استفاده بشن و با کمترین داده به بهترین نتیجه برسند
یک پلیس با تجربه با استفاده از بررسی لحظه ای تمام مواجهه های قبلی و مقایسه اون ها تصمیم میگیره که مرد نمی خواد شلیک کنه
یک کارشناس با آنالیز لحظه ای تمام آثاری که در زندگیش دیده تصمیم میگیره که این اثر کپی شده

اما این تصمیم های لحظه ای می تونن همونقدر غلط و گمراه کننده باشند. کافیه از داده های اشتباه استفاده کنند، از تعصبات ریشه دار مغز نسبت به جنسیت ها، رنگ پوست و تمایلات پنهان ما به خصوصیت هایی که در مغز تکاملی ما نشان دهنده ی "برتری" هستند. مثل قد بلند مردان
برای همینه که اون مرد قد کوتاه یا زن غیر جذاب با رزومه ی عالی برای اون شغل مناسب به نظر نمیاد
یا پلیس به مرد سیاه پوستی که داره کیفش رو از جیبش در میاره شلیک می کنه

باور نمی کنید ذهنتون پر از این داده های غلطه؟
نژادپرست نیستید؟
زن و مرد رو برابر می دونید؟
با دگرباش ها مشکلی ندارید؟
این تست ها رو بدید و متوجه چاله های مخفی ذهنتون بشید
Harvard Implicit Association Test

پس نتیجه چیه؟ استفاده از این تصمیم های لحظه ای خوبه یا بده؟
گلدول در این قسمت جواب خاصی نداره. وقتی درسته خیلی خوبه و وقتی غلطه خیلی بده! متخصص و کارشناس بودن احتمال درست بودن این تصمیم ها رو بالا می بره و تعصبات ذهنی باعث ضعفشون میشه
و این دقیقا نقطه ضعف کتابه. ایده ی عالی و ساختار نامشخص. نویسنده حدوداً می دونه می خواد از چی بنویسه و تعداد زیادی مثال برای توضیحش ذکر می کنه ولی کتاب جمع بندی مناسب یا پایه های علمی مستدل تری برای دفاع از خودش نداره

کتاب رو با صدای نویسنده گوش کردم و با وجود ضعف هاش گوش دادن به مثال ها و تحقیقات مختلف واقعا جالب بود. نکته دیگه این بود که دید جدیدی بهم داد و برای بیشتر خوندن در مورد تصمیم گیری کنجکاو شدم

کتاب و صوتیش رو هم مثل همیشه اینجا گذاشتم
Audiobooks are awesome
Profile Image for Paul Weiss.
1,184 reviews124 followers
February 3, 2022
Exciting cutting edge neuroscience and psychology pitched at a level designed to drop a layman’s jaw!

is about first impressions, unconscious thought, data accumulation at a glance, snap judgments and spontaneous, instantaneous high-speed decision making!

In the first chapter, Gladwell summarizes his threefold purpose of writing the book. His first purpose was to convince readers that high speed decisions can be “every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately.” His second purpose was to demonstrate that when those snap judgments and first impressions go off the rails, they do so for a very specific set of quite understandable reasons that are obvious enough on their face to allow decision makers to be on their guard when necessary. Gladwell’s final objective, obviously I dare say, was to convince readers that learning the difference and developing the skill of harking to those snap judgments when it’s appropriate to do so is a learnable skill.

From first page to last, Gladwell’s descriptions of the science, the psychological tests that were used to bolster the scientific conclusions and the anecdotal examples of instances where snap judgments took the day or, ultimately, failed miserably were, in a word, gripping.

For instance, Gladwell’s description of the degree to which facial movements are inextricably linked to emotions is mind-blowing. I dare you to NOT stop and shake your head in dumbfounded amazement when you read, “The face is not a secondary billboard for our internal feelings. It is an equal partner in the emotional process.” Think about that for just a second. Facial expressions not only reflect emotions that already exist. They can create emotions and enhance or depress already existing feelings. You certainly won’t be hearing me expressing any disbelief when I read about a canny detective’s ability to pick up on kinesic “tells” about lying or information withholding during an interrogation any more.

BLINK has lots and lots of succulent meat to chew on – recognition of forged artwork; wartime leadership and decision-making in the heat of battle; the differences between normal perception and autistic perception; judging on appearance; why Coca-Cola made the spectacularly flawed decision to create New Coke; a policeman’s near instantaneous decision to shoot a suspect; and much, much more.

Highly recommended (and THAT, by the way, was NOT a snap decision!)

Paul Weiss
Profile Image for Ed.
855 reviews108 followers
August 23, 2009
I didn't learn much from this book that I did not already know. I am beginning to suspect that Malcolm Gladwell is not writing books that uncover valuable facts that we should know, but rather is writing books that restate facts we already know but in an interesting way.

I like his anecdotal stories very much which is why I finished the book - hoping for more stories. When he lays out the facts, though, his writing is no more interesting than any other scientific author.

So, in summary, what we have is a talented writer making certain scientific findings available to a much wider audience than usual. Bravo! However if you want to learn something new, this book or his previous effort, The Tipping Point, is not where to go to find it. I imagine, if I read it, I will find The Outliers, his latest effort, to be similarly constructed.

Blink's content is easily summarized. First impressions are often more accurate than conclusions arrived at after much study and analysis. Be careful, though, because first impressions can be troublesome because of people's prejudices. Got it in 254 pages. He does come up with an interesting term, "thin slicing", to describe the process of taking in a first impression. Maybe learning that term made reading the whole book worthwhile. Maybe.
Profile Image for Howard.
1,072 reviews63 followers
August 28, 2022
4 Stars for Blink: Power of Thinking Without Thinking (audiobook) by Malcolm Gladwell read by the author.

This was a interesting look into making quick decisions. I think some of the author’s examples worked better than others.
Profile Image for SeyedMahdi Hosseini.
110 reviews66 followers
August 4, 2017
مالکوم گلادول می‌آموزد که گاهی همانند ماجرای مجسمه‌ی کورو یا شبیه‌سازی جنگ، باید به حس خود اعتماد داشته باشیم و تجزیه و تحلیل اضافی جز خراب کردن تصمیممان، فایده‌ای ندارد. (مصداق خطایی که دیگران مانند دوبلی، کانمن و نسیم طالب به عنوان خطای اطلاعات اضافی مطرح می‌کنند)
گاهی هم مانند قضیه‌ی نوشابه‌های پپسی و ماجرای دیالو باید از ناخودآگاه پیروی نکرد و بررسی دقیقتری نمود. البته که تمرین زیاد ممکن است باعث ‌شود متخصصانی بوجود بیایند و مهارتی کسب نمایند که ناخودآگاهشان از خودآگاهشان دقیقتر باشد.
در ماجرای کوک‌کانتی زمانی را توضیح داد که کم، زیاد می‌شود و براساس اطلاعات غیرضروری اضافی پزشکان ممکن است تصمیمهای نادرستی گرفته شود؛ پس نیازی به اینهمه اطلاعات جانبی بیهوده نیست.
یاد داد گاهی باید چشمان را بست و به صدای نواختن ساز گوش داد تا موسیقی را درک و از پیشداوری پرهیز کرد.
گفت زشت و زیبا نسبی هستند و چیزهای عجیب معمولا زشت به نظر می‌رسند ولی ممکن است بعد از مدتی که عادی شدند، نهایت زیبایی باشند و دیگران در تقلید آن از یکدیگر سبقت بگیرند.
توضیح داد برای سنجش لذت بردن یا عدم لذت بردن از بعضی چیزها همانند نوشابه و موسیقی، جرعه‌ای نوشیدن و لحظه‌ای گوش دادن فایده‌ ندارد؛ بلکه باید با آنها زیست.
گلادول اثر هاله را برایم تکرار کرد؛ جایی که وارن هاردینگ که دیگران از روی ظاهر و رفتار تردیدی نداشتند رئیس جمهور بزرگی خواهد شد و ناخودآگاه لقب رئیس جمهور بزرگ را برایش بکار می‌بردند، در زمر��‌ی روسای جمهور بد و ناموفق آمریکا درآمد.
شمّ اقتصادی و تواناییهای ذاتی افراد را به رخ کشید تا خواننده حواسش به استعدادهایش باشد؛ جایی که موفقیتهای جک ولش و افراد مشابهش را مدیون تصمیم‌گیریهای فوری و قدرت نگاه آنها معرفی کرد نه مدیریت، کار زیاد و روشهای مناسب. (البته که بی‌تأثیر هم نیست)
کتاب نسبتا خوب ترجمه شده بود ولی ای کاش مترجم، نوشتار لاتین اسامی فراوانی که در کتاب نام برده شده‌اند را به صورت زیرنویس می‌آورد تا مراجعه به اطلاعات تکمیلی آسانتر باشد یا حداقل بتوانیم این اسمها را درست تلفظ کنیم. ضمنا بعضی جاها می‌توانست توضیحات تکمیلی ارائه کند که جایش واقعا خالی بود. برخی اغلاط تایپی هم در چاپ کتاب مشاهده می‌شد.
شاید بعضی از موضوعات برایم تکراری بود به این دلیل که آنها را از زبان دیگران خوانده بودم ولی برایم ارزشمند بود چرا که اینقدر باید آنها را مطالعه و در آن تفکر کرد تا به مهارت تبدیل شوند.
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,646 reviews436 followers
May 30, 2017
Malcolm Gladwell engagingly writes about how decisions made in a blink--snap judgments--can be very good. A series of entertaining anecdotes and psychological studies show that first impressions can be good in some cases, especially in areas where people have experience. He also writes about experts who analyze facial expressions, and how autistic people have trouble making certain types of judgment calls.

But then he goes on to show how our unconscious mind can also be very prejudiced. Tall men are more likely to become CEOs than short men. Using Warren Harding as an example, he shows that people may vote for a political candidate because they look presidential. Women are less likely to be offered positions in some orchestras unless the auditions are held with the competitors behind a screen, so they are just evaluated on their playing ability. He also includes stories about police officers making snap judgments, and the judicial system handing out longer sentences to minorities.

There were some examples that supported decisions made quickly by the subconscious level, and other examples that showed certain decisions were better when we slowed down and consciously gave things a little more thought. Experience played a big part in having good judgment making quick decisions. Gladwell does not get into how the brain works in making decisions. The book is interesting and entertaining, but it raises as many questions as it answers. 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Otis Chandler.
385 reviews112k followers
October 17, 2006
A must read - really interesting stories about how people process things unconsciously.
- for instance, you can't hide your feeling about race from your unconscious - take the Race Test (http://www.understandingprejudice.org...). It said I (and 13% of test-takers) have a 'moderate automatic preference for European American compared to African American'. It also said 48% of test-takers have a "Strong automatic preference for White people" - crazy!
- I loved the bit about President Warren Harding (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_H...), who - according to the author, basically got elected because he "looked presidential". I firmly believe looks matter - hey after all I do live in CA where we have the Governator...
Profile Image for Karin.
1,313 reviews5 followers
January 16, 2020
3.4 stars

My interest in this book varied by chapter--by far the best one for me was "Seven Seconds in the Bronx" in part because I have a child with a diagnosis on the "spectrum" and in part because it answered my question as to why I now see police officers cruising by themselves (this is for an excellent reason, it turns out, but no spoilers as to why!) While I enjoyed The Tipping Point more, I have to say that I am happy to have read this after that particular chapter. This is not to say it's the only one I found interesting, because at least one other one was quite fascinating for me.

I do plan to read more books by Gladwell in the future.
Profile Image for Greg.
92 reviews149 followers
June 9, 2014
I was really expecting more from this book. I've heard mostly good things about Gladwell, and he had a pretty interesting TED talk, and I enjoy almost anything to do with the brain, so...why not?

The book certainly brought up a lot of interesting ideas and did a good job of discussing the different elements that go into the snap decisions that we make every day. And it's probably worth a read for many of the stories and experiments related. But for the most part this book really failed to impress. More than that though, it failed at being a coherent analysis of what goes on in the human brain when we make snap judgments.

Gladwell alternates between telling us to trust and accept this "mysterious phenomena" that allows us to make these unconscious snap judgments and warning us against the use of these snap judgments. One moment he advises against the idea that we need to slowly collect data and weigh options to make the most informed opinion and provides examples where too much thinking and information leads us astray, and in the next moment gives us examples of how snap judgments sometimes go horribly wrong. And he leaves us with no clear sense of how to use this new found information to make better decisions and judgments in our own lives. Do I trust my insights because my rational brain will fool me, or do I mistrust my instincts because of the inherent bias contained within them? If Gladwell knows he sure didn't tell me.

One example of somewhere where I think he didn't analyze the situation enough was when he talked about the Wisconsin Card Sorting task (pick cards from one of two decks, one deck tends towards bad and the other towards good outcomes). He focused solely on how the unconscious mind was aware of the pattern (which deck was bad and which was good) long before the conscious mind was aware of it when making decisions. And this was shown by the fact that sweating occurred when choosing from the "bad" deck before the subject knew why (or was even aware of it). What he fails to mention about all this is that the reason for this is because we are designed to be "risk averse". It is not because we are making brilliant snap judgments, or that our brains have "learned" the rules before we are aware of it. From an evolutionary perspective it pays off more to learn from our mistakes than learn from our victories. Mistakes are costly. This is why bad memories are more salient than happy ones. The sweating that occurs is a physiological indicator of and means of prompting the organism to stay away. It's not even that this explanation is in contradiction to Gladwell's; it is that it IS an explanation for the phenomena Gladwell describes, one easily at Gladwells' disposal.

Two other aspects of this book stuck out as major frustrations for me:

1) Gladwell spends a lot of time early on talking about the mysterious nature of our ability to thin slice (make accurate snap judgments based on very little information) and urges us to accept this. To his credit, he does attempt to demystify this somewhat later on, but not enough in my opinion. His first example is of a museum that purchased an expensive sculpture which all the data and scientists evaluated as legitimate, but which experts in the field immediately saw as a fake without being able to put into words why. It's purposefully misleading to label this as some sort of mysterious phenomena. For instance, it's important to remember that these people were experts. An amateur would not and could not make this same snap judgment because they don't have the training to. This ability didn't magically appear, it came from learning and training and synaptic change. These experts learned over time. They studied types of stone, and different styles, and everything else that goes into understanding their field. And this process created memories...synaptic change within their brains. And there exists a system (or systems) in the brain that can make decisions based on that neuronal structure without conscious awareness. Shortcuts so to speak. But these shortcuts are a product of that neuronal structure, which is a product of that synaptic change, which is a product of the learning the individual did over time. It's misleading to call this mysterious. What's important, and more interesting in my opinion, is figuring out the underlying processes that allow this to happen.

2) Towards the end of the book Gladwell discusses how our stress response leads us to make all sorts of bad decisions. He talks about autism and how autistic people can't mind read (don't have theories of other minds) and how this affects their interpretation of events around them and of the world in general. He compares what happens to people in stressful situations to this, that during these situations, because the fight or flight response has taken over, people have tunnel vision and can no longer "read minds" and thus make all sorts of mistakes and bad decisions because they are focusing on the wrong things. My issue is that he, incomprehensibly, makes a literal, as opposed to metaphorical, connection with autism. He argues that during these times we become "temporarily autistic". While it's true that one aspect of our behavior becomes similar to an aspect of an autistic individuals behavior during these times, it seems like a pretty ridiculous statement to make as a broad generalization. He spends quite a bit of time talking about this and I don't think it does anyone any good.

In the end I think I was most disappointed by the fact that all the elements to create a good book WERE present here, and the failure is due in large part to how he puts it all together and his ability to analyze all the disparate ideas properly (insert irony here). Evolution has built into us shortcuts to react quickly to stimuli in our environment. Our experience, whether broadly cultural or personal, prunes, enhances, changes those built in shortcuts as we go through life. Some develop as unfair biases towards people of different races. Some develop as we become experts in a subject. Thus some can be trusted and some can't. Our brains can't tell the difference between fact and fiction, only between experience and non experience, and so it's important to be aware of what kind of decision making goes on under the surface and what factors are involved in those decisions so we can be more aware of whether to trust them or not. Other factors can affect decision making, such as our emotional state due to the physiological changes that take place during those times, and this too is important to understand because it radically alters our perception during those times. The most important thing to remember is that experience translates into instinct through synaptic change, and through work and training we can increase the effectiveness of our gut reactions and snap decisions, but due to biases and our altered states during emotional situations those instincts should not always be trusted outright. There you go Malcolm Gladwell, please feel free to use this in the next printing. No citation necessary.
Profile Image for Ms.pegasus.
688 reviews130 followers
August 7, 2014
Gladwell continues his exploration of counter-intuitive ideas about decision-making in BLINK! He opens with a 1983 incident at the J. Paul Getty Museum. The Museum acquired a rare statue from the Greek archaic period. To this day, the Museum maintains that the authenticity of the statue is uncertain. At the time, however, the Museum was certain enough to acquire the piece for just under $10 million. Documentation, and scientific analysis had been relied on as support. However, numerous experts including Metropolitan Museum of Art director Thomas Hoving pronounced it a fake. It was an intuitive pronouncement which presaged problems later uncovered with both the documentation and scientific analysis. This is the first of many stories Gladwell uses to illustrate how an intuitive reaction can trump logic and analysis.

Among the factors that cloud logic is something he calls the adaptive unconscious. It's an unrecognized emotional bias. In the Getty example, the officials wanted the piece to be authentic. It would have been a spectacular acquisition for a newly established museum. This desire diverted critical scrutiny of the supporting evidence. Such an adaptation need not even be emotion based. In an explanation of priming, Gladwell cites psychological studies that illustrate the subconscious effect of pre-conditioning through word lists. Extrapolating from these examples, one might conclude that the casual reader will be highly influenced when reviewing a book by his mood or even surroundings at the time of reading.

Gladwell explores other impediments to logical thinking, logic being a type of perceptual filter. Face recognition, he points out, occurs in a completely different part of the brain, and is an integrated reaction as opposed to the kind of multi-step processing that occurs in dealing with language. Athletic and musical achievement rely on these non-verbal neural processes. His own example cites Paul Van Ripper's success against a team backed by the Pentagon's most sophisticated computers in a war games exercise. The Pentagon team was actually hampered in their decision making by information overload.

Initial reaction, Gladwell points out is not always accurate. He tries to explore this downside as well by citing studies on bias.

Gladwell is an entertaining storyteller as well as an energetic researcher. He draws examples from market research, Chancellorsville in the Civil War, the assessment of heart attacks at Cook County Hospital, speed dating, fire fighting, the auditioning of professional musicians, and the Diallo Incident in the Bronx to illustrate his points. By drawing from such a wide variety of experience, he insures the interest of a broad audience in this book.

NOTE: It's always fun to re-encounter characters from other books. I knew of Thomas Hoving from his book, KING OF THE CONFESSORS. The idea of thin-slice thinking was also explored in HOW WE DECIDE, by Jonah Lehrer. The deconstruction of flavor is discussed from a neurophysiological standpoint in Gordon Shepherd's NEUROGASTRONOMY.
Profile Image for Tasnim Dewan  Orin.
157 reviews79 followers
December 26, 2017
From any psychologist's point of view, this book is full of contradicting psychological facts. Even as a general reader, I find this book says a lot of things but does not actually tell you what it actually wants to address.
But I love this book for totally different reasons. Firstly, I love case studies with interesting results written by someone who can write in a way you will find the whole experience exhilarating. Secondly, this guy deserves a five star because he is making less known but thought-provoking scientific studies to a much wider audience. Thirdly, nowhere it is mentioned in the title it is a book which teaches you how to think without thinking so it is completely understandable why it shows us both the advantages and disadvantages of snap decision making and it completely leaves to the reader to decide when to do what. Finally, I love non-fiction which uses a lot of anecdotes to state a fact rather just directly stating the fact it wants to address.
I recommend it to anyone who loves to read about interesting psychological studies.
Profile Image for Ana.
805 reviews588 followers
February 22, 2017
A really great study on how important the first few seconds of anything can be, in any particular situation. Be it that you're an art expert who instantly knows an object is fake, or a police man who thinks that the victim is pulling a gun out of their pocket rather than a wallet, it's very clear that human beings do have this constant auto-pilot running, an unconscious "survival mode" that gives us most of the clues we might need in the "blink" of an eye, and sometimes those clues might be wrong.
Profile Image for Hannah.
238 reviews60 followers
March 5, 2017
1 Star - Horrible book.

Against my better judgement I gave another one of Malcolm Gladwell's books a try. Oh, what precious reading time I wasted on this book! My feelings on this book are quite similar to how I felt about The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (my review) so I'll keep this review short.

My first thought after finishing this was: did I really just read 200+ pages on what is essentially the good and bad of gut reactions? There was nothing new for me here and that may not entirely be Gladwell's fault but nevertheless I could not enjoy this book. In addition to my lack of interest in the subject matter, I cannot enjoy the author's writing style. I feel he meanders and that there are so many unfinished thoughts and ideas. It drove me crazy!

By the end of the book I was frustrated and upset. I recommend this book to no one.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
42 reviews18 followers
January 19, 2008
Equally as fascinating as Gladwell's other book The Tipping Point. Really makes you think, consider your decisions differently.

But in the end it comes down to a matter of respect, and the simplest way that respect is communicated is through tone of voice.

Of the tens of millions of American men below five foot six, a grand total of ten in my sample have reached the level of CEO, which says that being short is probably as much of a handicap to corporate success as being a woman or an African American.

Most of us, in ways that we are not entirely aware of, automatically associate leadership ability with imposing physical stature.

...when corrected for such variables as age and gender and weight, an inch of height is worth $789 a year in salary. That means that a person who is six feet tall but otherwise identical to someone who is five foot five will make on average $5,525 more per year.

Prejudging is the kiss of death...because sometimes the most unlikely person is flush.

The truth is that improv isn't random and chaotic at all...it's an art form governed by a series of rules, and they want to make sure that when they're up on stage, everyone abides by those rules. One of the most important of the rules that make improv possible, for examples is the idea of agreement, the notion that a very simple way to create a story—or humor—is to have characters accept everything that happens to them. Good improvisors seem telepathic; everything looks pre-arranged. This is because they accept all offers made—which is something no normal person would do.

Neither Masten nor Rhea believes that clever packaging allows a company to put out a bad-tasting product. The taste of the product itself matters a great deal. Their point is simply that when we put something in our mouth and in that blink of an eye decide whether it tastes good or not, we are reacting not only to the evidence from our taste buds and salivary glands but also to the evidence of our eyes and memories and imaginations, and it is foolish of company to service one dimension and ignore the other.

Emotion can also start on the face. The face is not a secondary billboard for our internal feelings. It is an equal partner in the emotional process. Silvan Tomkins one began a lecture by bellowing, "The face is like a penis!" What he meant was that the face has, to a large extent, a mind of its own.

Imagine if there were a switch that all of us had, to turn off the expressions on our face at will. If babies had that switch, we wouldn't know what they were feeling. They'd be in trouble. You could make an argument, if you wanted to, that the system evolved so that parents would be able to take care of kids.

People with autism...have difficulty interpreting non-verbal cues, such as gestures and facial expressions...in anything less than a perfectly literal environment, the autistic person is lost.

In the interviews with police officers who have been involved with shootings, these same details appear again and again: extreme visual clarity, tunnel vision, diminished sound, and the sense that time is slowing down. This is how the human body reacts to extreme stress, and it makes sense. Our mind, faced with a life-threatening situation, drastically limits the range and amount of information that we have to deal with. Sound and memory and broader social understanding are sacrificed in favor of heightened awareness of the threat directly in front of us.

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1,690 reviews205 followers
September 23, 2020
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.
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