Masters in the Center

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

I’m reading a really interesting book called “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell. It focuses on validating and understanding the split second, gut-level reactions that we have. It reads like a persuasive essay, recounting a series of psychological studies and real-world events which reinforce the idea that people are able to make accurate decisions in a split second. Gladwell goes further to say that there split second conclusions can be as accurate or better than decisions made with through a long drawn out decision making process. He uses case after case to validate the feelings that we can’t explain or describe. For example, maybe you meet someone new at work. You get a quick introduction, shake their hand, and exchange a couple seconds of conversation before something interrupts your casual meeting. You may walk away from that meeting thinking to yourself “I really liked that person, but I can’t say why.” Or maybe it’s the opposite and there was something about them that gave you a sour impression, but you can’t put your finger on what. If you try, you’re not able to think of exactly what the reason could be that you feel the repulsion. The premise of this book is that even though conventional wisdom says that a conclusion you can’t justify is unreliable, many times these unjustifiable conclusions are the best decisions we make. The author would say that by understanding the psychological processes that lead us to these decisions we can and should confidently “jump to conclusions.”

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