BUSN110: Gladwell Malcolm: BLINK: The Power of Thinking WithoutThinking. “Book Review”
Gladwell’sbook is entirely on the power of first impressions. There are peoplewho believe that there is a possibility of falling in love at firstsight. Gladwell aims to explain to his readers that if firstimpression can make a person fall in love, then the first impressionis very powerful in judging the authenticity of our daily encounters.He opens his book by narrating a story of kouros, an ancient Greekstatue, which was intended to be sold to Getty Museum California at aworth of close to $10 million. After fourteen months ofinvestigations the statue was declared genuine and sold to themuseum. However, the first impression of an Art historian FedericaZeri, when he was invited to see the statue, declared it fake. Twoother artists declared the statue a counterfeit based on their firstimpressions. After further infestations, the artist first impressionsturned to be right after the statue was found to be a fake.
Accordingto Gladwell, the first few seconds of seeing something (blink) cansignificantly affect the conclusions we draw about someone orsomething. Gladwell argues that the brain has a potential to judgethings correctly without subjecting our brains to so much thinking,based on the power of the subconscious. From the book, it is clearthat human beings have a great capacity of analyzing huge amounts ofinformation and isolating the useful details t draw quick andaccurate conclusions. I totally agree with Gladwell’s arguments inthis book. Most are the time the first impressions we have aboutsomething or somebody turns out to be right. Up to date, there hasbeen no science or formula proposed for enhancing the brain’s firstimpression capability. Therefore, Gladwell is right in arguing thatif the first impressions have proved so far to be efficient, it meansthat through training, the brain capacity to draw correct conclusionscan greatly be enhanced.
Thebook narrates several stories, all illustrating the power of thefirst impression. Gladwell narrates the story of a psychologist, JohnGottman, who used his first I impression capacity in accuratelydetermining whether married couples would stick together for 15 yearsafter getting married. Gottman videotapes his clients while having aconversation. He watches the videos for one hour and is able to tellwhether the couple will stay together or will break up. According toGottman, each relationship has its unique features (DNA), and it ispossible to take a thin slice of the relationship, evaluate itsfundamental patterns and make an accurate conclusion about its fate.Gladwell argues that human beings always make use of thin slicingtechniques to judge a person or a situation. I totally agree withGladwell. Whenever a person goes out on a date for the first time, heor she look for one trait and using the identified trait, draw aconclusion of the total personality of their dates.
Gladwellexplains an experiment by Nalini Ambady to further elaborate theconcept of thinking without thinking. Nalini issued 10 secondsvideotapes of a teacher lecturing to her students and asked them torate the lecturer. The rating by the students matched the ratingsfrom students who had taken the teacher’s course the wholesemester. According to Gladwell, human beings are never sure aboutthe efficiency and potential of their rapid cognition. In manyinstances, people use long procedures and methodologies to confirm aconclusion that they already formed in their subconscious mindsthrough the power of their first impressions. According to Gladwell,contrary to what many people believe, decisions quickly after a firstencounter with someone of something are most of the time correct. Isupport his arguments that there is no need to waste time, resourceand finances in long procedures to draw conclusions Instead,companies and institutions should invest in training the brain’scapacity to enhance the power of first impression to help in accuratejudgments and conclusions.
Gladwellargued that the various stereotypes existent in the societysignificantly affect all the aspects of an individual’s life. Henarrates a story where African -American students were asked to statetheir race before doing a test and others were not asked about theirraces. The test results showed that the students, who were askedabout their race performed poorly compared to those who were notasked to state their race. According to Gladwell, the mare fact ofstating their race affected their “blink” thinking that they areAfrican –Americans, a race associated with low academicachievement. I agree with Gladwell that beliefs and stereotypesgreatly affect our brain’s capacity and personal traits.
Sincethe book is entirely on first impression, I will conclude by sayingthat my first impression of Gladwell’s book was enthralling, eyeopening and significant. I am impressed that I have a cognitivecapacity associated with first impression that can greatly help me indrawing accurate conclusion of my day-today encounters. However, thebrain has two sides, the thin-slicing and the thick-slicing. Thethick-slicing side always asks so many questions and wants more proofto understand even the simplest concepts. Therefore, despite the factthat I agree with Gladwell’s arguments, my thick-slicing side ofthe brains have several questions. Some of these questions are: Howis the brain able to blend huge amounts of information and draw anaccurate conclusion within a “blink”? Is there any likelihoodthat the power of first impression can be enhanced and if yes, how?
GladwellMalcolm. BLINKThe Power of Thinking Without Thinking.Little, Brown & Company, Boston, 2005.