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Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.

Gladwell relates both anecdotal information and research experiments concerning the way our brains make snap judgments. I really enjoyed reading about some of the things that are involved in our intuitive decisions...those decisions that we can't really explain.

It was also interesting to have a great many examples of ways that our decisions are influenced. Many of these influences are not obvious to us on the surface, but our minds are busy processing the information-- and not always correctly.

One interesting area was "mind reading," which is really the ability to read the facial expressions of others. Some people do this exceptionally well, other people have much less skill. One of the characteristics of autism is the inability to read expressions, and there is an experiment with an autistic man that shows how confusing and frustrating the lack of the ability would be.

While the ability to make snap decisions is frequently important--and too much information is often detrimental-- there are plenty of situations that require more time. Gladwell discusses this side of the coin as well and warns that we can be "primed" to make a decision by any number of factors of which we are not consciously aware. In other words, our decisions can be manipulated by any number of factors.

The book was entertaining and made me think a little more about the process of making decisions. It isn't very long and doesn't go into a lot of depth about how to improve your decision making process. Practice and experience seem to be key.

I want to read Gladwell's Outliers next.

Nonfiction. Popular psychology. 2005. 254 pages


  1. booklogged - It is a quick read and very enjoyable!

  2. I think I might listen to these books. Think they might lend themselves well to that. Glad to hear your review and look forward to hearing what you think about the new one.

  3. Thank you for your great review, Jenclair. Blink sounds like an interesting book. I love stuff like this but so rarely read books like this.

  4. I've had this book on my shelf for years and don't know what's kept me from reading it - it sounds very interesting.

  5. I have been meaning to read books by this author for a really long time, but never seem to get around to it. Have to remedy that one of these days!

  6. Kay - The book would make good listening. I've certainly enjoyed both of the books by Gladwell I've read.

    LF - This kind of sociology/psychology appeals to me and is written for the lay reader--interesting and accessible!

    Iliana - The book reads quickly and holds your attention. Hope you'll read it!

    Kailana - I think you'd enjoy Blink. I do like to sandwich my nonfiction with a little fantasy, though, and we are both fantasy fans...

  7. Both Blink and The Tipping Point were good, entertaining listening. I should try Outliers one of these days...

  8. JoAnn - Outliers was checked out and had a hold on it at the library so I'll have to wait a while for that one, but I'm looking forward to it.

  9. My husband just bought Outliers and we have both read The Tipping Point, but I think of the three that Blink would have been the most interesting to us. It's on my paperbackswap list, but it's gonna be a while before it gets to me.

  10. Lisa - The new television show Lie to Me seems to be based on the research Gladwell discusses in Blink about facial expressions. Very interesting!

  11. Jim is just finishing up Outliers and so I'm looking forward to my turn with it.

    As far as books on tape go I have heard from more than one person that Gladwell's voice doesn't do his material justice. One person referred to it as a Monotone Jungle.

    wish I got it together to blog about what I read as it seems like a good way to meet some interesting bloggers. But at this stage I am just thrilled to be reading and retaining ...