In his landmark best seller The Tipping Point, 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.
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 understand every decision you make. Never again will you think about thinking the same way.
- 2005 Quill Award Nominee
"Entertaining and illuminating." (Publishers Weekly)
"Gladwell's groundbreaking explication of a key aspect of human nature is enlightening, provocative, and great fun to read." (Booklist)
What members say
Average Customer Ratings
- Chicago, IL, USA
Interesting read with contradictory messages
Going into this book, I was expecting concrete answers to the questions that this book proposes to the readers: 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?
Unfortunately, it does not answer these questions. The only real conclusion that the book comes to is that split-second decisions are in fact made by people, that these decisions are controlled by our subconscious (which can be highly influenced by external conditions), and that the decisions can have positive or negative results.
The first half of the book touts how powerful "thin-slicing" can be with several examples of various experts in various fields of work that are able to do this. The tone here seems to be to learn to listen to your subconscious.
Near the middle of the book is a few chapters on "mind reading", through facial expressions, which is interesting but again doesn't give you enough information to make any of it useful or practical.
The end of the book seems to say that thin-slicing is a bad thing, which causes us to make snap judgments based on race and gender biases. And that the only way you can tame this flawed decision making process is to become an expert in your field and to always realize that your subconscious is at work in your decision making process. Well, if you are an expert in your field, and you are always dissecting your decisions to look for your subconscious influences, then you are NOT making split-second decisions.
Overall it is a light read (listen) and is informative at a very high, psychology 101, level. It leaves many questions unanswered. Don't expect to take anything too practical or usable away from the material though.
359 of 385 people found this review helpful
- St Paul, MN, USA
Buy it now! Or not.. Trust your instincts.
I was first introduced to Malcolm Gladwell a few weeks ago on a podcast for the WNYC program Radiolab. The episode is called "Choice" and if you are new to Gladwell, i would suggest you start there. You'll be hooked.
The negative reviews i've read seem to have felt misled. As if Gladwell were expected to present some unifying theory of intuition. Yet, n a way, he actually does, just not scientifically. What he does present are thought provoking anecdotes about the under appreciated importance of our instinct.. The patches on the quilt missing the thread of your perception. There is lots left to be learned from the experience of others, and luckily there's authors such as Gladwell who will find them.
30 of 32 people found this review helpful
- River Falls, WI, USA
Be careful with logical leaps
I enjoyed the objective experimental analysis results. The leaps into public policy, biased political inferences, and obsessive defense of an obscure music artist whom "regular" people don't realize is actually a great artist turned me off. I'm obviously in the minority based on the current rating of this book. I expect liberal leaning people to generally love the book and conversely right leaning people to rate it lower. Back to what I like. Good social/psychological science backed up by experimentation. I especially liked the proposal that quantity of data does not correlate with better decision making and, in fact, can confuse the decision maker. Overall I recommend the read but I'd like to get a book like this and not be able to tell the political leanings of the author.
50 of 54 people found this review helpful
- Philadelphia, PA, USA
The first review on here is generally accurate in terms of book contents, the book doesn't necessarily have the contradictions it suggests. But it may not offer the solutions that everyone hopes will help them find the mysteries of the universe, either. The problem is that where science is concerned many think that there are always concrete answers, but that is simply the fartheset thing from the truth.
What this book does do is have a lengthy discussion about the things that influence our choices and informs our decisions. There is no firm answer because everyone makes decisions based on a different set of experiences, even if many of them are common.
While perhaps a bit long in a place or two, the author takes a great deal of time to fully present his thoughts which are often complex. I thought while much of the information here is known, it is presented in a way that helps readers understand his concepts.
28 of 30 people found this review helpful
- J Kaufman
- Los Angeles, CA United States
A great communicator
As usual Mr. Gladwell has impressive insights. This time he looks at the power of 'thin slicing' which is essentially making a snap judgment about something. The key to that blink reaction being accurate though has much to do with the observers expertise in an area (you need to have some) and the context in which they are making the determination (you need to have a neutral, unbiased way to make the judgment or it may be unavoidably affected).
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
Part of the MUST READ series on how we think
It is somewhat less technical than How We Decide but gives different examples of the conscious decision making process vs. the unconscious process. Allows the reader to gain an understanding that while you are heavily influenced by environmental stimuli and data we are consciously unaware of, we can train our conscious mind to identify those influences and adapt/compensate for them. There is a part that even goes into mind reading (no joke). This is a must read for humans.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
- San Francisco, CA, USA
I just finished Blink and I am back at Audible to purchase The Tipping Point. Although this book is rather light reading, I am familiar with enough of the science to know it is solid. He makes the work of some brilliant, cutting-edge scientists accessible to a range of readers. I found the book provocative and would recommended it for anyone who is in a position to make important snap decisions (firefighters, police, nurses, paramedics, etc.). Contemplating the situations described in this book has changed my perspective of the world and how I interact with it. For example, as a college professor, I paid special attention to the first few minutes of class while introducing myself to new students, planning how I projected my persona. I created the image I wanted the students to have.
My only criticism is that it seemed rather repetitive after a while and could have been much shorter. Yet, I could understand that he was recapping and clustering points he made in the text. I would imagine that this technique enables those for whom this information is new to fully digest it.
32 of 36 people found this review helpful
- Hartley WintneyUnited Kingdom
Good topic ... excruciatingly long discourse
As has been mentioned earlier, the fundamental premise of the book (i.e. first imperessions matter) is sound and interesting. However, what detracts from the value of the book is the endless analogies and digressions to prove this fundamental premise. The book could have easily been 1/4th the size and not missed the point. Nevertheless well written and well read by the author.
18 of 20 people found this review helpful
- Amazon Customer
Like his other two books, Malcom Gladwell's Blink draws together a lot of disparate social science and psychology research to form interesting conclusions. At the end of this book, I'm not sure precisely what I've learned or how all the information fits together, but I was fascinated throughout. One of the nice things about this audiobook is that the narrator is the author himself, so you feel very much as if you're sitting down with him listening to him talk about various aspects of human behavior.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
A Blinkin' Good Read
I tend to listen to fiction but made this purchase when I listened to a free excerpt that ended up on my device. I knew of both this book and "Tipping Point," and knew people who'd raved about the latter but...fiction-oriented as I am, hadn't made the effort in my bit of free reading time to try this author out.
The prologue reads as a mystery, so I was quickly hooked and loved this read! The author reads the book himself and does so beautifully, every chapter left me thinking, had me describing the author's thesis to ...several people -- this is the kind of book that quickly engages, makes you think, and stays with you after completed.
My only beef with the book is that it wraps up too quickly - the beginning and middle of the book are well developed but the ending almost reminds me of a freshman thesis where the author simply runs out of time to complete the work and tidies everything up a bit too summarily.
In this particular book, this remains a minor quibble, I would happily foist this book on everyone I know to read!
21 of 24 people found this review helpful