book report on blink by malcolm gladwell

In the #1 national bestseller Blink, Malcolm Gladwell analyzes the way we think. Specifically, he explains the workings of the unconscious mind in making snap judgments and decisions. He proves that more information is not always a good thing, and some of the best decisions come from gut instinct. In the first chapter, Malcolm introduces the idea of thin-slicing, our unconscious ability to determine what is important in a very short period of time. In more basic terms, thin-slicing is our gut instinct. The more you train your brain, the more accurate the thin-slicing will be. We frequently make decisions in the blink of an eye without even noticing. Gladwell talks about an interesting experiment by John Gottman, who is well known for his work on marital relationships. In the study, Gottman had couples discuss a minor issue in their marriage together for about fifteen minutes. He videotaped both members and reviewed their facial expressions, tone of voice, and overall attitude. Gottman created a different code for each type of expression or feeling, such as contempt, jealousy, or defensiveness. With ninety-five percent accuracy,

Gottman can predict which couples will still be married in fifteen years. Even non-experts could predict the divorce rate with eighty percent accuracy if they were given a list of behaviors for which to look. It is quite remarkable that we have this unknown talent and, with a little practice, can improve our judgment in certain situations. Our ability to thin-slice can be corrupted by prejudices and stereotypes, though. In a study done by Harvard University, researchers led participants through a series of Implicit Association Tests.

These tests are meant to prove that we make associations between things much more quickly if they are previously connected in our minds. The most common IAT involves the connection between males and career and females and family. Participants are given a word from one of the categories and must sort it in the correct place as quickly as possible. For example, if male and career are on the left and female and family on the right, they would sort the word marriage on the right. Participants could make this connection with ease. However, it took the participants about three-hundred milliseconds longer to sort the words when male and family were on the left and female and career on the right. Even though we do not consciously create these prejudices, our unconscious mind does. I went online and took the test myself, thinking that I would be educated enough to beat it.

Of course, I was unsuccessful, and the data revealed that I moderately associate males with career and females with family. The results are even more frightening in the IAT that shows the association between African-Americans and evil and Europeans and good. Interestingly, when making a split-second decision, we are more likely to be swayed one way or another by our prejudices and stereotypes, regardless of whether we support them or not. Thin-slicing is very effective in making medical decisions. Many doctors experience what is called “analysis paralysis,” information overload that causes them to misjudge a situation and misdiagnose patients. Gladwell claims that better judgments can be made with simpler information. Excess information can clog their thinking and is usually irrelevant to the diagnosis anyway. Rarely does more information actually make a doctor’s judgment more accurate. In certain situations, thin-slicing can have disastrous effects.

One of the most extreme cases of thin-slicing gone wrong is the shooting of Amadou Diallo by four police officers. Diallo, a young African-American man, was standing on the stoop of his apartment building when the police officers drove by. They were concerned about what he might be doing, so they called out to him. Diallo ran inside, probably out of fright, and two of the policemen chased him. He tried to grab the door knob while turning sideways, reaching into his pocket for something that the police officers could not see. They later claimed that they thought it was a gun. As he began to slide the object out of his pocket, one of the police officers shot at him. Over twenty-five shots were fired at Diallo. After he fell down, the officers went to grab his gun and were distraught when they realized he did not have one. Instead he was holding a black wallet; Diallo thought they were trying to rob him, which is pretty common in his rough neighborhood. The officers assumed that he was dangerous merely on the basis of his race, which can explain why many African Americans are wrongly accused of crimes. Law enforcement officers may not be intentionally trying to use stereotypes, but their unconscious mind uses them to make quick, life-or-death decisions. Gladwell brings up the effect of people’s appearance on our decision-making.

His prime example is Warren Harding, a tall, handsome man that was elected President of the United States. Harry Daugherty encouraged Harding, a former senator, to run for office. Harding was not too intelligent and definitely unsuited for the job. However, people perceived him to be a great authority figure because of his looks. The idea of appearance affecting judgment is also mentioned in Cialdini’s book under the liking theory of persuasion. People are more likely to buy something from a physically attractive person. Attractive candidates in the Canadian federal elections received two and a half times more votes than unattractive ones. Voters claimed that appearance had no influence on their votes.

This is true to a certain extent. Their conscious minds were not voting based on appearance, but their unconscious mind was leading them towards the more attractive candidate. Another interesting connection to Cialdini’s book is the relationship between height and power. Cialdini explains that you rarely see CEO’s that are short. People unconsciously perceive taller people to be better authority figures. Thus, they usually rise up the food chain faster. In the experiment with the Cambridge visitor at another university, they told each classroom a different occupation for the visitor. Then, they asked them to estimate his height.

The students who thought he was a professor estimated that he was two and a half inches taller than those who thought he was just a student. Gladwell brilliantly explains thin-slicing and our ability to make decisions or judgments without even thinking. He provides both advantages and disadvantages of thin-slicing. Thin-slicing is actually very useful in certain situations, such as medical diagnosis, speed dating, advertising, sales, music, and even marital relationships. It can be a problem when prejudices and stereotypes corrupt our ability to judge. Even though we might not support or believe these stereotypes, our unconscious has a mind of its own. Literally.

"Looking for a Similar Assignment? Order now and Get a Discount!
Calculate your paper price
Pages (550 words)
Approximate price: -

Why Work with Us

Top Quality and Well-Researched Papers

We always make sure that writers follow all your instructions precisely. You can choose your academic level: high school, college/university or professional, and we will assign a writer who has a respective degree.

Professional and Experienced Academic Writers

We have a team of professional writers with experience in academic and business writing. Many are native speakers and able to perform any task for which you need help.

Free Unlimited Revisions

If you think we missed something, send your order for a free revision. You have 10 days to submit the order for review after you have received the final document. You can do this yourself after logging into your personal account or by contacting our support.

Prompt Delivery and 100% Money-Back-Guarantee

All papers are always delivered on time. In case we need more time to master your paper, we may contact you regarding the deadline extension. In case you cannot provide us with more time, a 100% refund is guaranteed.

Original & Confidential

We use several writing tools checks to ensure that all documents you receive are free from plagiarism. Our editors carefully review all quotations in the text. We also promise maximum confidentiality in all of our services.

24/7 Customer Support

Our support agents are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week and committed to providing you with the best customer experience. Get in touch whenever you need any assistance.

Try it now!

Calculate the price of your order

Total price:

How it works?

Follow these simple steps to get your paper done

Place your order

Fill in the order form and provide all details of your assignment.

Proceed with the payment

Choose the payment system that suits you most.

Receive the final file

Once your paper is ready, we will email it to you.

Our Services

No need to work on your paper at night. Sleep tight, we will cover your back. We offer all kinds of writing services.


Essay Writing Service

No matter what kind of academic paper you need and how urgent you need it, you are welcome to choose your academic level and the type of your paper at an affordable price. We take care of all your paper needs and give a 24/7 customer care support system.


Admission Essays & Business Writing Help

An admission essay is an essay or other written statement by a candidate, often a potential student enrolling in a college, university, or graduate school. You can be rest assurred that through our service we will write the best admission essay for you.


Editing Support

Our academic writers and editors make the necessary changes to your paper so that it is polished. We also format your document by correctly quoting the sources and creating reference lists in the formats APA, Harvard, MLA, Chicago / Turabian.


Revision Support

If you think your paper could be improved, you can request a review. In this case, your paper will be checked by the writer or assigned to an editor. You can use this option as many times as you see fit. This is free because we want you to be completely satisfied with the service offered.

Get better grades effortlesslyIt’s cheaper than you might think

Effortlessly get the essays and grades you need. You can now get any essay, on any subject and at ANY deadline with just 10 minutes of your time (or less). Your professor will love you for it!