Blink

Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Synopsis:

An enjoyable Gladwell read discussing the importance of thin slicing; finding patterns in very narrow slices of data (also seen in A.T. Kearney’s Leadership framework: 1. Anticipate – finding weak signals).  Later chapters on the impact of appearance on our decision making both in terms of our choice of leaders and products and on Ekman’s research into reading thoughts and emotions through facial changes are particularly interesting

Intro – The statue that didn’t look right

• Getty kouros – initial repulsion from experts that saw it
• Iowa card test: 4 decks (2 red = minefield and 2 blue = constant reward and modest penalties)
  – 50 cards: hunch on which to go for
  – 80 cards: figured out the reason why
  – 10 cards: palm sweat stress response to red = unconscious adjustments
• Fast & frugal (Gigerenzer) – take a look at statue and make instant calculations before conscious thought tooks place = brain which makes these fast & frugal calculations is adaptive consciousness i.e. jetliner pilot (conscious) vs. autopilot (unconscious)

Chapter 1 – The theory of thin slices
• Thin slicing is the power of finding patterns from v narrow slices of data 
• Gottman ‘love lab’, testing couples responses over 15 min conversation, 95% accurate judging whether a couple will still be together 15 years from now.  Gottman himself only needs 3mins
 – Relationship fists: distinctive signatures that arise naturally and automatically (gd or bad)
 – “Yes, buts” and failure to agree with statements wanting support are key factors
 – 4 key indicators of problems
     a. defensiveness
     b. stonewalling
     c. criticism
     d. contempt (last = key)
 – 5 dimensions to judge a person’s personality (Gosling) – room check can beat friends
     1. Extraversion
     2. Agreeableness
     3. Conscientious – dorm
     4. Emotional stability – dorm
     5. Openness to new experiences – dorm
     => Dorm benefit = not judging a book by its cover
– Many professions have a word to describe, “coup d’oeil” – power of the glance

Chapter 2 – The locked door: the secret life of snap decisions
• Priming experiments (John Bargh)
 – Scrambled sentence tests (aggression vs. consideration) 5mins to butt in vs 10 mins – use in sales?
 – Others: think of professor vs. hooligan => 55.6% vs 43.6% in trivial pursuit test
• Descrates’ Error (A. Damasio) – ventrimedial prefrontal cortex damange => lack of judgement: can’t decide between 2 dates, no sweat response, no hunch, no change
• Locked door: v. hard to explain what one doing when make snap decisions e.g. speed dating desires prior and choices post, professional athletes can’t explain

Chapter 3 – The Warren Harding Error
• Appearance correct, underlying not
• Implicit association test (IAT) make connections more quickly btwn ideas that are already related in our minds than pairs that are unfamiliar (male and capitalist vs. male and family)
 – white vs. black preference test www.implicit.harvard.edu
 – Golomb, top car salesman, trick was that he didn’t prejudge

Chapter 4 – Paul Van Riper’s big victory
1. Successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking
2. Frugality also matters – reduce to simple elements (like LCA analysis)
 – Too much choice can negatively affect: Jam choice experiment (Iygenar) sales 30% from those who stopped by six-choice booth vs. 3% of bigger booth
=> Effective leaders make decisions with the best possible knowledge, they don’t drown in the data – they make choices based on fundamentals being correct
Chapter 5 – Kenna’s dilemma

• Pepsi vs. coke – CLT (central location) vs home sip test/full can. Pepsi preferred on sip but coke over time
• Sensation transference (Louis Cheskin – see the Total Package: secret history and hidden meanings of boxes, bottles, cans and other persuasive containers
 – Transfer sensations about the packaging to the product (fine wine)
 – The product is the packaging and product itself combined
     + Margarine test: colour yellow, and don’t mention it is margarine, does as well as butter
     + 7-up: by making the packaging more yellow => belief increased citrus flavour
  =>Minor changes make brands: parsley sprig on canned food name = freshness, faces on packaging mustn’t be too cartoon like
• Testing revolutionary products very difficult: Aeron chair – seen as ugly initially as wierd and makes people nervous (ugly as proxy for different)
• Real experts can reliably account for their reactions, others cannot
 – Tasting of jam: correlations between students and experts high but fell from 0.55 to 0.11 when asked to explain reasoning
 – People adjust their preferences to be inline with plausible sounding reasoning

Chapter 6 – Seven seconds in the Bronx: the delicate art of mind reading

• Mind reading (see Telling Lies: clues to deceit in the Market place (Paul Ekman) and Facial Action Coding Systems (Ekman and Friesen)
 – Facial expression tells your subconscious state, also expression alone is sufficient to create marked changes in the automatic nervous system
– Extreme stress causes non-essential actinides and senses to be filtered out – ideal zone = 115-145bpm
     + Taking 1 cop squad cars rather than 2 decreases shootings by officers as people take more time and less rash
     + Paul Ekman mind reading training tape


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