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Michael Gladwell's Blink - With A Free Essay Review
Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell, is a novel about snap judgments and thin slicing. When we thin slice, when we recognize patterns and make snap judgments, we do this process of editing unconsciously. What are snap judgments and thin slicing? Snap judgments are making decisions in the blink of an eye. Similarly, thin slicing is the ability to make decisions or observations in just a few seconds. Opposing thin slicing, thick slicing is making decisions after long periods of time. How is it possible to gather the necessary information for a sophisticated judgment in such a short time? Whether it is meeting someone for the first time, trying something new, voting for a new president, or even trying new foods, the process of thin slicing is always in effect. Malcolm Gladwell gives many examples of thin slicing and snap judgments in this novel. For example, an art sculpture, called a kouro, was brought to a museum. There were debates on whether the sculpture was authentic or fake. Some experts only looked at it for a very short amount of time, while other experts examined it for hours. Experts who examined the sculpture for a long period of time thought it was real. On the other hand, those who observed it for only a few seconds thought it was fake. Test results showed the statue was in fact a fake. The thin slicers were correct based on a gut feeling. This example shows how important thin slicing can be. Although making decisions in very short periods of time can be really good, many factors can and will affect the outcome of a decision.
The third chapter in the novel Blink, talks about biased opinions and motives made in a few seconds. The chapter starts off talking about Warren Harding. He is explained as a newspaper editor from Marian. At the time, he was about 35 years old. His suppleness, combined with the bigness of frame, and his large, wide-set rather glowing eyes, heavy black hair, and markedly bronze complexion gave him some of the handsomeness of an Indian, (page 73). His voice was very warming, and he sounded very kind. One man, named Daughtry, saw Harding for only a couple of seconds, and thought, Wouldnt he be a great president? The novel explains that Warren Harding was not specifically intelligent. His interests were playing poker, drinking, and chasing women. Eventually, Warrens political rank went higher and higher. He eventually even became president, just like Daughtry had predicted. He wasnt voted president because he was smart or because people liked his thoughts. He was made president because he looked like a president. Basically, Daughtry made a biased opinion in just a few seconds by saying that Warring looked like a president, even though he wasnt intelligent. Even though Warren probably wasnt the best fit for position, he became the president just because of peoples snap decisions about him looking like a president.
Psychologists in the past have looked at the roles of the unconscious and bias. People make connections in their head so fast that sometimes we dont think. For example, if you have a list of names, with two categories (Males and Females), it is easy to separate the names into categories quickly without even thinking. Now the two groups are males/working and females/family. That would be easy to separate words and names into categories too. However, it gets harder. The new categories can be males/family and females/working. Most people have a hard time putting a hard working job into the female section. Others have trouble putting a family related word in the male column. The reason this happens is because most people have a bias to gender. When people think of hard working jobs, they think of males. Many tests can be taken online, such as the IAT racist test. People may think that they arent racist, but when you take the test you find out that you really do have a bias.
Another example of bias can be viewed from a man named Bob Golomb. Bob Golomb is cars salesman director at a Nissan dealership in New Jersey. Bob is a very successful salesman. The only reason he is very successful is because he trained himself to not have bias. He makes thin slicing effortless. He is a quiet man who seems to be very charming. Take care of the customer, take care of the customer, take care of the customer. That is Bobs theory. Of course he makes a million snap judgments, but he doesnt show them. Most car salesmen base their customers on what they are wearing. In a test, eighteen white men, seven white women, eight black women and five black men were instructed to go to car dealerships dressed casually. The results were stunning. The white men received offers as low as only $725 over the dealers invoice. White women received offers of $935 over the dealers invoice, while black women received an offer of $1195 above invoice. Black men received an offer of $1551. So basically, the black men had to pay the most, while the white men got to pay the least. This just proves that car salesmen have bias while working. If they see a white women walking in rather than a white man, they will automatically charge them more because they think they are easier to convince.
By reading chapter 3 from Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, one can see that bias is seen everyday, whether it is known or not. People make snap decisions all the time, and most of those decisions are biased. Implicit biases are in control in our unconscious and rapid cognition part of the brain. Many people will try to disagree with this chapter, but their actions would oppose. Like stated above, there is a test that you can take online called the IAT. Someone may say they are not biased or racist. However, if they grew up with whites their whole life, they are going to be biased toward whites. What people say can be way different from how people act. Also, many people are biased when it comes to jobs. There is a question in the book that goes like this: A man and his son are in a serious car accident. The father is killed, and the son is rushed to the emergency room. Upon arrival, the attending doctor looks at the child and gasps, This child is my son Who is the doctor? Some people would get the answer to this question easily. However, there are people like myself who are stumped until we hear the answer. The answer to the question is that the doctor is the mother. Seems simple, but why do so many people get it wrong? People get this question wrong because most people assume that doctors are males. This is an example of bias. When someone explains a doctor to you, you pretty much think of a male figure. This shouldnt be the case. This just proves that most people do have bias, even if they say they dont. Many people do have biased opinions that they will not admit, or that they dont even know that they have. The Warren Harding incident is an example of thin slicing. Daughtry thin sliced Warren and said that he looked like a president. Looking at this example could make people wonder how often this happens. Warren was not intelligent; the only reason why he succeeded was because people thought he looked like a president. People liked that he was a tall, good looking white male. This could be the reason why we have never had any female president, or why we have only had one black president. In the novel Blink, it is also stated that most CEOs are tall men. This is another example of a bias. When someone thinks of a CEO they probably think of a thin, tall, man.
By reading chapter three from the novel Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, people can learn that most snap judgments and thin slicing can be incorrect. Many people have biased opinions. The bias of our snap judgments, take over our thought process. Of course the book describes that thin slicing is good, but sometimes the process can be altered by unconscious bias. Other chapters in this novel explain how thin slicing is such a good tool. Chapter 3 explains how thin slicing can be altered by how one person thinks, feels, or even how the person grew up. People are discriminate even when they might they say they are not. We grew up learning how to not be racist, and how to treat everyone equally. However, our unconscious bias still takes over. This chapter shows the flaws of thin slicing, which exists everywhere. Although thin slicing is portrayed as a great way to make decisions in the novel Blink, it is affected by unconscious bias and can often times be incorrect.
Although I've read several of Gladwell's New Yorker essays, I'm sorry to say that I've not read the book Blink, so you might bear than in mind reading this review.
1. Let's begin with your thesis. It looks like this is it: "Although making decisions in very short periods of time can be really good, many factors can and will affect the outcome of a decision." That thesis is too vague. The word "good" for instance is a general term of approbation, and should be replaced by something specific. Otherwise, it's not clear by what measure you judge the goodness of quick decisions. (You repeat this claim about quick decisions being good elsewhere in your essay; the same advice would apply there). The phrase "many factors" is also too vague for a thesis, and so too is the verb "affect." Your essay for the most part is about the impact that bias can have on decisions. You should probably make that clear here, and make it clear what the nature of the impact is. If you think, or think that Gladwell thinks, that bias decreases the efficacy of snap decisions, say something to that effect in your thesis, as you do, for example, in your conclusion.
2. A significant weakness in the essay is the way it uses quotations. Let's look at your first quotation, but what I say about it should be taken to apply to other quotations too: When we thin slice, when we recognize patterns and make snap judgments, we do this process of editing unconsciously.
a) Quotations, if they are short, should be incorporated into your own sentences. You can do this with simple signal phrases, placed before, in the middle of, or at the end of a quotation. Signal phrases use verbs such as "argues," "states," "contends," "acknowledges," and many others to incorporate quotations. If we include a simple signal phrase in your quotation, we get something like this:
When we thin slice," Gladwell writes, "when we recognize patterns and make snap judgments, we do this process of editing unconsciously.
Gladwell argues that "when we thin slice, when we recognize patterns and make snap judgments, we do this process of editing unconsciously.
b) Quotations should be contextualized. That entails providing enough information about the context in which the quoted passage occurs to ensure that it's meaning is clear. For example, when I read your quotation, I've no idea what "this process of editing" means. I can tell from the word "this" that the the phrase must refer to something Gladwell has already mentioned, but I can't know what it refers to unless you tell me.
Actually, that's not true. I can go read the book myself or if I don't have access to it, as is the case, I can try google your quote. Hold on, I'll be right back.
Well, that wasn't too hard (thanks to Google Books). The sentence before that which you cite, reads: "To be a successful decision maker, we have to edit." The sentences before that sentence describe a process that Gladwell refers to as editing. So having done my Google search and read all those extra sentences, I can now tell you what you mean when Gladwell talks, in the sentence you quote, about "this process of editing." The problem, I hope it is clear, is that things are supposed to go the other way around. You are supposed to tell me, the reader, what that phrase means. Anyway, once we've had a little explanatory context, your sentence with the incorporated quotation, will look something like this:
Having explained that in order to make a good decision, we have to edit out unnecessary information and focus only on the essentials, Gladwell arrues that "when we thin slice, when we recognize patterns and make snap judgments, we do this process of editing unconsciously."
Note that this is the absolute minimum I could do to provide an explanatory context. My explanation introduces new terms that are not entirely clear. What constitutes "unnecessary information" for instance? What are the essentials? Because this is an introductory paragraph, however, it's not crucial to explain everything right now, but if I really wanted to clarify what Gladwell means by "thin slicing" and "this process of editing" (and if I'm writing an essay on the subject, then I should really want to clarify that), then I would have a lot more work to do.
c) Document your sources properly. Presumably, you intend to cite the bibliographic information in a Works Cited or References page. You also need to include a page reference after every quotation.
d) Put the quotation in the right place. You quote a sentence that defines "thin slicing" and then ask "What are snap judgments and thin slicing?" It would make more sense to the ask the question first.
e) Use the quotation for the right reason and make sure your reader understands the reason for the quotation. If your intention is to define "thin slicing" with the help of the quotation, then that's a good enough reason for this quotation. So let's look at a more problematic case. The second quotation: How is it possible to gather the necessary information for a sophisticated judgment in such a short time? Again, there's no signal phrase, no contextualizing, and no page reference. Also, it's not clear why you want to present this question at this time, especially since you don't go on to answer the question. The quotation seems to serve no purpose. Your third quotation, to take a final example, is a physical description of Harding. Again, no signal phrase or contextualizing explanation, though you do include a page reference. And it's not clear why you include the description. I can deduce why you include it from the ensuing argument, but why put your reader to the trouble of trying to figure out the significance of information you ask your reader to read? So, if it's not entirely clear, explain the significance of the quotation.
I think that if you revise the thesis and the way you handle every quotation in your essay, then the essay as a whole will be 167.34% better. You can check the math at Wolframalpha.com if you suspect Im just making than number up and feel the suspicion worthy of testing. If you want to make it 167.35% better, then you need to clarify your argument about "bias," especially in the second paragraph. That paragraph, on Harding, purports to be about biased opinions and motives but doesn't really discuss the nature or cause of bias. To say that Harding was elected because he looked like a president may be related to the question of bias, but you should explain exactly what Gladwell says about this.
Finally, the book is not a novel.
P.S. Unless you desperately need to meet a minimum word-count requirement, and can think of absolutely nothing else to say, and want to advertise the fact of that desperation, delete the following from the sentence in which it occurs: By reading chapter three from the novel Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, people can learn that. The same kind of wordiness occurs elsewhere and should be subjected to the same ruthless excision!
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I have always heard the expression, “a first impression is the most important, so make it a good one”, but I never realized what that could actually mean until I read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink. Gladwell spoke on a topic called thin slicing which he defined as “the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experiences.” In other words, it is when we subconsciously make judgments and decisions about or towards people based on observations of them. Our brain essentially breaks down different aspects of a person, whether it is through appearance, actions, or speech, and forms an opinion about the person.
When I had decided to attend UMass Dartmouth, I had joined my class’ Facebook page and began making friends. I was sending out and receiving friend requests from people who seem cool and interesting. I was thin slicing their Facebook just like Samuel Gosling, who did a thin slicing study where people would look through a stranger’s room or dorm and make conclusions about the type of person they are. I made one friend in particular; her page didn’t tell me much. Unknowingly, I was using the “Big Five Inventory” on her page. She seemed to be a private person, she didn’t have many pictures, and her profile information was very basic. When writing posts and comments, her writing style was very proper and correct, no short hand or slang. I thought she would be a shy girl, who’s very into her studies, not that outgoing and social. However that was not the case when I met her. In fact she was very outgoing and easy to talk to; she had a balance of everything.
Facebook is a popular site, especially among teens; it’s our life. We are always checking Facebook and updating our status. I assumed that because she wasn’t very interactive on her Facebook page, that she wasn’t interactive in real life. Often, thin slicing leads us into stereotyping, but as Gladwell has illustrated through the studies done by John Gottman, Samuel Gosling, Harrison and Hooving and others, thin slicing takes practice. It’s natural for our brains to makes these assumptions, but we have to learn how to thin slicing without stereotyping.
Before reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink I knew that we judged other individuals around us based off of personal criticism. It has become an adapted instinct of our lives that we may not even be aware of, but we do it all the time. I used to think that we judged people because of the way our mind reacts in an instant second of meeting somebody new. However, after reading this book I learned that our reactions are not only quick based on instinct, but based on personal experience in something that has already existed in our lives.
One thing that caught my attention while reading Blink was the idea of snap judgments. Although judging without actually knowing who somebody is or what their personal story of life is happens to be wrong, there is no way to control it because the human mind works instantaneously. The way society reacts upon actions by others, determines how citizens within that society are going to interpret something or somebody based on what they already know from past experiences. These predictions that are being made from our own personal past experiences can possibly cause trouble or satisfaction in the long run.
An experience of my own where I was the one to snap judge another individual was in sixth grade. I was in the middle school, so was this girl. This petite, quiet, studious Asian girl. All I knew about her was that she was in my class as I was in hers, and that she lived down the street from me. “She is such a suck up!” I kept thinking to myself. I wanted to be my favorite teacher’s favorite student. However, this was difficult at the time because I was young, competitive, and selfish. Before I knew it, this girl was doing all of the errands for my favorite teacher. I was not happy about this. Two years fly by, I had never held a conversation with this young girl who had been the “teacher’s pet” back in sixth grade. However, when eighth grade rolled around, I was assigned to sit next to this petite, quiet, studious Asian girl in my history class. After about a week or so into school, I began to find myself conversing with her everyday, uncontrollably laughing with her about everything, and walking home from school with her being that she was my next door neighbor. I had judged this girl from her physical appearance because of what I had thought I knew about Asian people in society from the way society had generally treated them. I found out that this petite, quiet, studious Asian girl who was that snobby, stuck up, teacher’s pet was no where near the person that she truly is. She is not quiet, nor snobby, nor stuck up, but she is my best friend.
Malcolm Gladwell quotes Sigmund Freud by saying “when making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons” (Gladwell 268). Let’s just say that pro and con lists are my life line, any decisions that I have made I have made some kind of list whether it be written with pen and paper or just mentally. I use the lists for major and minor decisions. Sigmund Freud said that pro and con lists are good for the minor decisions and “in vital matters, however, such as the choice of a mate or a profession, the decision should come from the unconscious” (Gladwell 268). The biggest decision that I have had to make so far in my life was choosing where to attend for my undergrad degree. I applied to six prestigious school and was lucky enough to be accepted by all of them. However, this made my decision a bit more daunting. I narrowed my decision down to two schools and of course I put my trust into the pro and con list.
The two schools were very similar on paper. I had visited UMASS Dartmouth twice before and always felt comfortable. I had came down for one more visit before I made my final decision. That day for lunch we were sitting with another family whose student had already decided that she would be attending UMASS Dartmouth in the fall. The family turned to me and asked “Have you decided where you are going to college”, and out of now where I opened my mouth and said “yes…I will be attending UMASS Dartmouth”. My parents looked at me with eyes wide and said “really when were you planning on telling us?” I just knew, the decision came from inside me I opened my mouth and the answer was on the tip of my tongue. For someone who uses pro and con lists for everything, and had made one to decide where I should go to college, it ws unusual that the answer was not on the paper it was inside me. I had made, in Gerd Gigerenzer words quoted by Malcolm Gladwell, a “fast and frugal” decision (Gladwell 11).
Gladwell uses “fast and frugal” to explain why the gamblers and a few people reviewing the kouros knew that something was not right. I had “felt something” (Gladwell 11) and my decision was made, just like the gamblers and the people reviewing the kouros had felt something but could not explain why or what made them make that decision. Gladwell states that “we live in a world that assumes the quality of a decision is directly related to the time and effort that went into making it” (Gladwell 13), but I am proof that that is not necessarily true. I was mulling over information for a very long time and could not make a decision, being at UMD that day in April I made a “fast and frugal” decision, and it will hopefully turn out to be a good one.
Blink In Real Life
The term “priming,” referred to in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, refers to an experience that influences a future behavior. Gladwell gives the example of when prompted with words such as “worried,” “old,” “lonely,” “gray,” “bingo,” and “wrinkle,” the participant’s adaptive subconscious will become obsessed with the idea of being older, and will therefore influence the body to act older by walking slowly. Prior to reading Blink, I did not know such a phenomenon existed, but this book provided clarity on details of memories that I have, particularly when I was in the hospital.
About three years ago I was diagnosed with a disorder called Reflex Neurovascular Dystrophy. Reflex Neurovascular Dystrophy affects the nerves that control the blood vessels in my legs by prompting them to begin to close. The treatment for this is to retrain the nerves by providing massive amounts of stimulus. In February of this year I was admitted to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to begin the treatment, which consisted of nine to ten hours of physical and occupational therapy a day. The gym that we were in was separate from all other inpatient physical therapy patients and it was decorated in such a way that there were works on the walls like, “persist,” “persevere,” and “hold on,” among others. It was strange at the time because hospital décor is usually very bland, but after reading Blink it gave value to the words being there. When I wanted to give up something kept me going. My conscious mind was focused on the immensity of the pain I was feeling, but as it seems, my adaptive unconscious was not willing to let my body quit.
At a follow-up appointment at the hospital I contributed my own word to the collage. I chose the word “invictus,” after my favorite poem by William Ernest Henley, meaning “unconquerable.”
Stephanie! Let’s go! My mother screams as she leaves her favorite clothing store. “But why mummy?” I yell back at her running out. My mother was the most upset I had ever seen her at that time and she wasn’t listening to anything I was trying to say, her main objective was getting as far away from that store as possible. When I finally made it to the car my mom explained to me what was happening. She had been accused stealing. I thought that idea was insane. I remember first entering the store and roaming through the aisles, and constantly looking back and some employee would be there just staring at us but I didn’t know why. I would look around to see if it was happening to anybody else, but nope it was just me and my mom. I still had no clue what was going on. I started shopping with my friends and realized that it happened occasionally. When people see a group of black teenagers goofing around and roaming through a store, we all know what goes through the manager’s mind!
In this situation with my mother, the store employee saw two African Americans walking and unconsciously started following us, and anything they thought as suspicious made us guilty; as opposed to everyone else in the store. As I was reading through the summer reading book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, this concept truly caught my attention because I was able to relate to it. Implicit Association has to do with human’s unconscious part of the brain. It’s when we make connections much more quickly between pairs of ideas that are already related in our minds. It plays with our beliefs and behaviors. In general, society has brainwashed individuals to think a certain way about different races. Usually people associate African Americans with negative things, and whites with more positive things. There’s even a test that Gladwell mentions in his book to prove so, the IAT test. Now, certain people might be so sure they are not stereotypical but after taking this test it creeps them out how much their unconsciousness has power over them. That horrible experience with my mom definitely enabled me to understand the concept of Implicit Association better.
In Blink, Malcolm Gladwell uses many terms to describe the numerous fascinating, split-second processes that the human mind uses to make important decisions. One of these terms is “thin-slicing”, which Gladwell defines as “the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience.” Based on knowledge gained from previous experiences, the brain is able, in nearly an instant, to subconsciously “gather the necessary information for a sophisticated judgment” (23).
As I read through Blink and saw this term used so frequently to describe many diverse experiences, I constantly found myself connecting the term with personal experiences during my years of playing soccer for my town’s travel team. A common situation stood out to me: one in which I would see a player on the opposing team nearly surrounded by players from my own team. Based on past experiences, I knew that at our level of play, the pressure player would look behind them for support from others on their team and pass it to them to open up the playing field again. However, this train of thought did not occur to me every single time I was faced with this set of circumstances. Each time, as soon as I saw more than one of my team’s players approaching a single opponent with the ball, I knew right away to cut around and get in front of the opponent’s support so that I could intercept the ball after they inevitably panicked and passed it away. Just as Gladwell describes, my brain was tuned to unconsciously gather information from my previous experiences and find the patterns in these seconds-long interactions that would inspire me to act in a certain way without even having to consciously think it through.
I was able to better understand the point of “thin-slicing” through connections with my experiences as an athlete, and this personal level of understanding made it much easier for me to appreciate the lessons of Blink, which shows all of us how important and influential the world of our subconscious truly is.
Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2005. Print.
Listening With My Heart & Ears
“I began to listen with my eyes, and there is no way that your eyes don’t affect your judgment. The only true way to listen is with your ears and heart” (251). Malcolm Gladwell explains in his book Blink, that when listening with your eyes you’re holding a biased judgment on someone and this judgment is distracting you from seeing the truth. There was a time that I listened with my eyes. That I held a biased opinion against people who did not deserve it; the homeless.
Homeless people to me were like pimples to teenagers; I despised them. Seeing them raid the corners of streets like kids at a toy store or hearing them ask, “Can I have dollar?” just disgusted me. It made me cringe. I always thought they were dirty, needy, ignorant, and they asked to be homeless. They seemed like they were not trying to do anything to better themselves and seeing this infuriated me.
However, working as an intern at a shelter changed my opinions. Once I started listening with my ears, I learned their stories. Either if it was from them losing their homes, or if they were veterans and they had nowhere else to go; I heard their struggle. As I listened with my heart, I learned that no one deserves to be homeless. It is not something that we want to experience. Realizing this changed my impression towards homeless people. It made me realize that they are like us, but they are just having a harder time.
My experience at the shelter helped me understand Gladwell and his explanations. However, it also helped me control my bias judgment and critiques. As Gladwell said, “Once we know about how the mind works-and about the strengths and weaknesses of the human judgment-it is our responsibility to act” (276). Once we start feeling these biased judgments, it is our duty to control and change them. Like I did. I am so glad that I had worked at the shelter because I would not have learned the truth. And I will be still listening with my eyes, instead of my ears and heart.
You don’t think anything of it when you see a truck pass by you right? But what happens when you see that same truck five minutes later? Is it just a mere coincidence or is this truck following you? You see the truck a third time. This is when my adaptive unconscious kicked in and I had to act fast, I had to decided what was going on at the moment and what I was going to do about the situation.
Adaptive unconscious as described in Malcolm Gladwells’ Blink is “like a kind of giant computer that quickly and quietly processes a lot of the data we need in order to keep functioning as human beings.” “The adaptive unconscious does an excellent job of sizing up the world, warning people of danger, setting goal, and initiating action in a sophisticated and efficient manner (Gladwell 12). The power of knowing, in that first two seconds is not a gift given magically to a fortunate few, it is an ability that we can all cultivate for ourselves (Gladwell 14).
My adaptive unconscious helped me that night. I had to decide whether or not I was being lurked on or was this person just lost in an unknown part of town? How would I ever know? If I didn’t use my snap judgment at that specific time what would have happened to me? Within the first two seconds of seeing him the second and third time my mind was already putting together all this information and give me the options that I had at that time. Should I call the police? Should I wait to see if I see him a fourth time? In order for me to be safe my adaptive unconscious told me Liana, this isn’t right you have to get out of this situation as quickly as possible before your hurt or something happens. So I decided within the first two seconds of seeing the same truck the second time that I would quickly get out of the situation and call the police if I needed any further assistance.
Assume that I didn’t get out of the situation and I didn’t call the police, what would have happened. At that very moment my adaptive unconscious told me get out so I got out but what if the man was just lost and was too nervous to ask for directions. If I would have stopped to think of all these other possibilities I probably wouldn’t be writing this story to you. Adaptive unconscious is extremely helpful especially in cases like mine where you have to think quickly or your life may be in danger.
My experience helps you better understand as a reader the word adaptive unconscious because it shows you first hand the quick response my adaptive unconscious gave me that night and that I made my decision on what I was going to do based on the information the “giant computer” in my brain pieced together to give me a quick and logical response.
Blink Essay Response
Do you think a complete stranger could know you better than your best friend since pre-school? Would you trust a judgment that only took five minutes over one that took five years to make? How many of you are reading these first few lines and have already made a conclusion whether this paper will be good or bad? What you’re doing to my paper is thin-slicing it. Whether it is a good thing or bad thing, thin-slicing is a very interesting concept, and is found all throughout Blink. But what exactly does “thin-slicing” even mean?
Thin-slicing, as Gladwell puts it, is “the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience” (Gladwell 23). It is a critical part of rapid cognition that goes on in the brain on a daily bases. When we thin-slice, we don’t even realize it because this decision making process goes on in the unconscious part of our brain. Remember when Gladwell talked about the experiment Gosling did with the college students and the dorm rooms? That’s a perfect example of thin-slicing. “They came at the question sideways, using the indirect evidence of the students’ dorm rooms, and their decision-making process was simplified: they weren’t distracted at all by the kind of confusion, irrelevant information that comes from a face-to-face encounter” (Gladwell 39).
Thin-slicing happens constantly. A few years back I was the quarterback of my high school football team. It was the middle of the season, and we were playing one of our rivals. The coach called me over, and told me we were going to do a pass play. When the ball was snapped, I looked over to my right at my primary receiver. He was covered. I then looked at my other receiver as he was coming across the field, made eye contact, and then threw the ball to him. Sure enough that catch gave us another six points. Why I threw the ball, I do not know. Maybe it was because he ran his route correctly. Maybe it was because looked open. Or maybe it even was because I talked to him earlier. The truth is I will never really know. My subconscious mind was thin-slicing the situation, disregarding all the unnecessary information that could confuse me in a matter of seconds. This happens all the time in sports and in life. Whether we have a choice or not, we put our complete trust in what our mind thin-slices.
Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2005. Print.