Malcolm Gladwells Blink the Power of Thinking Without Thinking Essay

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Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking suggests that there is great power in the intuitive leaps or insights the human mind is capable of generating, that the “smallest components of our everyday lives—the content and origin of those instantaneous impressions and conclusions that spontaneously arise whenever we meet a new person or confront a complex situation or have to make a decision under conditions of stress” are often what matters more than logic (Gladwell, 2005, p.16). Even something as simple as an ordinary conversation can yield insights about something as complex as a marriage. Gladwell uses examples from history to show how insight into small details can have significant gains, such as the fact that World War II British code-breakers, even when they did not understand the code itself, could often find valuable interpretive clues simply by the cadence of a German’s speech.

Insight and leaps of understanding are not something that only a few, privileged individuals are capable of. Gladwell also notes that even untrained observers are able to understand a great deal about complete strangers, simply by looking at the strangers’ most intimate possessions, as was the case in a research study of people asked to draw conclusions about students based upon objects in their dorm rooms. “The observers were looking at the students’ most personal belongings, and our personal belongings contain a wealth of very telling information” (Gladwell, 2005, p.37).

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Of course, there are many people who are unable to draw such profound conclusions so quickly. Gladwell uses disparate examples such as the election of Warren Harding (the dangers of “tall, dark, handsome men” who look presidential but who really are not) and Coke’s failure to generate a new product (“New Coke”) that satisfied consumers because of its inability to understand the mystique behind the so-called secret formula of its flagship product.

The difference between good decision-makers and bad ones is the fact that good decision-makers are able to fillet out the most relevant and salient information, such as their presumption that tall men are superior or that people solely purchase soft drinks based upon taste. For example, it was just as vitally important what the individuals going through students’ dorm room belongings did not have as what they did—a dorm room has a relatively focused array of clothing, books, photographs, and other items that are uniquely revelatory of the person’s character, without the distractions of social stereotypes. There is less of a likelihood of assuming that someone who is a football player is a dumb jock because of the presence….....

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Gladwell, M (2005). Blink: The power of thinking without thinking. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, & Company.

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