Blink, the 2007 book by Malcolm Gladwell (author of The Tipping Point and other interesting neuroscience and psychology books), easily translates research into compelling storytelling around the kinds of decisions those first few seconds of perception lead us to. He finds common themes when looking at how doctors diagnose heart attacks, how art experts judge authenticity, how people speed date, or how military leaders plan for battle. One of my favorite parts had to with the “Harding effect” — voting for a handsome but clueless president.
This book took me two months to read. I’m not a slow reader and it’s not the only thing I’ve been reading…but it’s the type of book that ends up sitting on the back of the toilet to be read in short chunks as time allows (TMI?). I have a long commute and listen to a lot of podcasts like Radiolab…where I know I have heard Gladwell pull disparate topics together in an interesting fashion. Reading this book, I couldn’t help but think that some chapters could easily make interesting and compelling radio. But as a book, I admit my attention wandered at times.
The concepts of thin slicing, mind blindness and other interesting threads that Malcolm pulls at in various fields of research are ones that I think have seeped into the public conscious, especially because of work by Gladwell and others. His range of topics is vast and I do think that anyone would glean some new insights into their own behavior after reading this book.