As a whole, the book argues for a heightened appreciation of judgments based on less information rather than more—on expert intuition or instinct rather than the less seasoned judgments of the novice.
The Introduction to the book, “The Statue That Didn’t Look Right,” tells the story of the Getty Museum’s purchase of a seemingly ancient statue that appears to be authentic based on its documentation, but that has many experts believing, nevertheless, that something is not quite right with it even though they are unable to articulate precisely what is wrong.
In my book, Blind Spots, I suggest tactics to help one make better decisions because they help sidestep the pitfalls that our blind spots keep us from seeing.
While some “blink” decisions can be on target when they’re based on our expertise, they don’t always serve us well, for two reasons.
This mystery of the statue—is it a fake or is it real?
—is not resolved, but it does illustrate the two central ideas of the book—that intuitive or “snap” judgments are valuable, and that experts are especially able to make accurate intuitive judgments.
These examples illustrate how experts can take small samples and make significant and accurate predictions and suggest the ways in which we all “thin-slice” experience and observations to make predictions and act accordingly.
Once Gladwell establishes our understanding of the central concept of “thin-slicing,” he explores in Chapter Two, “The Locked Door,” another relevant concept, that of “priming”—the process by which a person’s behavior is changed, without her or his awareness, through subtle environmental triggers—and expands on the interesting ways that we make snap judgments that are based on the subtlest of physical cues and may be at odds with our consciously articulated beliefs and desires.
In this book Gladwell describes a construct he terms the “adaptive unconscious,” that processes incoming information without our conscious awareness, producing judgments and behaviors within seconds.
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This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of , Malcolm Gladwell explores the psychological processes of intuition and instinct, examining how we make split-second decisions and judgments—both good and bad—and how the ability that makes us more likely, for example, to accurately read a dangerous situation or an ill-intentioned person is the same ability that makes us unconsciously racist, sexist, or otherwise prejudiced, even if we consciously espouse other views.
But Gladwell’s own examples show that people are most likely to be correct in their blink judgments when they are like the two art experts when their judgments rest on a mother lode of background experience or information.
So a blink judgment might serve you well at those times but the rest of the time, you need to slow down in order to avoid the blind spots that can trip up even the smartest people.