I wrote an earlier post about the books I plan to read this summer, and so far, I have finished The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews and although I found them both to be inspirational and enjoyable, it is the book I am reading now that I find to be the most intriguing – Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.

According to the book jacket, “Blink is a book about how we think about thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instant – in the blink of an eye – that actually aren’t as simple as they seem.”

So far I am about a half-way through the book, and I have found Chapter Two – The Locked Door: The Secret Life of Snap Decisions to be the most interesting. In this chapter Gladwell introduces the topic of priming (influencing the way a person acts by planting ideas in their unconscious brain).

One of the priming experiments mentioned in this chapter was conducted by psychologists Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson. In this experiment the psychologists had black college students take twenty questions from the GRE, the standardized test used for entry into graduate school. “When the students were asked to identify their race on a pretest questionnaire, that simple act was sufficient to prime them with all of the negative stereotypes associated with African Americans and academic achievement – and the number of items they got right was cut in half.”

Interesting study… I wonder if any similar studies have ever been conducted with K-12 standardized testing and student achievement. The results would be fascinating.

Chapter Three – The Warren Harding Error: Why We Fall for Tall, Dark, and Handsome Men is an equally interesting chapter. In this chapter Gladwell introduces the dark side of thin-slicing. He discusses studies psychologists have used to look at unconscious or implicit associations by employing the IAT (Implicit Association Test). If you would like to take a sample computerized IAT in order to get an idea of what the test is about, then head on over to Project Implicit hosted by Harvard. You may be surprised by some of your results.

As I said, I am only about half-way through the book, so I will share other interesting tidbits as I come across them. If you have the time, I would suggest picking up a copy of the book, so far it has been a thought-provoking read.

Explore posts in the same categories: Blink, Books, IAT, Implicit Association, Malcolm Gladwell, Project Implicit, Psychology, Reading, Thin-Slicing, Thinking

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