So my birthday just passed this weekend, and to treat myself I bought some books! Haha, pretty lame, I know. Well, I wanted to get this book called Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell, because my AP government teacher recommended it to me so very long ago. And of course I didn’t bother to read it till now.
Needless to say, this book is really interesting. Thinking without thinking. Malcolm Gladwell explores unconscious thinking, how snap judgments play a crucial role in our decision making. He doesn’t really bother with HOW we think unconsciously, instead treating our unconscious as a black box and focusing on WHAT we are thinking about unconsciously and how those thoughts affect our lives. For example, one phenomenon that affects our ability to make objective judgments is priming. If you are fed certain words, such as “gun” or “emotional,” in association with a particular image, such as “black man” or “woman,” you will unconsciously associate those words with the image even if you don’t do so consciously. These unconscious associations then shape your first impressions and expectations of people.
Gladwell provides an anecdote to illustrate how serious priming can be. In the classical music world, men were always considered to be naturally better than women. Women just didn’t possess the “strength” and virtuosity required to be professional musicians. In fact, up until a few decades ago, very few women played in orchestras. That was, until screens were put up to prevent the judges from seeing those who were auditioning. This way auditions could not be judged on the basis of someone’s gender, color, personality, etc. Now the ratio of women to men in orchestras is almost 50:50. Are men really better than women at playing musical instruments? No, but priming someone to associate “woman” with concepts such as “inferior” or “weak” can lead anyone to believe so.
If you thought this was interesting, then I encourage you to read this book.