BLINK: The power of thinking without thinking

Malcolm Gladwell is a well-known journalist. His writing skills are extraordinary. Consequently, his book BLINK is well readable and describes the concepts Gladwell presents in a way that is easy to understand. I don’t think I would go too far by calling BLINK one of the grandmothers of modern popular scientific books that deal with psychological matters. The term blink refers to the blink of an eye, that is, to a very short moment that leaves no time for conscious consideration of alternatives before a decision takes place.

From time to time it may seem that Malcolm Gladwell forgets presenting the essence of the concepts he is introducing in quite an anecdotal way. He uses the term intuition sparsely although he often describes the idea of made intuitively made decisions. In essence, I believe this book is a plea for trusting our intuition more frequently as long as we know of our prejudices that impact our judgments. At the same time, this might be the major problem of the argument the book is trying to make because any good decision, made on the basis of quick and subconscious thinking, is based on prior knowledge.

On the other hand, as the chapter termed “Kenna’s Dilemma: The Right – and Wrong – Way to Ask People What They Want” illustrates, a highly talented musician can remain without commercial success even though legends of the music field deem him the next big thing. One possible conclusion could be that first impressions of experts in a certain field are contaminated with too much prior knowledge and therefore cannot be generalized. From my point of view, Malcolm Gladwell misses following the question why there can be a discrepancy between the first impressions and decisions on the basis of fast thinking between experts and novices or lay people.

Also the finale of the book which is announced as “Conclusion” and its title is “Listening With Your Eyes: The Lessons of Blink” does not provide the reader with concrete and realizable possibilities or even just useful hints, of how we could sharpen our perception of our social environment.

The notes at the very end of the book are just excellent. Here, readers come across some links to the internet presence of researchers and their projects, and highly valuable remarks to the studies referred to in each chapter of BLINK.

DISCLOSURE: The reviewer has written a similar review in German for the German page of In-Mind ( which was based on the German translation of BLINK.


Gladwell, M. (2007). Blink: The power of thinking without thinking. New York: Little, Brown, and Company.

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