WORD LISTS

"Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell, Introduction–Chapter 1

December 21, 2018
Journalist Malcolm Gladwell explores how people process information in order to make snap decisions.

Here are links to our lists for the book: Introduction–Chapter 1, Chapters 2–3, Chapter 4, Chapters 5–6, Conclusion–Afterword

Here are links to our lists for other works by Malcolm Gladwell: Outliers, The Tipping Point
quarry
The statue was made of dolomite marble from the ancient Cape Vathy quarry on the island of Thasos, Margolis concluded, and the surface of the statue was covered in a thin layer of calcite—which was significant, Margolis told the Getty, because dolomite can turn into calcite only over the course of hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
amiss
In that very first moment, when Houghton swished off the cloth, all Harrison had was a hunch, an instinctive sense that something was amiss.
pastiche
But that, too, fell into doubt: the closer experts in Greek sculpture looked at it, the more they began to see it as a puzzling pastiche of several different styles from several different places and time periods.
frugal
They considered only what could be gathered in a glance. Their thinking was what the cognitive psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer likes to call “fast and frugal.”
adaptive
The part of our brain that leaps to conclusions like this is called the adaptive unconscious, and the study of this kind of decision making is one of the most important new fields in psychology.
relegate
The mind operates most efficiently by relegating a good deal of high-level, sophisticated thinking to the unconscious, just as a modern jetliner is able to fly on automatic pilot with little or no input from the human, ‘conscious’ pilot.
innate
I think we are innately suspicious of this kind of rapid cognition. We live in a world that assumes that the quality of a decision is directly related to the time and effort that went into making it.
deliberation
We believe that we are always better off gathering as much information as possible and spending as much time as possible in deliberation.
slipshod
Ortiz went to see the piece and was taken aback; it was, to his mind, clearly a fake, full of contradictory and slipshod elements.
formidable
Ortiz’s explanation is that Langlotz had bought the sculpture as a very young man, before he acquired much of his formidable expertise.
fallible
Our unconscious is a powerful force. But it’s fallible.
awry
When our powers of rapid cognition go awry, they go awry for a very specific and consistent set of reasons, and those reasons can be identified and understood.
fleeting
When it comes to the task of understanding ourselves and our world, I think we pay too much attention to those grand themes and too little to the particulars of those fleeting moments.
droll
Later, some of the people who worked in the lab would say they were the kind of couple that is easy to like—intelligent and attractive and funny in a droll, ironic kind of way—and that much is immediately obvious from the videotape Gottman made of their visit.
contention
For fifteen minutes, they were left alone with the cameras rolling, with instructions to discuss any topic from their marriage that had become a point of contention.
buffet
Marriages are buffeted by more important things, like money and sex and children and jobs and in-laws, in constantly changing combinations.
dub
Each couple has been videotaped, and the results have been analyzed according to something Gottman dubbed SPAFF (for specific affect), a coding system that has twenty separate categories corresponding to every conceivable emotion that a married couple might express during a conversation.
nuance
Gottman has taught his staff how to read every emotional nuance in people’s facial expressions and how to interpret seemingly ambiguous bits of dialogue.
treatise
When I met Gottman, he had just published his most ambitious book, a dense five-hundred-page treatise called The Mathematics of Divorce, and he attempted to give me a sense of his argument, scribbling equations and impromptu graphs on a paper napkin until my head began to swim.
cognition
But Gottman, it turns out, can teach us a great deal about a critical part of rapid cognition known as thin-slicing.
patronizing
Sue replied by closing her eyes and then assuming a patronizing lecturing voice.
overt
At no time as the conversation continued did either of them show any overt signs of hostility.
cadence
The Germans were, of course, broadcasting in code, so—at least in the early part of the war—the British couldn’t understand what was being said. But that didn’t necessarily matter, because before long, just by listening to the cadence of the transmission, the interceptors began to pick up on the individual fists of the German operators, and by doing so, they knew something nearly as important, which was who was doing the sending.
illicit
“And invariably, quite apart from the text, there would be the preambles, and the illicit exchanges. How are you today? How’s the girlfriend? What’s the weather like in Munich? So you fill out a little card, on which you write down all that kind of information, and pretty soon you have a kind of relationship with that person.”
buffer
“The first is what I call positive sentiment override, where positive emotion overrides irritability. It’s like a buffer...."
clinical
But that same tape has been given to almost two hundred marital therapists, marital researchers, pastoral counselors, and graduate students in clinical psychology, as well as newlyweds, people who were recently divorced, and people who have been happily married for a long time—in other words, almost two hundred people who know a good deal more about marriage than I do—and none of them was any better than I was.
condemnation
“You would think that criticism would be the worst,” Gottman says, "because criticism is a global condemnation of a person’s character. Yet contempt is qualitatively different from criticism..."
qualitative
“You would think that criticism would be the worst,” Gottman says, "because criticism is a global condemnation of a person’s character. Yet contempt is qualitatively different from criticism..."
contempt
But if I speak from a superior plane, that’s far more damaging, and contempt is any statement made from a higher level.
stonewall
The big gender difference with negative emotions is that women are more critical, and men are more likely to stonewall.
retiring
Extraversion. Are you sociable or retiring? Fun-loving or reserved?
inadvertent
Then there is behavioral residue, which is defined as the inadvertent clues we leave behind: dirty laundry on the floor, for instance, or an alphabetized CD collection.
discerning
Most of us have difficulty believing that a 275-pound football lineman could have a lively and discerning intellect.
elicit
We give them a questionnaire, like the Big Five Inventory, carefully designed to elicit telling responses.
mire
They may be so deeply mired—or so happily ensconced—in their relationship that they have no perspective on how it works.
ensconce
They may be so deeply mired—or so happily ensconced—in their relationship that they have no perspective on how it works.
metastasize
Burkin once had a client who had a breast tumor that wasn’t spotted until it had metastasized, and she wanted to sue her internist for the delayed diagnosis.
adamant
In fact, it was her radiologist who was potentially at fault. But the client was adamant. She wanted to sue the internist.
intonation
What’s left after content-filtering is a kind of garble that preserves intonation, pitch, and rhythm but erases content.
intuitive
All of this wasn’t thought out in words at the time. It was an intuitive conclusion that only later I could deconstruct.

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