Malcolm Gladwell is very much an author of the moment. I’ve read his Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking. It’s an engaging defence of intuition as an equally valid, and in some ways superior, method of decision-making to traditional reasoning, at least for the trained mind. The main idea is Thin Slicing (seeing patterns in situations and behaviour based on very narrow “slices of experience”). Here’s a good BBC article on how these snap decicions are sometimes the best.
He’s a journalist rather than a psychologist, and it shows in this work anyway. Yes, it’s a pleasant enough read, but if you’re after some meat on this subject, I would suggest the works of Gary Klein among others (who Gladwell quotes in his book). But that’s just me…
Getting back to Gladwell, he’s come out with a new book on success. Again, he enjoys shifting our thinking around to unexpected patterns. This time the argument is that success can have much – even more – to do with circumstances and the era you’re born into than willpower or genius. Interesting.
But instead of reading me reading him, listen to the man himself in a few clips I’ve discovered. Take a look at the BBC’s Working Lunch show or The New Yorker where he talks about problem-solving. Best of all, watch a collection of quality thinkers such as Martin Seligman, Barry Schwartz and Gladwell, discussing what makes us happy. Enjoy!