Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking Analysis

Malcolm Gladwell


Dr. John Gottman

A psychologist at the University of Washington, Gottman has been working since the 1980s to develop a system called SPAFF (specific affect), which codes every imaginable emotion a married couple might express during a conversation. Gottman uses SPAFF and his Love Lab to study subconscious dialogues between couples. While a couple carries on a conversation in Gottman's lab, the psychologist and his students study the couples' facial expressions, tones, and reactions and rate the information on the SPAFF scale. Gottman has so finely tuned his ability to use pattern recognition when listening to or watching a couple that he often needs just five minutes to predict accurately the fate of the couple's marriage. Gottman first appears in Chapter 1, but Gladwell references him and his research throughout Blink.

Dr. John Bargh

Bargh is a professor at New York University who regularly stages experiments with college students in which he gives them a list of seemingly benign questions. Bargh peppers the questions with related words such as "disturb," "intrude," and "bold" to get the test takers to act in a specific manner after they have completed the test. Bargh's research on priming people to act in a certain way has led to discoveries of how subtle suggestions can affect how someone performs on a test or how well he or she will do in a competition. Gladwell refers to Dr. John Bargh's priming experiments in Chapter 2.

Bob Golomb

A New Jersey car salesman who sells twice as many cars as the average salesman, Golomb is in his fifties and "looks like a bank manager or stockbroker." Gladwell devotes much of Chapter 3 to describing Golomb's effective strategy of fighting the natural human tendency to base thin slicing solely on appearance. Golomb explains that by treating every customer the same he is able to put aside any initial prejudices toward an...

(The entire section is 700 words.)


(Literary Masterpieces, Volume 5)

Booklist 101, no. 1 (September 1, 2004): 2.

Maclean’s 118, no. 5 (January 31, 2005): 56.

The New Republic 232, no. 2 (January 24, 2005): 27-30.

New Statesman 134 (February 14, 2005): 51-52.

The New York Review of Books 52, no. 7 (April 28, 2005): 19-21.

The New York Times 154 (January 6, 2005): E1-E10.

Publishers Weekly 251, no. 44 (November 1, 2004): 52.

Time 165, no. 2 (January 10, 2005): 57.

U.S. News & World Report 138, no. 7 (February 28, 2005): 52-61.