Blind dating plot summary
The Introduction sets the stage for Gladwell’s discussion, in Chapter One, “The Theory of Thin Slices,” of the concept of “thin-slicing,” or the unconscious mind’s ability to find patterns and meaning in the most fleeting “slices” of experience and impressions.
Chapter One’s examples of “thin-slicing” include one psychologist’s ability to predict, with 95% accuracy, whether a couple will still be together in fifteen year’s time, and another’s ability to judge someone’s personality with more accuracy than that person’s closest friends based on nothing more than the contents of his or her dorm room.
In blind auditions, judges listen with their ears rather than with their eyes, and musicians are selected based solely on how well they play their instruments, without their gender, race, or ethnicity affecting how judges perceive their abilities.
This is one way that people can eliminate the bias that affects their judgment, but it’s not always or even often an option to isolate out the things that should not affect a person’s snap judgments of others.
This chapter includes other examples of how difficult it is to know what is behind the “locked door” of our unconscious, citing tennis coach Vic Braden’s uncanny ability to tell when a player will serve poorly, even while he is unable to explain how he knows the serve will go bad, and speed dating participants’ tendency to be drawn to people who do not match their consciously articulated criteria for potential mates. This chapter also includes a discussion of the Implicit Association Test, a test developed at Harvard that measures participants’ unconscious associations with regard to race, gender, skin color, perceived religion, and other markers of difference.
In Chapter Three, “The Warren Harding Error,” Gladwell focuses on what he calls “the dark side” of thin-slicing—the way that our unconscious minds tend toward prejudices that influence our conscious decisions, such as voting for someone because he “looks presidential,” regardless of his ability (or lack thereof) to do the job—leading, as in the case of Warren Harding, to one of the worst presidents in U. This chapter raises the question of whether and to what extent we are culpable for prejudices of which we are seemingly not consciously aware, and it provides the example of Bob Golomb, a car salesman who has trained himself to eliminate the effects of bias in his sales techniques, and as a result is a far more successful salesman than his colleagues.
The series breaks singles’ boundaries by having them go beyond their comfort zones and kiss a total stranger, without introduction, to find out if one kiss can lead to everlasting love.
If either of the pair feels a spark while lip-locked, he or she can head to a two-minute speed date, which could lead to date in the real world where all bets are off.
Once Gladwell establishes our understanding of the central concept of “thin-slicing,” he explores in Chapter Two, “The Locked Door,” another relevant concept, that of “priming”—the process by which a person’s behavior is changed, without her or his awareness, through subtle environmental triggers—and expands on the interesting ways that we make snap judgments that are based on the subtlest of physical cues and may be at odds with our consciously articulated beliefs and desires.In Chapter Four, “Paul Van Riper’s Big Victory,” Gladwell highlights the special value we place, in Western culture, on complex, analytical decision-making and compares it with our devaluation of intuitive or rapid-fire decision-making. Van Riper is highlighted because he makes a convincing argument for decentralized, intuitive decision-making in times of urgency (such as on the battlefield).He focuses in particular on Paul Van Riper, the retired Marine Corps officer who led the underdog “Red Team” to victory in the Millennium Challenge 2002, a war game conducted by the U. This chapter raises the question of whether and how one can prepare for such times of under-pressure, down-to-the-wire decision-making, offering both comedy improvisational techniques and ER procedures as other examples of structured intuitive decision-making that have a similar kind of urgency.The execution of the Rosenbergs worries her, and she can embrace neither the rebellious attitude of her friend Doreen nor the perky conformism of her friend Betsy.Esther and the other girls suffer food poisoning after a fancy banquet.