Blink

Research and examples

The book begins with the story of the Getty kouros, which was a statue brought to the J. Paul Getty Museum in California. It was thought by many experts to be legitimate, but when others first looked at it, their initial responses were skeptical. For example, George Despinis, head of the Acropolis Museum in Athens, said "Anyone who has ever seen a sculpture coming out of the ground could tell that that thing has never been in the ground". Gradually, the argument for the legitimacy of the kouros' provenance fell apart. The letters tracing its history turned out to be fakes, referencing postal codes and bank accounts that did not exist until after the letters were supposedly written. However, experts to this day are unsure whether the kouros is authentic or not. The museum notes that "anomalies of the Getty kouros may be due more to our limited knowledge of Greek sculpture in this period rather than to mistakes on the part of a forger."[3]

John Gottman is a researcher on marital relationships. His work is explored in Blink. After analyzing a normal conversation between a husband and wife for an hour, Gottman can predict whether that couple will be married in 15 years with 90% accuracy. If he analyzes them for 15 minutes, his accuracy is around 90%. But if he analyses them for only three minutes, he can still predict with high accuracy who will get divorced and who will make it. This is one example of when "thin slicing" works.[4]

The studies of Paul Ekman, a psychologist who created the Facial Action Coding System (FACS), indicates that a lot of “thin slicing” can be done within seconds by unconsciously analyzing a person’s fleeting look called a microexpression. Ekman claims that the face is a rich source of what is going on inside our mind and although many facial expressions can be made voluntarily, our faces are also dictated by an involuntary system that automatically expresses our emotions.[5]


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