1. Please summarize your view of the idea known as the “American Dream,” as you understand
it. Is your understanding of this concept significantly different from the way Gladwell seems to
2. Malcolm Gladwell is interested in what makes some people more successful than others.
Overall, how would you describe his thesis, or central premise? Do you agree or disagree with his
ideas? How is this view different from the way you have thought about and understood success
in the past?
3. What does Gladwell mean by the term "outlier"?
4. Why does Gladwell insist that IQ is not the determining factor in one's ability to achieve
success? What does he mean when he suggests that IQ reaches a point of diminishing returns after
5. Gladwell draws upon Robert Sternberg's idea of "practical intelligence." What is practical
intelligence, and how does it differ from IQ?
6. According to Gladwell, what is the reason that Asians excell at mathematics? Discuss the
cultural and educational differences that he points to as explanation.
7. In “The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes,” Gladwell discusses one extreme way in which
different “cultural languages” manifest themselves. In your opinion, what is a “cultural
language” you are a part of? How did this “cultural language” emerge and evolve? Does this
language work in your favor with regard to social structure?