Listen to your gut

March 30, 2005

I just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell's recent book Blink. It was some good, light, interesting spring break reading for the plane back and forth from SF (more on that trip in a later post). Blink is all about the power of the subconscious and how if we could channel it we could make better decisions. Often, Gladwell demonstrates, we are given too much information that clouds our vision and leads to poor decision making (much like my poor decision, after way to much thinking, to put Oklahoma State in the final four instead of Illinois). Other times we don't pay attention to what our subconscious is telling us, or we don't understand how to channel the powers of observation that we have. One interesting study at Harvard is looking at the subconscious biases that we have. You can take some of the tests online and I guarantee you will be blown away. It turns out I really don't like old people, and C for all her liberal arts upbringing still really associates careers with males. It is very insightful. Gladwell admits that even though he is half black, his tests showed that he had a moderate preference for white people over black people. What can be done? Well, he points out that the more positive images black people see of themselves, the more likely they are to prefer their own race. He gives an example of a black man who took the test day after day and still came out with preferences for white people, but on the one day that he took it after watching the Olympic track and field events, he finally got a score that showed a preference for blacks. Pretty interesting stuff. Go ahead and take some tests and let us know how they turned out: www.implicit.harvard.edu

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