Malcolm Gladwell is getting a lot of attention recently for bringing some psychological research to the masses. He, like any good author, picks and chooses the research he wants to illuminate with his stories, but he provides an engaging way to undestand the sometimes-dry and statistic-laden language of many research psychologists.
In Blink, his book about the powers of the unconscious, Malcolm Gladwell, author and self-described sports and psychology fanatic, argues that fairly accurate conclusions can often be drawn “in the first two seconds of looking.” To put this theory to the test, Gladwell had two seconds to say what came to mind about the following items. His first response: “I’m really bad with this kind of thing.”
Another interesting tidbit from the article:
Almost three decades earlier, Philip Zimbardo, Stanford University, had done an experiment in which he parked two cars in equally bad neighborhoods — one in the Bronx, and one in Palo Alto. Zimbardo removed the license plates on the Bronx car and left its hood ajar; it was stripped within a day. The car in California, left fully intact, sat untouched for a week. As an encore, Zimbardo smashed a window of the California car, which then was stripped within hours. “Zimbardo’s point was that disorder invites even more disorder — that a small deviation from the norm can set into motion a cascade of vandalism and criminality,” Gladwell wrote — hence, the importance of stopping petty crimes. Gladwell’s point was that a psychologist’s understanding of human behavior goes beyond the lab — into the fingertips, minds, and, in some cases, crowbars of real people.
The article is worth the entire read, from the March 2006 issue of the APS Observer.