Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
THE THEORY OF THIN SLICES
Have you ever had a feeling that a couple's
future is successful or doomed just by witnessing a brief
exchange between them? What do you think you're picking up
Many couples seek marriage counseling from a
therapist, a priest, rabbi etc. But do you think a couple
about to get married should go and see John Gottman, the
psychologist who can predict with a 95% accuracy whether a
couple will be together in 15 years just by watching an hour
of their interaction? If you were about to be married or
could go back to before you were, would you want to see
Gottman and find out his prediction?
The central argument of Blink is that
our unconscious is able to find patterns in situations and
behavior based on very narrow slices of experience. This is
called 'thin-slicing.' What kinds of phenomena, if any, do
not lend themselves to 'thin-slicing?'
Gottman decodes a couple's relationship and
predicts divorce by identifying their patterns of behavior.
Can we change our natural and unconscious patterns of
behavior? Would awareness of these patterns with our partner
be enough to avert an inevitable break-up?
Do you think you could hire someone by
'thin-slicing' the candidate during a brief interview? Or do
you think this would only work for certain kinds of jobs or
perhaps, only certain kinds of people?
The psychologist, Samuel Gosling, shows
how 'thin-slicing' can be used to judge people's personality
when he uses the dorm room observers. Visualize your bedroom
right now. What does it say about you?
If scrolling through someone's iPod or
scanning their bookshelf can tell us more about that individual,
what other kinds of 'thin-slicing' exercises could reveal
aspects of their personality?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Back Bay Books.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.
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