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The person who can tell you if your relationship is ‘the one’!


A book recommendation from Cmt
Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink came up in a group discussion the other day.
In “Blink” Gladwell tells the story of the psychologist John Gottman. Since the 1980’s Gottman has observed thousands of couples, recording their conversations and trying to figure out if there are signals that predict if a relationship is going to last or not. His success rate is extraordinary. By watching just an hour’s worth of video he can predict with 95% accuracy whether that couple will still be together in 15 years! Show him just 15 minutes and his success rate is still at 90%.
Scientists in Gottman’s lab now claim that all they have to do is watch 15 minutes of newlywed conversation to predict if that marriage will work.
This ability to predict things from a small piece of evidence is what psychologists refer to as ‘thin-slicing’. It is something we all do all the time. We meet people for the first time and make an instant judgment about them. There is a game we sometimes play when training, which is to ask the group 3 simple questions:
  • What sort of car do I drive?
  • What is my house like?
  • Where do I like to go on holiday?
Everyone has an immediate opinion about all of these things, even though they have never meet us before… They thin-slice and fill in the gaps.
The psychologist Nalini Ambady took this a stage further. She showed students 10-second clips of teachers lecturing. Then she asked them to rate the teacher. The result? The student’s ratings of the 10-second clips matched the ratings of students who had taken the actual courses delivered by the teachers over a whole semester. She even cut the clips down to just two-seconds and showed it to a new group. The ratings still matched those of the students who had been with the teacher for a whole course!
In Blink, Gladwell argues that although we are rightly suspicious of rapid judgements, actually when you are practiced at it, quick decisions can be every bit as effective as those made cautiously and deliberately. As we are making this type of decision all the time the wise thing to do is to educate our gut and learn what is important to focus on and what is not. This is especially true when we meet people for the first time.
It’s a wonderful book, great fun and if you haven’t read it, have a look.
Here is a link from a well-known online book store (other websites are also available)
Just seen that Malcolm Gladwell has a new book out. I’ll keep you posted!
Best wishes,
From David and all the Cmt team
0207 4707262
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