Blinking Redux

I very much enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell’s books Blink and The Tipping Point. The Tipping Point is the better business book of the two (imho), but Blink is a more intellectually stimulating work.

Seth Levine wrote a great post yesterday that points to research about how artists experience (my word) photographs versus how psychologists experience them. Specifically, the researchers tracked eye movement to understand how the two groups focused their attention on the photos. I won’t reproduce the images here – click through the link to check it out and read about the research.

Seth points out that

Our background, training and experience significantly affect the perspective we bring to a situation – even in ways that we don’t consciously recognize.

Gladwell’s book Blink is, from his web site,

…about rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. Well, “Blink” is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good.

This research of “experiencing a photograph” is a compelling, empirical example of how we each rapidly bring subconscious data to our individual interpretations of the world unfolding around us. It’s a great example of how we – as a culture, a society, and as individuals – “train our brains to Blink”.

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