To Blink Or Not To Blink

Have you ever been told to trust your gut? Have you ever been told to take a deep breath and think things through?

New students at Menlo College will be sent Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell for their Freshman Year Experience summer reading. In Blink, the author explores the power of the trained mind to make split second decisions, providing fascinating discussion and learning opportunities for students as they transition to life on campus.

“With its engaging anecdotes and overriding theme of decision making, Blink provides versatility for use across the curriculum,” said Linda Smith, Associate Dean of Library Services. Its themes will be used in the Fall 2009 Orientation Retreat, English courses, management courses, the Freshman Year Experience Seminars, and elsewhere across the curriculum. Bowman Library will be working on mounting an accompanying exhibit to reinforce interdisciplinary uses of the book. “In addition, we all [FYE Task Force] felt that the easily accessible writing style will grab students' attention,” explained Smith.

Dr. Mark Hager, Assistant Professor of Psychology, described how the sections of the book on stereotyping will be used in the Freshmen Year Experience (FYE) Seminars. “Blink's theme of quick decision-making—thin slicing as Gladwell calls it—challenges us to examine how we make snap judgments about situations and about people. �There are many situations where our gut reaction is the best response and others where it blinds us to better decisions and opportunities. �For the FYE Seminar during the Orientation weekend at Walker Creek Ranch, we'll focus on stereotyping in musical auditions. The stereotyping example will be a launch point for decisions students make in their first weeks and year of college, such as how they decide with whom to work, study, or socialize, and how they set priorities.”

Sections of the book on marketing will also appear in the Management 002 class.

“Packaging can subconsciously affect our perception of society as well as products. Blink examines how marketers can manipulate packaging to change our perception of many aspects of life,” explained Dale Hockstra, Dean of Academic Affairs.

Blink contains a fascinating collection of anecdotes about how our unconscious contributes to our decision making,” said Jim Kelly, Executive Vice President and Provost at Menlo College. “Sometimes we can make excellent decisions in the “blink of an eye” while in other situations we are led astray.”

Last year, the Menlo College's Freshman Year Experience Task Force sent new students Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, using the bestseller to provide inspiration, spur intellectual debate, and demonstrate how new media can create a self-help phenomenon.