Thursday, March 1, 2012

Daniel Ariely interviews Malcolm Gladwell about ways to reorganize thinking

A snippet from a Daniel Ariely interview of Malcolm Gladwell on

Ariely: In the process of trying to write things that influence peoples’ minds, what have you learned about people? What have you learned about the psychology of people?

Gladwell: I’ve learned that if you tell your story properly, people are very, very open-minded — far more open-minded than I would’ve thought. Or to put it in a more sophisticated way: People are information-rich and theory-poor. If you can give them a way of organizing their experience, then their minds are wide open. Which I would not have not have necessarily thought. And if you can frame questions appropriately you can overcome all kinds of ideological — what you would have thought of — as ideological constraints. So I’ve been continuously surprised. I always thought my book, because I am a political liberal, that my books would have heavily liberal audiences. But in fact they don’t….

Ariely: But they are also not very liberal books. Do you read them as being liberal?

Gladwell: I read them as liberal. But this is another case of: How I read my books is irrelevant to how they are read.

Ariely: But it’s interesting that you think it’s the theory, not the data. That I think is fascinating. That it’s about the organizing principles.

Gladwell: It’s about the principles. The books always give people these kind of broader theories, because that’s what they go to first. Then they’ll fill in the gap with the data. But they want some way of reorganizing their view of things. That’s what potent.

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