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Have you read the book, Blink? In this book Malcolm Gladwell shows us how we have this innate power to come to quality revelations or conclusions in the blink of an eye. It’s called the “theory of thin slicing.” As if you could cut a pie with a thickness of one millimeter, and you could predict that the rest of the pie will be pretty much the same. For example at the University of Washington is the lab of John Gottman. He calls it the love lab. In his lab he measures the conversations of couples (including pulse rate, temperature, and anxiety levels). And then he rates their conversation in terms of how many seconds of their dialogue they were angry at each other, how many seconds they were defensive, how many seconds of contempt, etc. And if he can chart a couple for an hour, he can predict with a 95% accuracy whether they will still be married after 15 years. Amazing!

In fact a couple of things he has noticed in his studies is that the ratio of positive emotion to negative emotion in a marriage needs to be at least 5-to-1 in order for that marriage to be healthy. Also he said that clearly the most negative emotion is contempt. He has noticed that the worst thing couples ever do to one another is to show contempt -- a very damaging attitude. But get this: with this idea of thin slicing, he can now listen to a couple for just a few minutes or even seconds and predict with accuracy their chances for a successful marriage. Malcom Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking (New York: Little, Brown and Company), see especially chapters 1 & 2.

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