How would you rate your ability to size up other people?
Malcolm Gladwell suggests that many of us have an inflated opinion of our ability to do this and that research suggests that we are not as objective as we would like to believe, and are therefore prone to misinterpret comments, intonations, facial expressions, and gestures. Moreover, we don’t always realize that people whose backgrounds differ from ours may communicate in unfamiliar ways.
Studies show that most of us who encounter apparently benevolent individuals are predisposed to believe that they are not putting on an act. Conversely, when we meet a man or woman who behaves weirdly or inappropriately, we are likely to jump to negative conclusions about them, even when there is little hard evidence to support our assumptions.
In his latest book, Talking to Strangers, Gladwell asks: How did double-agents who telegraphed their guilt get away with their treasonous behavior for so long? Bernie Madoff conducted a fraudulent investment scheme for years, deceiving many individuals who thought that he was a genius at making money. Why didn’t everyone recognize that he was a ruthless swindler? Amanda Knox served prison time for a murder that she did not commit. Which of her personality traits, remarks, and deeds convinced Italian authorities that she killed her roommate? Neville Chamberlain and other political figures famously misconstrued Hitler’s bellicose intentions; experienced judges grant bail to defendants who, they realize too late, should have remained in jail; the sociopath.
These examples raise intriguing questions about why we sometimes reach erroneous conclusions when we assess the truthfulness of our fellow human beings and why we should be more cautious when we decide who our friends are as opposed to who is likely to stab us in the back. Often we are dead wrong.
Always engaging our minds and emotions in his works of non-fiction join us for this LIVE event when Malcolm discusses his latest book, Talking to Strangers.
Ticket with book is available for domestic shipping purchase only.
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