Nalini Ambady, Psychologist of Intuition, Is Dead at 54

The New York Times:

Nalini Ambady, a social psychologist whose research on the surprising accuracy of first impressions was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in “Blink,” his best-selling nonfiction book of 2005, died on Oct. 28 in Boston. She was 54.

Her death, from leukemia, was announced by Stanford University, where she had taught since 2011.

In “Blink,” subtitled “The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,” Mr. Gladwell explored the psychology of intuition, snap judgments and gut reactions. The book prominently features Professor Ambady’s work, which centered on the cognitive processes underpinning intuition. Her findings are notable for upending long-held prejudices about the validity of first impressions.

To make snap judgments, Professor Ambady found, people draw unconsciously on a series of nonverbal cues, including facial expression and body language — things a poker player might call “tells” — which determine their initial response to people and situations.

In an article published in 1992 in the journal Psychological Bulletin, she and the psychologist Robert Rosenthal coined the term “thin slices” to describe these nonverbal snapshots. Significantly, they found that information gleaned from thin slices resembles information garnered from long observation to a far greater degree than supposed.

Read the whole story: The New York Times

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