VISUAL INTELLIGENCE

SHARPEN YOUR PERCEPTION, CHANGE YOUR LIFE

Sharp and original, this book should alter how readers look at the world.

A comprehensive guide to seeing what others do not, distilled from art historian Herman’s acclaimed seminar The Art of Perception.

A few years ago, an image of a lung X-ray went viral due to the fact that 83 percent of radiologists who examined it failed to note something obvious: a 2-inch cartoon of a gorilla superimposed over the right lobe. Psychologists call this effect “inattentional blindness,” suggesting that when our brains focus exclusively on a certain task, such as evaluating a lung scan for cancerous tumors, other details can fade to the background even when they are literally right in front of you. The author takes it one step further. “The ability to see, to pay attention to what is often readily available right in front of us,” she writes, “is not only a means to avert disaster but also the precursor and prerequisite to great discovery.” Since developing her seminar at The Frick Collection in 2000, she has used famous works of art to coach FBI agents, physicians, CEOs, and police officers to enhance their abilities to observe their surroundings and effectively articulate what they see. In converting her lectures to this fascinating book, Herman convincingly argues that closely analyzing works of art is an empowering exercise that translates to seeing the 'hidden' clues in many real-life scenarios. Perhaps most compelling are the author’s descriptions of actual crime scenes that were only solved because someone noticed the right detail—a pair of inside-out pants, a whirling ceiling fan—when most people missed it. Yet despite her expert clientele, Herman amply demonstrates that tapping into an inner Sherlock Holmes isn’t only a skill for investigators and that heightened observation is critical to communicating effectively, empathizing with others, and making informed decisions. With practice, she argues, everyone has an innate “visual intelligence” waiting to be refined.

Sharp and original, this book should alter how readers look at the world.

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-38105-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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