Malcolm Gladwell on preferences

Check out Malcolm Gladwell’s recent Pop!Tech presentation (audio, available in a couple of different formats) Malcolm Gladwell | Human Nature
His new book, Blink, comes out in January, and his already-high profile is about to take another leap (I’ve heard that his speaking fees have similarly bumped, so this may be your best way to hear him). In this presentation he speaks about how people make decisions, how the experience of asking them about preference can strongly influence their responses.

He gives a few familiar examples (the Aeron chair was ugly when it was first viewed, yet later it won design awards; people liked New Coke, but it bombed) and falls back on that typical anti-design-research stance - why ask people what they want when they can’t tell you?

Fortunately, Gladwell is smarter than that and really just encourages us to be careful what we ask, how we ask it, and how we interpret it. As a researcher myself, I’d like to hear an acknowledgement of the skills that we bring to the process, that Gladwell understands that “asking someone” isn’t simply asking them, and that listening to them isn’t simply taking down their answers and totalling them. In this presentation, he pokes at it, but he doesn’t quite come out and say it…