Talking to Strangers

Talking to Strangers is a nonfiction book by Malcolm Gladwell.

Malcolm Gladwell

How did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation? Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise? Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to each other that isn''t true?

Talking to Strangers is a classically Gladwellian intellectual adventure, a challenging and controversial excursion through history, psychology, and scandals taken straight from the news. He revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, the suicide of Sylvia Plath, the Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal at Penn State University, and the death of Sandra Bland — throwing our understanding of these and other stories into doubt. Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don''t know. And because we don''t know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world. (From Little, Brown & Company

Malcolm Gladwell is the author of several books, including Blink, Outliers and The Tipping Point.

Why Malcolm Gladwell wrote Talking to Strangers


"One of the principal arguments in this book comes from a man named Tim Levine who was a researcher at the University of Alabama. He argues that there is a long standing puzzle in psychology: why are we so bad at detecting lies? 

"Tim Levine says it's because we didn't evolve to be lie detectors; we evolved to be believers. Evolution favoured the people who had faith and had trust in their fellow men and women.

When we are deceived, it's not because we're doing something wrong as human beings, it's because we're doing something right.- Malcolm Gladwell

"If you're a trusting person, you can do a million things that no one else can do. You could have warm and supportive relationships. You can participate in your community. You can start companies, put your child on the school bus in the morning and not spend the whole day wracked in worry. And because most people are honest, that's a really good strategy.

"But it just means that, every now and again, you'll be deceived. Levine says we should be prepared to pay that price. When we are deceived, it's not because we're doing something wrong as human beings, it's because we're doing something right."

Read more from his interview with The Next Chapter.

Interviews with Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell on his new book Talking to Strangers, about how we make wrong assumptions when dealing with people we don’t know.
Blink and Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell presents Revisionist History, a new show that offers a surprising new angle on the past.

Other books by Malcolm Gladwell