Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Trust Your Instincts

New research by Ap Dijksterhuis and his colleagues at the University of Amsterdam suggests that we would be better off thinking about the simple choices, and leaving the life-changing decisions to our unconscious mind.

Dijksterhuis asked his test subjects to choose between four hypothetical cars on the basis of a set of specifications (whether the car had a sunroof, low mileage, etc) that could be either simple (only four specifications) or complex (12 specifications). One group was given four minutes to consider the problem; the other group was shown the specification and then immediately distracted by another task. Surprisingly, the subjects with plenty of time to think fared better when faced with a simple decision (four specifications) but worse when the problem was more complex (12 specifications).
Interesting. I wonder though if what we call the "unconscious" could also be thought of as the "previously conscious". When you are looking at the words in this post, you are not consciously aware of figuring out what each letter is and how it forms the word. This is all occurring unconsciously. But, when you were a kid you had to consciously figure out each letter and turn them into words.

The point being that we often times think of the unconscious mind as being outside of our control. But if we think of it instead as the previously conscious mind, then we can affect how it works through repeated training.

via The Guradian

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