Monday, February 19, 2007

Success Secrets - The Unconscious Mind Part 1

I have posted in the past about my experience with written affirmations and of my occasional frustration with more explicit and “rational” goal-setting. It is very interesting to note that scientists are now seriously exploring and testing the results achieved by the unconscious mind.

In a previous post, here, I mentioned the online availability of Harvard Business Review’s “Breakthrough Ideas for 2007”. One of the mini-summaries included the work of Dutch Psychologist Ap Dijksterhuis who has done experimental work on the use of the unconscious mind in decision-making. His findings indicate that there may be provable scientific confirmation of the unconscious mind’s power to solve problems and even produce superior results to conscious thought. He posed problems to his test subjects and gave them the choice to decide the answer immediately, to think about it consciously, or to let the subjects’ unconscious minds work on the problems. His results.:

“… the unconscious thinkers ….. made better decisions, almost without exception, than the subjects who decided immediately or those who consciously deliberated.”

The article goes onto suggest that the conscious mind actually has very little processing power compared to the unconscious, and its main use should be for acquiring the data, not processing it.

In that vein, I have always wondered if I had a “screw loose”, because I often found answers to my problems in a “flash” of inspiration, but very rarely achieved good results from attempting to sit down and think through a problem. This article encourages me to use my conscious mind for hunting for valuable inputs (such a s my work on this blog) and then allowing my unconscious mind to craft some of the solutions. This was standard practise in my previous career, a creative field where I naturally came to solutions through “flahes of inspiration”, and now I see that the possibilities for achieving results in less obviously creative pursuits are also there.

Dijksterhuis has also written a paper, entitled “A Theory of Unconscious Thought”, which is available here.


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