Subconscious - Decision Making

Goals

To understand how much of the decision-making process actually happens in the subconscious. An ideal response would address the decisions people make and how they make them. This should be supported by credible and reliable scientific papers and studies.

Early Findings

  • In a study published in Nature Neuroscience by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, in collaboration with the Charité University Hospital and the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience in Berlin, decision-making may be a process handled to a large extent by subconscious mental activity. " "Many processes in the brain occur automatically and without involvement of our consciousness. This prevents our mind from being overloaded by simple routine tasks. But when it comes to decisions we tend to assume they are made by our conscious mind. This is questioned by our current findings."
  • By looking at brain activity while making a decision, researchers could predict what choice people would make 7-10 seconds before they themselves were even aware of having made a decision. This means that even when people think they are making a conscious, logical, decision, chances are that they aren’t aware that they’ve already made a decision and that it was unconscious. We aren’t even aware of our own process.
  • There is a neuron that fires up in the brain that triggers people to take action when the brain decides it is confident of a decision. This is subjective. It’s not necessarily based on the amount of information you’ve collected, it’s a feeling of confidence.
  • According to Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman, by studying consumer's unconscious physical reactions, Zaltman found that what they really think or feel often contradicts what they say. According to Mr. Zaltman, a big reason is that they are driven by unconscious urges, the biggest of which is emotion.
  • Neuroscience research by Soon and others in 2008, demonstrated that the brain is subconsciously aware of our decisions before we have consciously made those very decisions. In other words, people already come up with a decision or an answer, before they realize they have.
  • These findings by Soon actually complement research done into how a persons gut intuition works. For example, Voss and Paller in 2009 found evidence that suggests the brain accesses intuition by tapping into memories and information embedded within our brains at a more subconscious level, rather than at a conscious level.
  • A study published by the University of New South Wales, asked subjects inside an MRI machine to make a choice between two visual patterns of red and green stripes and to consciously visualize them has shown that some decisions exist in our brains long before we consciously make them, suggesting we may have less control over our personal choices than we think.
  • In addition to this public search, we scanned our proprietary research database of over 1 million sources and were unable to find any specific research reports that address the stated goals.

Summary Of Our Early Findings Relevant To The Goals

  • Our first hour of research was spent primarily on finding recent studies, but the majority of what we found was older. The studies still seem to hold up, so we are suggesting that older sources (older than 24 months) be included in the research.
  • While researching, we found that many sources used unconscious and subconscious interchangeably as a noun. Consequently, we included some data about the unconscious, but we can be directed away from that in any reply if that is required.
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