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Subconsciousness’ Effect on the Decision-Making Ability

Subconscious can be described as a second mind, a hidden mind existing within a person. It is a kind of storage for all the information that is not in your conscious mind. It is that part of one’s mind that remembers information which we are not actively doing so. This part of the mind controls emotions, values, beliefs, intuitions, etc.

Decision-making is the cognitive process of making choices by gathering information, looking out for alternatives, etc. We all make decisions every day, every minute of our life. Throughout the day we make decisions, at work, at home, and in public. There is constant decision-making throughout the day. We make the decision even when we are not aware of it. When it comes to decision making many of them are under the impression that our consciousnesses make our decision, but almost all the time our subconscious is the one that helps us make decisions.

90% of our mind is subconscious and 10% is conscious. Most of our decisions are made by the subconscious mind. Many of the decisions made while cooking or listening to music driving a car or walking down the street, for most of the decisions made in these situations, we go from a very short period of time when we are conscious. Many of it, not the majority but these everyday life decisions are made at a varying level of subconsciousness. The more we come to know about our minds, we know that they work better subconsciously. Research finds out that the subconscious mind helps in decision-making, creativity, insights, etc. It’s also shown that subconscious is more effective in decision-making in some cases when a person is not in the state or have any issues with self. From years we have dealt in our internal mind and external world which constantly put in situations where we have to be ready (fight and flight situations), and for situations like this our subconscious is always the one helping us.

The subconscious decision we make is what we call the “gut” feeling. A gut feeling is when we deep inside know that something is not good for us or the gut feeling is also when we have plenty number of options. For example, if a person is a drug addict and he somewhere knows that it is not good for his health, so here, him knowing that drugs are not good for the health is the subconscious mind knowing the fact that drugs are a bad habit.

Our mind has an ample number of data, it can be positive or negative, love, hatred, etc. Experts say that the human mind thinks around 60,000-80,000 thoughts a day, which is a very big number. It has everything we ever thought, seen, perceived, touched with our hands or body, smelled, etc. And all these are down there stored therein our subconscious mind even for years.

All these options in the subconscious mind sort out how advantageous or disadvantageous each emotion felt at some or other time. So that helps the mind make subconscious decisions.

To see how much influence your subconscious has on this type of decision-making, a research team at Carnegie Mellon enlisted 27 healthy adults to undergo brain-imaging scans during mental testing.

The subjects were given information about cars and other items while connected to a magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, machine. Before they were allowed to make a decision, they had to memorize a sequence of numbers. Researchers did this to prevent the subjects from actively thinking about the cars.

The brain scans showed that while test subjects were learning about the cars and other items, the visual and prefrontal cortices—the parts of the brain responsible for decision-making and learning—were working as usual.

The surprising part—which researchers say provides the first insight into the way the brain unconsciously processes information—is that these same areas remained active during the number memorization task.

Processing Information in the Background

For lack of a better analogy, it’s like when your phone downloads a song while you send a text message. Your phone is focusing on the new information (the text), while it processes something more complicated at the same time.

Even with the memorization distraction, researchers found that allowing the brain to unconsciously process information leads to more clear-headed decisions. Those whose brains showed the most continuing activity during the memory task were more likely to choose the “best” car in the set.

“This research begins to chip away at the mystery of our unconscious brains and decision-making,” J. David Creswell, assistant professor of psychology at CMU, said in a press release. “It shows that brain regions important for decision-making remain active even while our brains may be simultaneously engaged in unrelated tasks, such as thinking about a math problem. What’s most intriguing about this finding is that participants did not have any awareness that their brains were still working on the decision problem while they were engaged in an unrelated task.” References

How Can Subconscious Affect Your Decision-Making Ability?, by Khushi Patel


This Blog on 'Subconsciousness’ Effect on the Decision-Making Ability' has been contributed by Chrisann D'souza. She is an ambitious and results-driven individual. She loves to learn about the human psyche and hopes to raise awareness about mental health, gender issues, and cruelty to animals. She is part of the International Journal of Neurolinguistics & Gestalt Psychology, IJNGP is a peer-reviewed journal that serves as a platform for the enrichment, articulation, and support of the constantly emerging field dedicated to promoting the study and research in Neurolinguistics Gestalt Psychology, and Therapy.

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