alexa Unconscious influences on decision making: A critical review
Psychiatry

Psychiatry

Abnormal and Behavioural Psychology

Author(s): Vladimir J Koneni

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To what extent do we know our own minds when making decisions? Variants of this question have preoccupied researchers in a wide range of domains, from mainstream experimental psychology (cognition, perception, socia l behavior ) to cognitive neuroscience and behavior al economics. A pervasive view places a heavy explanatory burden on an intelligent cognitive unconscious, with many theories assigning causally effective roles to unconscious influences. This article presen ts a novel framework for evaluating these claims and reviews evidence from three major bodies of research in which unconscious factors have been studied: mult iple - cue judgment, deliberation without attention , and decisions under uncertainty . Studies of pri ming (subliminal and primes - to - behavior) and the role of awareness in movement and perception (e.g., timing of willed actions, blindsight) are also given brief consideration . The review highlights that inadequate procedures for assessing awareness, failure s to consider artifactual explanations of “ landmark ” results, and a tendency to uncritically accept conclusions that fit with our intuitions have all contributed to unconscious influences being ascribed inflated and erroneous explanatory power in theories of decision making. The review concludes by recommending that future research should focus on tasks in which participants’ attention is diverted away from the experimenter’s hypothesis, rather than the highly reflective tasks that are currently often emplo yed.

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This article was published in Abnormal and Behavioural Psychology and referenced in Abnormal and Behavioural Psychology

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