Posts Tagged ‘Psychology’

Making Conscious Choices, Part II

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

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I wrote recently about making conscious choices: Effortfully deciding what to do while I’m exhausted from jetlag, to maximize my very limited resources. You should read that post, and my discussion with Ona in the comments, before reading this one.

This post is about some thoughts prompted by Ona’s last comment:

I’m also fascinated by the occasional studies that imply we actually make all our decisions before we are consciously aware of them, and then go through the reasoning process afterwards, so we *think* we are deciding deliberately but it’s really all a bit more spontaneous. (overview of the idea:

I’m familiar with this research. (I have a degree in psychology, actually.) It’s pretty compelling: We register a visceral reaction before we’re consciously aware of the decision, then we rationalize that visceral reaction. This is part of why we’re so bad at making decisions: That snap judgement sometimes gets it wrong, and no amount of rationalizing a wrong choice will make the choice right.

After Ona’s comment, I started thinking about how it feels to consciously choose, and I think it feels like re-evaluating what I actually want. Like triggering the unconscious process to evaluate how much I like something, using new data. In essence, I think that consciously deciding is about consciously thinking about all the angles — how will the decision will impact my schedule, when I get to sleep, my tasks tomorrow, and so on — and then re-running the unconscious decision based on those considerations.

I hadn’t thought of this until reading Ona’s comment, so it’s a suspicion, not a strong model. But it does feel accurate, and since I developed this as my tentative model, it’s easier to consciously trigger a re-evaluation. And, when a model makes the task easier, that’s a good sign that you’re on the right track.

Now, I’m not sure how much this belongs on a magick blog, because it’s not really magick. I’d say that it’s mental gymnastics made easier by magick training, because I have a ton of practice triggering unconscious thought processes to do magick. But this, itself, I think is just normal psychology.


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