Where the mind goes | Sarah Taryam - GulfToday

Where the mind goes

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The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Sarah Taryam, Arts Editor

Have you ever wondered what leads us into making all the decisions that we make in life? From the day-to-day choices to the bigger life altering ones, the question of choice and whether we operate from the conscious or subconscious mind has long been the subject of debate. This week we delve into the world of choices and why we make them.

Psychological science has conducted umpteen studies about the conscious and subconscious mind over the years. Back in the 1980s a psychologist by the name of Benjamin Libet conducted an experiment in which he asked people to flex their finger whenever they wanted and remember the position of a light on a clock face when they experienced the first urge to do so. Measuring brain activity, his findings showed that unconscious mechanisms, by way of preparatory neural activity, set us up for any action we decide to take.  

There are many subcategories of the unconscious process of decision making. We have unconscious manipulation, unconscious decision-making, unconscious bias and the nudge. A nudge would be when we are “nudged” into making better choices by, for example, making sweets less accessible in the store than fruit. The experiments conducted on all these aspects of choice show a variety of findings. Some things we do by conscious choice, and other things we do simply out of habit without really thinking about it. Read on to discover more about this fascinating topic.

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