Monday, April 09, 2007

Let the Unconscious Mind make the decision for you

One of the readings for the Advanced Marketing Class had a HBR article called "Breakthrough Ideas for 2007"

One of the ideas in that article was on "When to Sleep on It". It was written by Ap Dijksterhuis,is a professor of psychology at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. I really liked his views where he states that sometimes the unconscious mind in us takes some decision that are right. I can't explain it but I have experienced this before and agree with him. While playing Squash,some times I end up taking a decision unconsciously.

Anyway, here is what he wrote in the article:

......Luckily, there is another way to make difficult choices: Don’t think hard about the decision, and after a while your unconscious mind, which is known to have a far greater processing capacity than your conscious mind, will tell you
what you should do. Such an unconsciously generated preference is usually referred to as intuition or a gut feeling – a conviction that one alternative is better than another, even when we can’t verbalize why.

The notion of trusting your intuition is, of course, far from new; but what was unexamined until now is whether extensive unconscious thought can make intuition more reliable. Thus, my colleagues and I conducted experiments to test the power of the unconscious mind as a processor of information.We gave our subjects information pertaining to a choice – for example, which of four apartments was the most attractive, or which of four cars was the best. They had three options: They could make a choice immediately; they could take time for conscious deliberation; or they
could figuratively sleep on it – that is, engage in unconscious thought. The subjects who chose the third option were first given information about the decision in question and then given information about an unrelated task,to occupy their conscious minds while their unconscious minds processed the relevant information.

When the unconscious thinkers were asked to choose one of the alternatives, they made better decisions, almost without exception, than the subjects who decided immediately or those who consciously deliberated. Their decisions
were better from a normative perspective (more rationally justifiable), from a subjective perspective (more likely to produce post-choice satisfaction), and from an objective perspective (more accurate, as in predictions of soccer-match

The moral? Use your conscious mind to acquire all the information you need
for making a decision – but don’t try to analyze the information. Instead, go on
holiday while your unconscious mind digests it for a day or two. Whatever
your intuition then tells you is almost certainly going to be the best choice.

I am not sure if this is always true but I have personally experienced this and till a certain extent agree with it.



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