Posts Tagged ‘Caroline Williams’

Make Decisions

January 14, 2017

HM works from his iPAD.  This is the print title of an article by Caroline Williams in the October 1 issue of the New Scientist.  The healthy memory blog has stressed the importance of the unconscious mind and provided suggestions as to how to make use of your unconscious mind.  This and the following blog posts taken from this issue of the New Scientist elaborate on these ideas.

Ap Dijksyrthuis of Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands proposed this counter-intuitive idea 12 years ago.  He had found that volunteers asked to make a complex decision—such as choosing between different apartments based on a baffling array of specifications—made better choices after being distracted from the problem before deciding.  He reasoned that this is because unconscious thought can move beyond the limited capacity of working memory, so it can process more information at once.

Although his reasoning as to why unconscious thought might be superior is correct, the conclusion that important decisions should be based on unconscious thought is not only wrong, but dangerous.  Important decisions need to be reviewed by conscious thought before they are implemented.  In fact, there have been many healthy memory posts recommending to say “let me sleep on it,” before any important decisions are made.  This provides ample time for both conscious and unconscious processing.

Many think that unconscious processing is important for creativity, including HM.  As Dijksyrthius suggested, unconscious processing circumvents the constraints of working memory, primarily as there are no time constraints on unconscious processing, which can also occur while we’re sleeping.  Just taking a break from work can be quite helpful.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How to Make the Unconscious Conscious

January 13, 2017

HM works from his iPAD.  This is the print title of an article by Caroline Williams in the October 1 issue of the New Scientist.  The healthymemory blog has stressed the importance of the unconscious mind and provided suggestions as to how to make use of your unconscious mind.  This and other blog posts taken from this issue of the New Scientist elaborate on these ideas.

Russell Hurlburt, a psychologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas uses the following technique to make the unconscious conscious.  He asks volunteers to wear an earpiece linked to a beeper, which goes off at random intervals six times a day, prompting them to note they thoughts.  At the conclusion of the day, Hurlburt conducts an hour long interview to tease out what people were thinking and how.  After four decades of research, Hurlburt has concluded that most people have no idea of what is running through their minds, but that they can be taught to tune into it in just a few days.

Hurlburt believes that we’re conscious of such thoughts while having them, but then they vanish “like a dream upon waking.”  The beeper is similar to mindfulness meditation.  Zen monks have a similar system —they sound a gong and you  pay attention to what’s going on right now.

Research has shown that regular meditators were quicker than others to consciously register a decision made by the unconscious mind.  There are many healthy memory blog posts on mindfulness and meditation.  And this is one of the many reasons for mindfulness and meditation, to get in touch with our unconscious minds.

Anyone with a cellphone can download Dr. Hurlburt’s app, IPromptU, cogtherapy.com

Fooling Ourselves Beneficially

May 15, 2013

The following bits of wisdom are taken from an article in the April 6, 2013 edition of the New Scientist, “Lost In Translation” by Caroline Williams. The article reports a study1 showing how faking calmness and confidence can not only change the way others see us, but can help us change ourselves. The participants in this experiment were asked to hold either a “high power” or a “ “low power” pose for two minutes. The high power pose was expansive, including sitting with legs on a desk and hands behind the head and standing with legs apart and hands on the hips. The low power pose involved hunching and taking up little space. Then they played a gambling game where the odds of winning were 50:50. The researchers took saliva samples to test for the levels of testosterone and cortisol. Testosterone is a “power’ hormone, whereas cortisol is a “stress” hormone. Those in the high power pose group were significantly more likely to gamble than those in the low power pose group (86% to 60%). Participants in the high power pose group had a 20% increase in testosterone and a 25% decrease in cortisol, whereas those in the low power pose group had a 10% decrease in testosterone and a 15% increase in cortisol. Increased testosterone has also been linked to increased pain tolerance.

Research has also shown that sitting up straight leads to positive emotions, whereas sitting with hunched shoulders leads to feeling down. There is plenty of research that has also shown that faking a smile makes you feel happier, whereas faking a frown has the opposite effect. There is even evidence that people with Botox injections, which prevent them from frowning, feel generally happier. Of course, there are other interpretations for the Botox results.

The New Scientist article ends with an excerpt from one of Madonna’s hits: “Don’t just stand there, let’s get to it, strike a pose. There’s something to it.”

1Carney, D. Psychological Science, 21, p.1463.