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Conscious vs. unconscious thought in making complicated decisions

Published: Tuesday, December 9, 2008 - 18:22 in Psychology & Sociology

When faced with a difficult decision, we try to come up with the best choice by carefully considering all of the options, maybe even resorting to lists and lots of sleepless nights. So it may be surprising that recent studies have suggested that the best way to deal with complex decisions is to not think about them at all - that unconscious thought will help us make the best choices.

Although this may seem like an appealing strategy, new research in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, cautions that there are limitations in the efficacy of unconscious thought making the best decisions.

Duke University researchers John W. Payne, Adriana Samper, James R. Bettman and Mary Frances Luce had volunteers participate in a lottery choice task, where they had to pick from four various options, each with a different, but close, payoff.

The volunteers were divided into three groups for this task: one group was instructed to think about the task for a given amount of time, another group was told to think about the task for as long as they wanted and the last group was distracted before making their selection (thus, unconsciously thinking about the task).

A second experiment was similarly set up, except that there were substantial differences in the payoffs of the different options.

The researchers found that there are situations where unconscious thought will not result in the best choice being selected.

The findings showed that in some instances (when the payoffs were similar), thinking about the task for as only as long as it takes to make a decision was as effective as unconscious thought, resulting in the most profitable options being chosen.

However, when there were large differences in the amount of money to be won, mulling over the decision at their own pace led the volunteers to larger payoffs than unconscious thought.

The volunteers who were told to consciously think about the decision for a specific amount of time performed poorly in both experiments. The authors explain that those volunteers had "too much time to think" about the task and suggest that their attention shifted "to information of lesser relevance," resulting in less profitable decisions.

These results suggest that although unconscious thought may help us make the right decision in some instances, it is often better to rely on self-paced conscious thought and really focus on the problem at hand.

Source: Association for Psychological Science

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Thinking like a president: How power affects complex decision making

Published: Tuesday, December 9, 2008 - 18:22 in Psychology & Sociology

Presidential scholars have written volumes trying to understand the presidential mind. How can anyone juggle so many complicated decisions? Do those seeking office have a unique approach to decision making?

Studies have suggested that power changes not only a person's responsibilities, but also the way they think. Now, a new study in the December issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, indicates that having power may lead people to automatically think in a way that makes complex decision-making easier.

Psychologists Pamela Smith, Ap Dijksterhuis and DaniŽl Wigboldus of Radboud University Nijmegen stimulated feelings of powerlessness or power in a group of volunteers by having some volunteers recall a situation when other people had power over them and other volunteers recall a situation when they had power over other people.

Then they were given a complicated problem to solve (they had to pick among four cars, each varying on 12 different attributes). The experiment was designed so that there was a "correct" solution—that is, one of the cars had the most positive and least negative attributes, although the optimal choice was not obvious. Both the "powerful" and the "powerless" volunteers chose among the cars, but some spent time consciously thinking about the problem, while others were distracted with a word puzzle.

Previous research has shown that most people can solve complex problems better if they engage in unconscious thinking, rather than try to deliberately examine and weigh each factor. The conscious mind is not able to consider every possibility—attempts to do so bog the mind down in too much detail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unconscious thinkers are better at solving complicated problems because they are able to think abstractly and very quickly get to the gist of the problem—they do not spend a lot of time focusing on insignificant details of the problem.

The results showed that the "powerless" volunteers performed better when they were distracted—that is, when they unconsciously thought about the problem. More interestingly, the "powerful" participants performed equally well regardless of whether they were in the conscious thinking or unconscious thinking group.

These findings indicate that powerful people's conscious deliberation is very much like the unconscious processing of the rest of us—more abstract and better when it comes to complex decisions.

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Overcoming Nonstop Thinking
by Remez Sasson

Are you aware that your mind is always occupied with thoughts? Are you aware that thoughts constantly demand your attention, dictate your behavior and reactions?

Do you sometimes feel that your mind is going to explode from nonstop thinking? Can you focus your attention on what you are doing at any moment, or are you constantly distracted by all kinds of thoughts, negative thinking or negative expectations? You need to learn to overcome your nonstop thinking in order to gain control over your attention.

Do you sometimes wish your mind could just stop thinking for a little while, and let you enjoy some rest and peace? Like an engine, it has to rest to avoid wear and tear. It needs some rest from time to time, in order to recharge itself and your body.

The mind often looks like a cluttered room, with no free space and no place to move. When you empty your room it will look bigger and tidier, and it will be more pleasant to be there. So it is with your mind. Remove the clutter - the unnecessary thoughts, the worries and the fears, and your life would look happier and brighter.

You are probably not constantly aware of the restlessness of your mind, because this became a habit and you got accustomed to it, yet, thoughts keep coming and going, occupying your mind every moment of the day, spending up mental and emotional energy, and sometimes making your head ache.

Tension, strain and pressure at work and at home make the mind even more restless, and attract more thoughts into it. Problems, difficulties, fears, worries and hurt feelings increase even more the mental restlessness and lack of inner peace, making you more acutely aware of the swarm of thoughts coming into your mind and making you feel helpless. It is during such times that you desperately feel the need for inner peace and freedom from endless thinking.

When you need to focus your attention, study or meditate, you are again confronted with thoughts that swarm into your mind, disturbing and distracting your attention. This also happens when you are worried, angry or emotionally excited. You feel unable to stop the flow of thoughts and emotions that prevent clear thinking, calmness or self-control.

During such times you just want to scream at the mind to stop thinking. You feel that your mind has broken any control and barriers, and that it is working on its own, sometimes to your detriment. It is like being helpless in a rudderless boat in the midst of the ocean, and all you want is some steady and safe land.

It is in times of worry, stress, fear and strain that inner peace of mind is greatly desired and appreciated. Actually, inner peace and freedom from restless and incessant thinking is a great boon anytime and everywhere. It makes you happier, stronger, more confident and happy.

Imagine how it would be to live your life, work, interact with people, read, watch TV, travel or do anything else, without thoughts and worries claiming your attention. Just think how your concentration would become stronger and your five senses sharper! Just imagine how your understanding, comprehension, awareness and intuition will increase!

You need mental and emotional training, in order to overcome nonstop thinking and free yourself the compulsion, and it is a compulsion, to think incessantly and involuntary, and fill your mind with thoughts that weaken you and distract your attention. You also need to develop some degree of inner detachment and mastery over your mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are no short cuts to overcoming nonstop thinking and lack of inner peace. The aim is not to stunt your mind through hypnosis or subliminal programming, but to gain real inner peace, which you can enjoy while staying active, pursuing your goals, and while handling more efficiently and peacefully your daily affairs of life.

Everything worth having requires work and effort. You cannot become a pilot, an Olympic champion or an engineer by listening to a CD, hypnotizing yourself or saying some magic words. Developing inner abilities, such as calming down your mind, is no different.

For practical tips and advice about gaining inner peace, please visit:
http://www.successconsciousness.com/peace_mind.htm

For a complete training program for inner peace and mental mastery, please visit:
http://www.successconsciousness.com/books/peace-of-mind-in-daily-life.htm

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© Copyright Remez Sasson

Remez Sasson teaches and writes on positive thinking, creative visualization, motivation, self-improvement, peace of mind, spiritual growth and meditation. He is the author of several books, among which are "Peace of mind in Daily Life", "Will Power and Self Discipline", "Visualize and Achieve" and "Affirmations - Words of Power".

Visit his website and find articles and books filled with inspiration, motivation and practical advice and guidance.
Website: http://www.SuccessConsciousness.com
Books: http://www.successconsciousness.com/ebooks_and_books.htm

The Power of Repeated Words and Thoughts
by Remez Sasson

Thinking is usually a mixture of words, sentences, mental images and sensations. Thoughts are visitors, who visit the central station of the mind. They come, stay a while, and then disappear, making space for other thoughts. Some of these thoughts stay longer, gain power, and affect the life of the person thinking them.

It seems that most people let thoughts connected with worries, fears, anger or unhappiness occupy their mind most of the time. They keep engaging their mind with inner conversation about negative situations and actions. This inner conversation eventually affects the subconscious mind, making it accept and take seriously the thoughts and ideas expressed in those inner conversations.

It is of vital importance to be careful of what goes into the subconscious mind. Words and thoughts that are repeated often get stronger by the repetitions, sink into the subconscious mind and affect the behavior, actions and reactions of the person involved.

The subconscious mind regards the words and thoughts that get lodged inside it as expressing and describing a real situation, and therefore endeavors to align the words and thoughts with reality. It works diligently to make these words and thoughts a reality in the life of the person saying or thinking them.

This means that if you often tell yourself that it is difficult or impossible to acquire money, the subconscious mind will accept your words and put obstacles in your way. If you keep telling yourself that you are rich, it will find ways to bring you opportunities to get rich, and push you towards taking advantage of these opportunities.

The thoughts that you express through your words shape your life. This is often done unconsciously, as few pay attention to their thoughts and the words they use while thinking, and let outside circumstances and situations determine what they think about. In this case there is no freedom. Here, the outside world affects the inner world.

If you consciously choose the thoughts, phrases and words that you repeat in your mind, your life will start to change. You will begin creating new situations and circumstances. You will be using the power of affirmations.

Affirmations are sentences that are repeated often during the day, and which sink into the subconscious mind, thereby releasing its enormous power to materialize the intention of the words and phrases in the outside world. This does not mean that every word you utter will bring results. In order to trigger the subconscious mind into action, the words have to be said with attention, intention and with feeling.

In order to obtain positive results, affirmations have to be phrased in positive words. Look at the following two sentences:

1. I am not weak anymore.

2. I am strong and powerful.

Though both sentences seem to express the same idea, but in different words, the first one is a negative sentence. It creates in the mind a mental image of weakness. This is wrong wording. The second sentence awakens in the mind a mental image of strength.

It is not enough to say an affirmation a few times, and then expect your life to change. More than this is necessary. It is important to affirm with attention, as well as with strong desire, faith and persistence. It is also important to choose the right affirmation for any specific situation. You need to feel comfortable with it; otherwise the affirmation may not work or may bring you something that you do not really want.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Affirmations can be used together with creative visualization, to strengthen it, and they can be used separately, on their own. They are of special importance for people who find it difficult to visualize. In this case they serve as a substitution to creative visualization.

Instead of repeating negative and useless words and phrases in the mind, you can choose positive words and phrases to help you build the life you want. By choosing your thoughts and words you exercise control over your life.

Here are a few affirmations:

- Day by day I am becoming happier and more satisfied.

- With every inhalation I am filling myself with happiness.

- Love is filling my life now.

- The power of the Cosmos is filling my life with love.

- A lot of money is flowing now into my life.

- The power of the Universal Mind is now filling my life with wealth.

- The powerful and vital energy of the Cosmos is flowing and filling my body and mind.

- Healing energy is constantly filling every cell of my body.

- I always stay calm and in control of myself, in every situation and in all circumstances.

- I am having a wonderful, happy and fascinating day.

© Copyright Remez Sasson

Remez Sasson teaches and writes on positive thinking, creative visualization, motivation, self-improvement, peace of mind, spiritual growth and meditation. He is the author of several books, among which are "Peace of mind in Daily Life", "Will Power and Self Discipline", "Visualize and Achieve" and "Affirmations - Words of Power".

Visit his website and find articles and books filled with inspiration, motivation and practical advice and guidance.
Website: http://www.SuccessConsciousness.com
Books: http://www.successconsciousness.com/ebooks_and_books.htm

 

 

 

 

Complex decision? Don't sleep on it

Published: Sunday, August 10, 2008 - 23:56 in Psychology & Sociology

Neither snap judgements nor sleeping on a problem are any better than conscious thinking for making complex decisions, according to new research. The finding debunks a controversial 2006 research result asserting that unconscious thought is superior for complex decisions, such as buying a house or car. If anything, the new study suggests that conscious thought leads to better choices.

Since its publication two years ago by a Dutch research team in the journal Science, the earlier finding had been used to encourage decision-makers to make "snap" decisions (for example, in the best-selling book Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell) or to leave complex choices to the powers of unconscious thought ("Sleep on it", Dijksterhuis et al., Science, 2006).

But in the new study, to be published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, scientists ran four experiments in which participants were presented with complex decisions and asked to choose the best option immediately ("blink"), after a period of conscious deliberation ("think"), or after a period of distraction ("sleep on it"), which is claimed to encourage "unconscious thought processes".

In all experiments, there was some evidence that conscious deliberation can lead to better choices and little evidence for superiority of choices made "unconsciously". Faced with making decisions such as choosing a rental apartment and buying a car, most participants made choices predicted by their subjective preferences for certain attributes (for example, safety, security, colour or price), regardless of the mode of thinking employed.

Unconscious thought is claimed to be an active process during which information is organized, weighted, and integrated in an optimal fashion. Its benefits are argued to be strongest when a decision is complex - one with multiple options and attributes - because unconscious thought does not suffer from the capacity limitations that hobble conscious thought.

"Claims that we can make superior 'snap' decisions by trusting intuition or through the 'power' of unconscious thought have received a great deal of attention in the media," says University of New South Wales psychologist, Dr Ben Newell, lead author of the new study.

Among the headlines that followed the 2006 research are these:

  • "Dilemma? Don't give it a thought," The Times, 17-02-06;

  • "Trust your gut instinct when those shopping decisions get tough, say scientists," The Telegraph, UK, 17-02-06;

  • "Big decision time? Best to sleep on it," Reuters News, 16-02-06.

"At best, these sorts of headlines are misleading," says Dr Newell. "At worst, they're outright dangerous. In stark contrast to claims made by the Dutch research team and in the media, we found very little evidence of the superiority of unconscious thought for complex decisions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"On the contrary, our research suggests that unconscious thought is more susceptible to irrelevant factors, such as how recently information has been seen rather than how important it is. If conscious thinkers are given adequate time to encode material, or are allowed to consult material while they deliberate, their choices are at least as good as those made 'unconsciously'."

Source: University of New South Wales

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4 Easy Ways To Change Your Thoughts
by Capri Jones
 
Begin a search into personal development techniques and you will quickly come across the statement that your thoughts create your reality. From channeled books by Seth and Jane Roberts to Depak Chopra , Wayne Dyer, and the film The Secret; the message is the same. You can change the reality that you experience by changing what you think. So, the next question to address is "How do I effectively change my thoughts?"

As you work on changing your thoughts it is helpful to realize that your thoughts are nothing more than an electrical impulse between two synapses, the result of a chemical reaction in your brain.

Steps to Change Your Thoughts

1) Pay attention to your thoughts: When a thought comes up simply ask yourself is this thought true? You see, you are not enjoying reality because you are lying to your self, well at least your thoughts are. If you pay attention to your inner dialog you will find that many of the thoughts you are having are negative, creating for you a negative life experience. Your thoughts lie to you, but you don't have to believe it.

2) Retrain yourself through repetition: Repeatedly writing out what you want to believe, you retrain yourself into having the positive thoughts you desire. BY repeatedly writing down what you wish to create in your life you will draw it to you, just through having focus on it.

3) The benefits of Visualization: If you use
creative visualization and picture yourself pursuing the activities you wish to do, you begin to create reality to match your vision. Visualization exercises draw to you the things and circumstances you envision in your mind, reality follows at a slower pace but it will eventually catch up. The key to powerful visualization manifestation is daily practice. The more you see the results that you desire in your mind the quicker they will manifest in your reality.

4) Witness: By witnessing or watching yourself you can detach from repetitive negative thought patterns. You can allow the negative thoughts to pass, replacing them with positive messages.

You are what you believe you are. If you believe you can do something, you will find the way to accomplish it. If you don't believe in yourself you give up before even trying. "Believe it can be done. When you believe something can be done, really believe, your mind will find the ways to do it. Believing a solution paves the way to solution." (Dr. David Schwartz)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Author's Bio
Capri Jones is founder of surThrival Enterprises, a company dedicated to helping people reach their goals of success in every area of life. Be sure to visit
www.thrivingnotsurviving.com for information on visualization,motivation and personal development courses. Sign up for the free ecourse and find out how you can create the life you really want to live.
 
source site: www.selfgrowth.com

Peace of Mind is a Thought Away: As You Master Your Thoughts, You Master Your Life
by Yanni Maniates
 
Our thoughts are our only "real" possessions. For wherever we go, whatever we do, they are always with us. They either uplift and inspire us or they burden us with negativity and heaviness. I would like to explore the role of thought in our life and how powerful our thoughts and their subsequent emotions really are.

Usually, most of us barely pay any attention to what we are thinking. We spend more time choosing the clothing we wear, the food we eat, the car we drive, than we do choosing the thoughts we have.

Yet, our thoughts have a profound influence on us. How we feel, how we act, what we attract or repel in our life is wholly the result of the kinds of thoughts we "choose." In fact, all the experiences that come to us in our lives, every circumstance, relationship, possession, "luck" (good or bad), indeed everything that comprises our daily experience, is a result of the predominant thoughts we hold and the feelings that accompany those thoughts.

How is it that our thoughts and feelings create what we experience in our lives? It is because of a simple universal law: "like attracts like." What this means is that we attract experiences that are of a similar vibration to our predominant thoughts and feelings. Let's look at an illustration of how this works.

Suppose you want to have more prosperity in your life. Perhaps a flood of very large bills has unexpectedly come in; the car needs a major repair, or even worse, to be replaced; or you might feel a desperate need for a vacation welling up inside. You are very keenly aware of what you most want in your life now: "more money."

Keeping in mind the law that "like attracts like," there are basically two ways to think and feel about this topic. If the person in this example feels negative about her circumstances, focusing upon the lack of money: "I never am able to pay my bills.” “Something always goes wrong with my finances.” “No matter how hard I try, I can never get ahead," etc., a negative signal is sent to the universe.

Since "like attracts like," what will she attract: money or the lack of it? The universe hears this familiar "moneyless" signal, strong and clear; and it responds with more of the same: more unpaid bills, more financial difficulties, still no new opportunities to get ahead, etc.

On the other hand, if this same person, after becoming aware of her desire for more money, begins to imagine how wonderful it would feel to have all the bills paid; imagines the nice, soft hum of a new car while driving down the road; and fantasizes feeling deeply rested while sitting on an exotic beach, she would begin to attract a totally different experience.

Again, since "like attracts like," she would have begun to send a new signal to the universe: one of plenty and abundance.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In time, bit by bit, she would attract the people and circumstances that would allow for what she is dreaming of: all the bills paid for, a new car, a relaxing vacation, and more of the joy and ease she desires.

What is amazing about this process is that it doesn't matter whether our thoughts are being chosen deliberately and consciously, or whether they are selected by "default" in a habitual, mindless, unexamined way. They affect us in the same manner. In the end, conscious or not, we are the creators of our experience.
 
The universe will deliver to us whatever we want. But we cannot ask for a particular thing to come into our lives while we, at the same time, believe we can't have it. It doesn't work that way. We can't say I want a new, red BMW convertible, and at the same time lament that we can't afford it.

The way we feel in any moment is the result of the thoughts we have chosen to dwell on. If we could send the universe a pure signal of what we really want, both in thought and feeling, our life experience would be a much closer match to our desires. The way we feel or "vibrate" is our point of magnetic attraction.
 
The universe does not hear our words; instead, it feels our vibration and sends us more of the same, either positive or negative. What is important to remember is that the thoughts we think create an "energy signature" or vibration around us; and, over time, this vibration sets into motion the kinds of experiences we have.

As human beings, we have been given this incredible gift called “life.” This gift of “life” gives us access to an unlimited supply of pure, positive universal life force energy. Our ability to think is the mechanism by which we summon this life force to us and then "mold" it into whatever we want. We "mold" the energy with the kind, quality, and intensity of the thoughts and corresponding emotions we have. With each thought and feeling we choose, we begin to attract and create something.

So, negative emotions are actually an early guidance system that let us know we are "mis-creating," so to speak. In other words, in that very moment of negativity, our emotions are signaling to us that we are currently focused upon thoughts which are drawing into our life the opposite of what we really desire. Therefore, our feelings are a very important barometer that we need to carefully monitor.

When we stay stuck in negative thoughts, we restrict the flow of the pure, positive, creative life energy that is constantly streaming to us from the universe. So, just as our bodies would respond negatively to the restriction of oxygen, our lives and spirits respond negatively to the restriction of this pure positive energy when we are caught in negative thinking. We can control how much pure positive energy comes to us by the way we think. We can learn to master this powerful energy and be masters of our lives.

Let's look at another example to illustrate this point. Suppose you want very much to develop a loving relationship with someone, but somehow you can never seem to get it to happen. If you honestly examine your thoughts about this subject, you will, for sure, find that you have thoughts that oppose your desire for companionship: i.e., feelings of being unworthy of love, feelings that your freedom would be restricted, etc.

But know that these thoughts, no matter how habitual and deeply ingrained, can be changed. As they are faced and seen for what they are, then embraced and accepted, they can gradually be replaced, thus bringing about the desired change.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The bottom line is this: you cannot expect to receive what you want when the way you feel deep, down inside is its opposite. When you feel unworthy of love, you cannot attract a companion; when you feel poor, you cannot attract prosperity; when you feel overweight, you cannot attract slimness; when you fear illness, you cannot attract health.

Yes, your habit of getting stuck in thoughts is years old; and habits can be quite tenacious. Yet, you can learn to gain mastery over your thoughts. This can be done simply by cultivating a constant awareness of how you feel. For when you realize that you are feeling "off," it is a sure sign that your thoughts are "off," too, and that you are attracting into your experience what you do not want.

So, to change this feeling, trace back and determine what thoughts created the feeling. Then gradually change your thought pattern from a negative one to a positive one. This will then change your vibration. And in time you will manifest what you really want.

It is only by slowing down and observing your patterns of thoughts and feelings that you can ever escape the prison of your old beliefs and fears. Then you can learn to develop new patterns, thus manifesting new experiences that are a closer match to what you really desire. Begin with the smaller issues in your life and in time you will also be able to handle the "biggies."

Each moment need not be a repeat of the past, but instead can be and is a moment of new creation, of new beginnings, of incredible richness and potential. So, learn to listen to your feelings; they will definitely give you very reliable feedback on what you are thinking and therefore creating.

This is the art of self-mastery - the art of mastering life. What so few people realize is that we are capable of choosing the thoughts we think, and, therefore, attracting experiences that make life “good.” Though we may believe, at times, that our thoughts "think" us, they do not. We can and do choose our thoughts.

You have the power and ability to create a whole, new life for yourself-- a life of joy, freedom, peace and more. Just claim it!!!

Know that peace of mind is just a thought away; it is a choice you can make in any moment. And so too, are beauty, love, happiness, joy, power, wisdom, all just a thought away! Be patient and loving with yourself and in time you will succeed.

As Michelangelo said about the beauty of his statue David:
"He was there all the time; he just had to be freed".

Author's Bio
I have been teaching Meditation, Intuitive Development, Healing and metaphysical subjects for the past twenty years. As well, I have been doing intuitive counseling for the past fifteen years.

The primary focus of all my work is to help people experience the “still, small voice within” or as I call it: “the Embrace.” For it is here where I believe that all true healing originates.

About twenty years ago I was blessed with an experience of profound "Embrace" while in meditation which radically changed my life; since then it was crystal clear to me that I not only wanted to deepen that experience for myself, but also wanted, even more, to help others find it for themselves. This is why I offer counseling sessions and it is why have taught and developed numerous programs in Intuitive Development, Meditation, and Self-Mastery.
 
source site: www.selfgrowth.com

 
 
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