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How do automatic thoughts and behaviours guide our actions?
- They occur outside of our awareness and control, occur unintentionally and are efficient in their use of attentional resources
- These thoughts do not entirely control our cognitions and behaviour, they are an interaction between these and conscious thoughts
- I.e swerving automatically to avoid a car that appears when navigating your way around town
What is preconscious automaticity?
- The process in which sensory or perceptual stimuli effortlessly trigger the mental or physiological processes that shape subsequent interpretations or categorisation of events
- This was demonstrated by Hansen & Hansen (1988) who showed participants faces in crowds and asked them to spot the one doing a different facial expression
- People were significantly better at spotting angry faces than neutral ones
What is post conscious automaticity?
- The conscious attention paid to stimuli that alters subsequent thoughts and behaviour
- P's given a free gift in a shopping mall setting
- This improved their mood and the evaluation of performance and service record of products they owned (Isen et al, 1978)
What is goal dependent automaticity?
- Accessibility of concepts depends on processing goals
- The state we are in and our desires influence our ability to process things
- P's shown words on a screen and asked to answer 'me' or 'not me' if they word applied to them or not
- People rated as more positive had more positive concepts become active than those who were depressed (they had negative ones)
What is embodiment?
- The assumption that all thoughts and feeling are grounded in sensory experiences and bodily states
- Mental processes involve simulations of body related perceptions
- Could be because we are evolved from animals that devoted all resources to perception and motor skills so higher cognitive functions could still use systems employed by our ancestors
- Holding heavy objects made job candidates appear more important, rough things made social interactions seem more difficult and hard objects reduced negotiation flexibility (Ackerman et al, 2010)
- Scores of loneliness correlated with taking more hot baths and showers and physical coldness increased ratings of loneliness (Bargh & Shalev, 2011)
What is non-conscious emotion regulation?
- The unintentional and automatic control of one's exposure to, processing of and response to emotionally evocative events (Bargh & Williams, 2007)
- P's primed with either neutral or reappraisal goal concepts using a scrambled sentence task (words related to reappraisal appeared such as 'reassessed')
- Found that instructing participants to reappraise a stressful task as a challenge was as effective as priming them with the concepts of 'transformation and change'
- Shows that non-conscious prompts to reappraise one's emotional situation can reduce reactivity to emotionally evocative events
What is unconscious thought theory?
- Dijksterhuis & Nordgren, 2006
- Unconscious deliberation of evolutionarily relevant decisions (such as morality) appears to be more effective than conscious thought
- P's asked to make decisions based on simple principles such as fairness and were either distracted or left to ruminate
- Those in the distracted condition made better decisions
What are the factors that moderate the influence of situational cues on thought and behaviour?
- Some people are more self conscious than others
- Ones preparation to interact (Cesario et al, 2009): people primed with anti gay sentiment showed more signs of aggression and those primed with pro elderly themes walked more slowly and acted like them
- The salience of the prime, something more relevant to everyday life and survival advantage would be more likely to unconsciously prime behaviour
- Competing goals
- Being aware of the prime drastically reduces its effectiveness
- Environmental constraints (physically can't act a certain way)
How does conscious causation affect everyday life?
- Baumeister, Mascicampo, & Vohs, 2011
- When people consciously imagine future actions they are more likely to carry them out
- Mentally practicing difficult actions improves performance
- Making specific plans improves likelihood and efficacy of behaviour
- Reinterpreting events influences how one responds to them
- Taking others’ perspective and empathising
- Altering views of the self can alter subsequent behaviour
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