Archive for February 5th, 2016

February 5, 2016

Adaptive Unconscious

Miyagi Wax by rubyred

lizard brain by  Deanna Halsall

In cognitive psychology the adaptive unconscious is thought to be a set of mental processes that influence judgment and decision making in a way that is inaccessible to introspective awareness, and thus linked to the unconscious mind. It is different from conscious processing: it is faster, effortless, more focused on the present, but less flexible. In other theories of the mind, the unconscious is limited to ‘low-level’ activity, such as carrying out goals which have been decided consciously. In contrast, the adaptive unconscious is thought to be involved in ‘high-level’ cognition such as goal-setting as well.

The term ‘adaptive unconscious’ suggests it has survival value and hence is an adaptation which was strongly selected in the past. Indeed, for much of vertebrate evolution, all mental activity was unconscious. No-one supposes that fish have consciousness. Thus our consciousness is added to an already-existing set of mechanisms which operate but whose operation is normally not felt by us.

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