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Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior

de Leonard Mlodinow

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8302022,553 (3.74)10
The best-selling author of The Drunkard's Walk and coauthor of The Grand Design (with Stephen Hawking), gives us an examination of how the unconscious mind shapes our experience of the world and how, for instance, we often misperceive our relationships with family, friends, and business associates, misunderstand the reasons for our investment decisions, and misremember important events. Your preference in politicians, the amount you tip your waiter, all judgments and perceptions reflect the workings of our mind on two levels: the conscious, of which we are aware, and the unconscious, which is hidden from us. The latter has long been the subject of speculation, but over the past two decades researchers have developed remarkable new tools for probing the hidden, or subliminal, workings of the mind. The result of this explosion of research is a new science of the unconscious and a sea change in our understanding of how the subliminal mind affects the way we live. Employing accessible explanations of the most obscure scientific subjects, the author takes us on a tour of this research, unraveling the complexities of the subliminal self and increasing our understanding of how the human mind works and how we interact with friends, strangers, spouses, and coworkers. In the process he changes our view of ourselves and the world around us.… (més)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 19 (següent | mostra-les totes)
not as readable as malcolm gladwell, but a lot of the same studies are in here. Recommended for those who enjoy interesting psych studies. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
A really enjoyable book, basically an exploration of system 1 processes with a heavier emphasis on neuroscience and decision-making experiments. I liked this book better than Drunkard's Walk, and I learned interesting material that isn't just a rehash of the trifecta of Misbehaving, Thinking Fast and Slow, and Predictably Irrational. I'm really impressed by the breadth of experiments that Mlodinow covers, from early forays into barely perceptible weights to the latest work on branding and fMRI (the famous "solution" to the pepsi puzzle). I appreciate that his chapters have their own themes and he uses many experiments to show the different facets of the theme rather than the other way around.

Generally the book is a good blend of history (of the study of the unconscious), short but revealing descriptions about experiments, historical examples (one that remains salient in my mind is Thatcher's conscious deepening of her voice to project authority), and personal examples that are both touching and memorable (one in which he recounts how his father's eye contact with a holocaust death camp guard saved his life, and one where his father optimistically teaches his mother sewing so she could work a job his father snoozed her into). The earlier material is the most interesting and fresh to me. In particular, I was blown away by the experiments demonstrating blindsight, and how our brains fill in gaps in sound, sight and memory (suggestions can create memories for example) automatically with guesses that do not feel like guesses to our conscious mind. I was really interested in particular about unconscious body language that we demonstrate (the ratio of eye contact while talking to eye contact while listening strongly correlates positively to higher positions of the speaker in the social hierarchy) and the ability for our minds to read that language also unconsciously (perhaps a vindication of "gut" feelings). A fascinating fact I learned from the social chapters (my personal favorite) were that lonely people die younger (very applicable), in times of distress we tend to seek company, the neo-cortex to brain ratio correlates to size of social groups (for humans roughly 150) for different species, and social rejection activates the same part of the brain that experiences physical pain. The later chapters had material that I was more aware of, so I found it generally less interesting. This included the implicit bias test, misattribution of our emotions, confirmation bias, and in/out group dynamics. However, there were some really fascinating in/out group experiments showing that it was really easy to create in/out groups but also easy to ease the line when people are forced to work together. One experiment that blew me away experimentally demonstrated that when given the chance, people choose to maximize the difference between in and out group payoffs, even at the expense of giving an in group member more payoff.

Mlodinow demonstrates how many "classical" conceptions of the human mind are wrong. That we do not recall memories from a record, but actively reconstruct memories based off of a general gist. That we are not scientists allowing evidence to accumulate to form a conclusion but lawyers who find a conclusion first and then bend evidence to fit our stories. Or that discrimination is always a conscious choice rather than an automatic categorization mechanism of the mind. More broadly, that our decisions and judgments are affected by all types of seemingly unrelated phenomena (more likely generally to get a date if touching the other person, deeper voices in males are more attractive to women). While this has many costs, Mlodinov argues that many of these make sense evolutionarily. While we are taking many signals through our senses, our conscious mind cannot process all of them. Other characteristics of the mind have a more direct impact on our early survival such as the ability to categorize, form social groups, read body language and confidence bias (encouraging people to strive and reach for the unlikely). While I am personally pursued by this line of thought. I have two general critiques of this kind of argument. One is possibility that the classical view is a contrived construction to act as a foil. This is a classic argumentative technique that might not be based on fact. The second critique is that evolutionary psychology, while convincing narratives are essentially unfalsifiable, since the story can always be changed to explain why x characteristic contributed to the survival of the species. Regardless, a fun and enjoyable book that is broad and communicates its ideas in a clear and entertaining way. ( )
  vhl219 | Jun 1, 2019 |
Good coverage of the topic for the layman. It is written with interesting stories that make it readable. I found the last 2 chapters less readable than the rest due to the number of studies presented which seemed hard for me to follow. It began to seem repetitive to me. It's possible that my problem was the nature of the topics which were feelings and self. Those topics might have been a bit less tangible for me.

All in all it was a very good read for this type of book and had a lot of information and examples that were helpful. I'm glad I read it. ( )
  ajlewis2 | Jul 11, 2018 |
So fascinating. Though I am writing this review about oh, four months after I have read it so I have forgotten all the specific things, I think. But I still remember that my brain is an illogical , delusional thing. ( )
  Joanna.Oyzon | Apr 17, 2018 |
Written in a pleasing conversational style, Leaonard Mlodinow’s Subliminal is not a book of lectures or a science text, but it is an intriguing and enticing introduction to the advantages and disadvantages of our human makeup, conscious and subconscious selves alike. The author presents enough historical information to orient the reader between Freud and the present day, often surprising with his description of how much has changed in the last fifty years. Where once we imagined ourselves in control of our thoughts and decisions (especially voting preferences, though Freud allowed us little control at all), now we’re presented with experiments which show that control manipulated in the simplest (scariest) ways. Which, of course, could leave readers imagining a hopeless world where only those with power and money to manipulate can succeed. But there’s more to it than that, and our weaknesses can also be our strengths.

As an aspiring (dreaming) author, I found the section on how we delude ourselves, overvaluing our own skills and undervaluing others’, quite depressing. But it’s followed at once with the story of persistence rewarded—our very self-delusion keeps us going. So I’ll persist, but perhaps with a bit more knowledge than before. Even if my cynical conscious self denied the value of some of the experiments , I still really enjoyed the book and couldn’t stop talking about it. However, please don’t force me to choose which jam I prefer, because I can promise I’ll change my mind in an eyeblink.

Disclosure: I didn’t see the subliminal messages on the cover. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have bought it. But it was next to a book on a similar topic on the bookshelf, so I bought them both. ( )
  SheilaDeeth | Feb 22, 2018 |
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The best-selling author of The Drunkard's Walk and coauthor of The Grand Design (with Stephen Hawking), gives us an examination of how the unconscious mind shapes our experience of the world and how, for instance, we often misperceive our relationships with family, friends, and business associates, misunderstand the reasons for our investment decisions, and misremember important events. Your preference in politicians, the amount you tip your waiter, all judgments and perceptions reflect the workings of our mind on two levels: the conscious, of which we are aware, and the unconscious, which is hidden from us. The latter has long been the subject of speculation, but over the past two decades researchers have developed remarkable new tools for probing the hidden, or subliminal, workings of the mind. The result of this explosion of research is a new science of the unconscious and a sea change in our understanding of how the subliminal mind affects the way we live. Employing accessible explanations of the most obscure scientific subjects, the author takes us on a tour of this research, unraveling the complexities of the subliminal self and increasing our understanding of how the human mind works and how we interact with friends, strangers, spouses, and coworkers. In the process he changes our view of ourselves and the world around us.

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