John Bargh: the mind – How the unconscious of us controls

“The unconscious has a strong and often invisible to our behavior, sometimes even to the fearsome way. It’s not just the people we are, but also our future, I and the goals that we will achieve shapes.“

Table of contents

The unconscious is a Autopilot

We can’t even remember actively in our critical coinages of the first years of life. The unconscious mind works like an Autopilot. Studies have shown that even for rational support students ‘ positive about people to talk to, if you hold a Cup of warm coffee in Hand instead of a cold drink. Small children sucking on cultural influences on, without you later and dig so deep that you fall back as an adult even if you reject them consciously.

The evolutionary urge in the modern world

People are equipped, Bargh, with internal drives that have developed in the very early periods of our evolutionary history. The consciousness is not in the centre of our actions, but we would largely operate unconsciously. The strongest evolutionary drive to protect ourselves physically and to survive, embossing our actions as Beliefs and unconscious. So we made our decisions in fraction of seconds. This is useful, because conscious Thinking and Action in extreme situations, the Evolution is too slow would have been. However, this unconscious Thinking and the pitfalls of Action, because it leads to lens misconceptions and stereotypes, Bargh.

Our technical development verläuuft according to Bargh much faster than our evolutionary-biological adaptation: “the fact that our unconscious biases are shaped in a far more dangerous and long-past world, and this are well-adapted to a world in which extreme cold and heat, droughts, and famines, hostile fellow human beings and wild animals, harmful bacteria and poisonous plant life threatened easily.”

Political values and evolutionary goals

Therefore, the need for security was fundamental, and have a powerful influence on our values, norms, and actions in modern life. This makes, for example, in political elections is noticeable. So Roosevelt had to overcome, such as Obama Barack, the fear of societal change. According to Bargh people would be more conservative and opposed to changes, when they feel threatened. It is much easier to turn a liberal into a Conservative than Vice versa. Studies have shown that you could move a liberal to conservative settings, by was fear in him. Conversely, an Experiment led, in the case of the subjects in a game invulnerable were imagined physically, to conservative settings, to the liberal converted.
Historians have found that the Belief that society was changing for the worse, is a constant, in the case of the Greeks, as with the Aztecs. As the world is, objectively speaking, not changing constantly for the worse, could be the reason for these ideas, not an objective. We would consider internal transformations, from Childhood to youth to aging to exterior changes. We are us only at the Moment of the present, about our emotional state in the Clear. Emotions were pulling in our consciousness, and held her. Older memories were associated mostly with strong emotions.

Truth and Emotion

Recent pasts would to distant pasts, and remained in the memory, because you have then drawn our attention, and strong emotions are triggered, with the objectivity that have to do little to nothing. What we thought was truth, is dependent on our emotions, when we are, for example, first angry and then quiet.

Today’s social motives and actions based on unconscious, evolutionary goals, and were in the service. According to Bargh, we should check our gut feeling, therefore, aware of and, if no time is received, at least no big risks for small targets, if our gut feeling.

Evolutionary Fears, the world view

Significantly, the importance of the Unconscious, for example, showed in a study on the evaluation of crime for the last eight years under 1800 US citizens. While Respondents who had to get in this time, children, thought that crime had increased, said those who did not have children, she was sunk. By the babies, the fear for the safety of the child was placed in the center, while the children, this fear is not loose. To protect children from potential dangers, parents need to be vigilant, and this responsibility is transferred to their view of the world, Bargh.

Shopping and emotions

Emotional States in the Unconscious act according to Bargh, what price do we pay for a commodity. We would be an object of more value, if we have it. We’re edging us in front of an object, we would sell it at a lower price than usual, in order to get rid of it. Sad to be ready for the same items to spend more money than people who are not sad. Buy Sad also help to feel better. This is demonstrated by the fact that antidepressants also lead to a moderation in the Buy.


The human memory is not, according to Bargh, only fallible. It can even be of recent experience fool you, for example, by the fact that we heard a name in the hours before often. A study showed that spouses assessed their own Work in the household is far higher than that of the other, for the sole reason that they had no recollection of what the other did while they were out of the house and on their own activities reminded. This was a point of frequent dispute: “I know exactly that I did it last week.”

The past going to a foreign country, we glorify. Almost every Generation of faith, art, music, and work ethic to be as good as before, the children are spoiled, there would be more crime, etc., – Past means Bargh, according to not only individual memory: “It is the past, the early past of our species, our unique past as a small child, we no longer remember, and our recent past, especially in the rear-view mirror of our day.”

The hidden presence

Even in the case of Korsakoff patients, there is an unconscious memory. While you can’t remember consciously what happened in the recent past, your body stores memories of unpleasant stimuli. So, patients with Korsakoff syndrome have the same pattern of – or aversion like people without this disorder, even though they have little or no memory of people and / or objects. The example of the Korsakoff patients show a fundamental mechanism: “While our conscious attention is often absorbed elsewhere, helps us, this unconscious control to decide the process, what we accept and what we reject when we stay and when we go.“

Our classifications would amount to good or bad, strong or weak, active or passive. Most importantly, the assessment in good or bad, then the potency, and the third is the vitality. In the course of Evolution, we should have first to know if something is out there good or bad for us. Would be encountered, for example, the stone age man Ötzi a Stranger, he would first need to assess whether he was good (friend) or evil (an enemy), then how much, and ultimately how fast and healthy it was. The elementary mechanisms, to approach the case for “good” and “bad” retreating, had all the animals. And they also apply to the people: “Each of us still bears the relics of the entire evolutionary history of our species.”

Effect of mere contact

The more often we came across something, the more positive we find it, writes Bargh, and it also explains the sense in it. The more often we do not see things that harm us, the more secure the points for us with no risk. Disturbs but little the known procedure, this effect immediately.


Ironically, lead the idea of a people, to act rationally, that the unconscious may even have a stronger effect. We accept, however, to have no truly free will, we could control our actions in reality, however, is better. So we could use our unconscious forces productive, by, for example, alter our environment.

Change to the environment

The best way to change the behavior, would be to change the environment. If a person wants to acquire good habits and bad, then he should remove the stimuli and opportunities which supported the bad habits from its environment. Effective self-control your were shopping the unhealthy Snacks, and if you want to reduce the alcohol, you would not fill up the bar. People with good self-control could not stand temptations in the narrow sense better than others, but would expose them less. Real self-control is with the use of less strength and effort of will connected when you Perform the desired actions.

Self-control means: In advance to do

People with good self-control would get her life in advance. Because you were unconscious means, in order to regulate itself and would make “necessary Evil”, such as sports, healthy diet or studying to become an everyday part of life – conscious self-control was, however, too exhausting and too unreliable, and prone to rationalization (“a piece of cake per day won’t hurt you”) and excuses (“I’ve had a hard day and needs to relax after work”).

Habituation is to the Unconscious

The use of external stimuli to control unwanted impulses and undesired behaviour is a powerful Instrument, which could result in significant changes in the way of life. Once a desired behavior is practiced, it’ll to the new habit and new Routine. The first weeks are the hardest, then the Whole routine over. Bargh cited the athlete Dr. George Sheehan: “The body wants to do the same as yesterday. If you are a go last night, he wants to run today. If not, he does not want it.“

The Setting determine our behavior, by far the most. In the Church, we were quiet at dinner, out of the house talkative, at the football game loud and boisterous. The fast food we would order food at the counter, in a fancy Restaurant, we wait to be led to a table.

We can the unconscious use

The psychologist concludes: “By tuning the strings of our spirit, with our intentions, we can improve our health, our peace of mind, our career and our relationships.” (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Autism behaviors show unique brain network fingerprints in infants

A new study has identified unique functional brain networks associated with characteristic behaviors of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 12- and 24-month old children at risk for developing ASD. The study is published in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.

The findings help pinpoint brain regions involved in particular aspects of ASD and provide clues as to how the characteristic behaviors — known as restricted and repetitive behaviors — develop in the brain from an early age.

“This study is the first to investigate which patterns of brain functional connectivity underlie the emergence of these behaviors in infancy,” said co-first author Claire McKinnon, a lab technician in the laboratory of John Pruett, MD, PhD, Washington University School of Medicine, a lead researcher of the study.

Although the behaviors assessed in the study are important for typical development during infancy, increased prevalence of the behaviors at 12 months old is one of the earliest signs that an infant might later develop ASD. Few studies have managed to examine what is happening in the brain at this time because of the difficulty of using brain imaging techniques — such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) — with infants and toddlers. The new study provides an important window into the brain during this critical time when brain circuits and ASD behaviors are developing.

“The study contributes to the growing body of evidence that changes in brain function, that can be measured in infants and young children using resting state fMRI, can reflect emerging differences in cognition and behavior that are associated with the autism spectrum and seen in children at increased risk for the disorder,” said Cameron Carter, MD, Editor of Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.

“Functional connectivity correlates of repetitive behaviors observable in infancy could be candidates for biomarkers that predict features of ASD before a clinical diagnosis, which typically is only possible after 24 months,” said Ms. McKinnon. In addition to potential as an early prediction tool, the authors also hope that the results may have use for treatments in ASD. “There is currently a lack of effective interventions targeting repetitive behaviors, and the specific neural correlates identified in this study could also be studied as potential targets for measuring response to future treatments,” said Ms. McKinnon.

The study divided the behaviors into three subcategories — restricted behaviors (e.g., limited interests), stereotyped behaviors (e.g., repetitive movements), and ritualistic/sameness behaviors (e.g., resistance to change). The abnormal functional connections associated with these subcategories involved several brain networks, including the default mode (a network typically most active at rest), visual, attention, and executive control networks. The unique associations between these networks and specific behaviors reinforces the subcategories, whereas overlapping associations indicate that some aspects of the behaviors may share common origins.

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Why modest goals are so appealing: Achieving a small incremental goal is perceived as easier — and more satisfying — than maintaining the status quo

Thanks to a quirk in the way our brain evaluates goals, people feel it’s easier to achieve a small incremental goal than to maintain the status quo, when both goals are assessed in isolation. This is especially true if the context is seen as unfavourable.

This finding, which contrasts with the popular belief that no change is easier than any change, is the fruit of research led by marketing professors from INSEAD, IE Business School and Pamplin College of Business.

“When evaluating goal difficulty, our brain first considers the gap between the starting point and the desired state. Usually, the bigger the gap, the more difficult the goal. However, if there is no gap to speak of, as in the case of a status quo goal, the brain starts scanning the context, anticipating potential reasons for failure,” said study co-author Amitava Chattopadhyay, Professor of Marketing and the GlaxoSmithKline Chaired Professor of Corporate Innovation at INSEAD.

For example, if your goal is to keep the same weight this year, you may start considering the odds of you regularly eating out due to a high workload, the number of your upcoming business trips, the fact that a new donut shop has opened in your neighbourhood, etc.

“Our assessment of context is peculiar in the sense that it is greatly impacted by a negativity bias,” says Antonios Stamatogiannakis, Assistant Professor of Marketing at IE Business School. Our brain has evolved over the millennia to be more sensitive to bad news than good news. Most of us instinctively give more weight to potential reasons for failure than reasons for success.

When a status quo goal is directly compared to one that involves a modest improvement, objectivity prevails: The absence of a gap makes the status quo goal seems easier, as logic would dictate. Nevertheless, in such a direct comparison scenario, study participants still preferred to pursue a small incremental goal over a “maintenance” goal, as they expected this achievement to be more satisfying.

These results are described in “Attainment versus Maintenance Goals: Perceived Difficulty and Impact on Goal Choice,” a paper co-authored by Chattopadhyay, Stamatogiannakis and Dipankar Chakravarti, Professor of Marketing at Pamplin College of Business. Their paper was published in the November 2018 issue of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

A two-step process

Across six studies, Chattopadhyay and his study co-authors showed that the brain assesses goal difficulty using a two-step process. First comes the size of the gap to be bridged. But if that gap is zero, the brain defaults to the second step, which is the context in which the goal is to be achieved. Context assessment usually triggers negativity bias, which is why, when judged in isolation, a maintenance goal is deemed more difficult than one involving a small increment.

In the first studies, participants were split into groups that each evaluated the difficulty of a particular goal type. While the difficulty of the goal was generally correlated to the gap size, goals that involved a modest increment were rated as easier than those involving the status quo (rated separately). When asked to explain their ratings, participants evaluating status quo goals were quick to mention all the obstacles that could crop up. In later studies, participants were more interested in pursuing a modest-attainment goal than to maintain the status quo, even when real money was in play.


Managers setting goals such as sales quotas should be aware that status quo goals are less attractive than ones involving a slight increment. This may be especially true if the economy is in a downturn, as a status quo goal will precisely draw the staff’s attention to the negative context and have a demoralising effect.

“Marketing-wise, promotions requiring consumers to achieve modest attainment goals, such as a small increase in a customer’s account balance in the case of a bank, may prove more popular than promotions involving no such goal,” says Chattopadhyay.

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