John Bargh, PhD, is a researcher — perhaps the top researcher — into the unconscious mind. Bargh and his team have conducted extensive tests to find out why we make the decisions we do, and it turns out that our unconscious mind is sitting behind the driver’s wheel more often than you probably think. Our brains have two modes: our slower, more deliberate, analytical mode, and the faster, more intuitive one. The slower, more deliberate mode takes more energy, and so our brain doesn’t like to use it very often. Your brain prefers to make quick decisions, which you then justify rationally to yourself afterwards.
Throughout his interesting and insightful book, Bargh illustrates how our unconscious mind is active behind the scenes. For example, the weather can play a meaningful role in purchasing decisions, as can ambient music. Being reminded about your ethnicity or gender can affect how well you do on standardized testing. These unconscious responses play a huge role in our life, and marketers (and political campaigns!) leverage this to their advantage, sometimes to our detriment. Fortunately, Bargh provides us with ways to take charge of our unconscious mind, though it does take time and effort and isn’t 100% foolproof. But that’s better than blindly believing everything your intuitive brain tells you, don’t you think?