External Influences on Our Subconscious Mind    

External Influences on Our Subconscious Mind

Well, it is again one of those times we talk about mind control other than hypnotic language. This time around, we revisit the burning and fiercely debated issue of the subconscious mind. The effect of mind control has been intensely examined and here, new research indicates that our subconscious mind makes our decision for us.

In same way we have extensively looked at the mind control mechanism, as proclaimed by Dr. William Horton, in his online blogs and articles at Live Free Program ; as well as in his book, The Alcohol and Addiction Solution, And the new,  Secret Psuchology of Persuasion we have set out to understand how our subconscious mind takes charge and makes our decisions for us.

We first of all, we look at a study published in Neuroscience by Soon et al. (2008) which showed that our brain is “subconsciously aware of our decisions”  even before we even get the chance to make our very own decisions. The study examined the possibility of a potential external control on our decision making process and in turn, analyzed various ways we could know what actually holds true. It aimed to make us understand that in most situations, we’ve already arrived at a decision or answer, even before we know it; and that the most exciting aspect of this, is how unimaginable this would be, if actually, they were true. Think of this as a process where external influences act as a throttle on the pedal of your subconscious mind giving it signals on which direction to take. I guess you should understand better now.

The most exciting thing about these experiments is that there is emerging trend which lends more voice to the earlier thought notion that external triggers can affect the subconscious mind.  Scientifically, complementary studies have been conducted and findings by researchers have shown our gut intuition works in similar way. Voss and Paller (2009) found evidence that suggests the brain “accesses intuition (our gut feeling about something) by tapping into memories/information embedded within our brains at a more subconscious level, rather than at a conscious level”.

This emerging research also points to the notion that the environment is a critical factor that plays a crucial role in shaping our thoughts, decisions, and actions. As will be shown in the subsequent case studies, it has never been realized how incredibly these revelations are and how profound this can begin to shape our new thinking – the environment being a key factor.

Now, let’s take a deeper look at the details of these studies that support our hypothesis. In the by Soon et al., a total of 36 participants were recruited and asked to make a decision about whether they would use their left hand or their right hand to press a lever. Using fMRI scans, the researchers analyzed the brain’s activity in the frontopolar cortex, and knew the participants’ decisions even before they had taken them.  That is, before the participants had taken the decision to use their left or their right hand, the scientists already knew the decision they were about to take.

They reported that this information “was available up to seven seconds before the participant had made a conscious decision”.  The researchers used the information from the scans, to predict with success, all the 36 participant’s decisions before they had consciously made them! Incredible!

In another study conducted at Yale, students were asked to participate and compete in an investment game while sitting alone in a room with either a backpack or a briefcase. At the end of the experiment, the results showed that students in the room with a briefcase were “significantly more greedy and aggressive than those sharing it with a backpack”.

An article published in New York Times stated that this emerging research reveals that the human brain and mind is “active”, though subconscious,” purposeful and independent”. It reiterated that “goals, whether to eat, mate or devour an iced latte, are like neural software programs that can only be run one at a time, and the unconscious is perfectly capable of running the program it chooses”; and that “the mere presence of the briefcase, noticed but not consciously registered, generated business-related associations and expectations”. The authors further stated that this caused the brain to “to run the most appropriate goal program: compete”.

The authors went ahead to note several case studies, one of which, a laboratory assistant had deceptively asked participants to hold a cup of coffee on their way to the laboratory. Without being aware that it was a trap, half of the participants held iced coffee and the other half held coffee that was” piping hot”.

Subsequently, they were asked to read a story and make comments about a fictional character’s personality in the story they had read. The participants that had held the cold beverage for the lab assistant were more likely to assess and rate the fictional character’s personality as “cold, less social and selfish”; while the opposite was the case for participants who had held the hot cup of coffee. That was it! It was all they needed to pass subjective judgment and opinion on a strange fictional character they had read about.

Yet another experiment conducted in 2005, participants were recruited and “exposed to the smell of a citrus cleaning fluid while filling out a questionnaire”. Subsequently, and while still under experimentation, they were duly rewarded for their time by being given crumbly biscuits. They thereafter ate and cleaned up the crumbs from the table. The participants who had earlier been exposed to the citrus smell cleaned “three times as many crumbs from the table as those who had not”.

And yet again, an extensive two year study conducted in 2007 at the University of Minnesota showed that ceiling heights affected individual performance. It found that higher ceilings “stimulated more creative thought patterns”, while lower ceilings encouraged attention and focus. And in another study conducted at Dartmouth College, it was found that showing the name of a lover “increased cognitive performance results on subsequent tasks”.

What these experiments (ceiling heights, lover’s name) suggest is that external stimuli can affect cognitive performance. Whether it’s a briefcase, a cup of coffee, or the height of the ceiling, these external stimuli can have a great effect on our subconscious and decision making process.