We would like to think we are in control of all our actions. Bargh shows that our past, present and future deeply influence our behavior, our choices, and our likes and dislikes, “before we know it.” (Loc 4555/7037) Our experiences influence us. Those with whom we are interacting elicit a mirroring behavior from us. Our goals, dreams, and needs color what we like, what we pay attention to, even what we buy. There is much more going on in our unconscious than we realized.
I learned a great deal form this book. I have always been fascinated with the complexities of why we do what we do. This book explained much. Bargh takes us through many studies but does it in a readable and understandable way. I liked his historical review, taking us through behaviorism, then cognitive psychology, and then the new studies that show we are born with unconscious mental abilities. I now know there is a constant play of the conscious and unconscious as I live my life. I learned about how I got my opinions, some from infancy and others from culture.
Bargh encourages readers in the end. We can use these unconscious processes to our advantage. He sort of tosses will power on its head, showing how we can do things better utilizing our automatic and habitual behavior. “As we learn more about the unconscious influences on our mind, we can use that knowledge to make positive differences in our lives.” (Loc 1898/7037)
My rating: 4/5 stars.
John Bargh has written many articles but this is his first book. He has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a graduate degree in social psychology. He is now a professor of psychology at Yale.
Touchstone, 352 pages.