Re: Unconscious Processes Vs. Unconscious Mind

From: HARNAD Stevan (
Date: Tue Jun 04 1996 - 10:01:45 BST

> From: "Cooke, Alex" <>
> Date: Thu, 23 May 1996 18:16:37 GMT
> The best evidence for unconscious perception is the difference in
> conscious and unconscious perceptual processes. Firstly, experiments to
> show Affective Reactions can be done, where the affective reactions are
> most likely to be influenced by unconscious perception stimuli than
> conscious perception stimuli.
> For example, if we were to take arbitrary
> symbols, for example Chinese characters, and show them to two sample
> groups, and then follow each of these symbols with a face depicting
> either happiness (smiling), or sadness (crying); however the first
> group will only be shown the face for a very short time, i.e. a
> microsecond, so that they will only perceive the face unconsciously,

Does a short exposure guarantee that the stimulus will be perceived, and
perceived unconsciously?

> but to the second group, show the faces for much longer, i.e. a second,
> so that they can consciously perceive the face. Then when shown the
> arbitrary symbols again and asked whether they thought the symbol
> represented good or bad, those who had unconsciously perceived the
> faces, rated the symbols followed by happy faces as good, and sad faces
> as bad, while those who consciously perceived the faces randomly rated
> them.

This kind of experiment is called a "priming" experiment. But it is not
enough just to describe the outcome. You have to way what it shows about
unconscious perception, and why, and relate it to the course theme of
unconscious processes and unconscious mind.

> Another experiment that shows evidence for unconscious perception
> would be to show that unconsciously perceived words are coded
> differently to consciously perceived words. This can be done by showing
> a target word to one sample so that it is unconsciously perceived (as
> above), and to a second sample so that it is consciously perceived. The
> whole sample is then shown a matrix containing 24 words, but not the
> target word, and asked to identify the target word. The matrix does
> however contain a structurally similar word and a semantically similar
> word. Those who unconsciously perceived the word chose the semantically
> similar word, while those who had consciously perceived the word chose
> the structurally similar word.

But what was the reasoning behind the inference that one group had
perceived it unconsciously and the other not? It is not enough to state
findings; they must be explained, and related cleraly to the underlying

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