John A. Bargh, James Rowland Angell Professor, Department of Psychology, Yale University

The weekly 'Issues in Cognitive Science' series provides an informal setting in which faculty, graduate students and invited speakers present their current research or plans for future research, and discuss recent journal articles of general interest to cognitive scientists. The 'catered brown bag' meetings take place every other Wednesday, 12-1:30pm, Sage 4101. Many of these presentations may be viewed in our video archiveGeneral information for speakers

John A. Bargh, James Rowland Angell Professor, Department of Psychology, Yale University

Sage 4101

May 2, 2018 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

While our conscious awareness is focused primarily on the present, our mind exists simultaneously in all three ‘time zones’: past, present, and future. Unconscious influences of the past include fundamental evolved motivations as for physical safety and disease avoidance, and also effects of our personal early life experiences of which we now have no explicit memory.  Unconscious influences of the present include natural imitation of others and contagion of emotions and behavior, including over social media, and also contextual effects on our personality and values – which can cause us to be a different person at work versus at home.  Unconscious influences of the future are driven by the powerful influence of our currently active goals on what we like and dislike, what we consider risky versus safe.  These goals often continue to operate in the background when we’ve moved on to other things.  One underlying message from this broad array of findings is that even when we are not aware of their influence at the time, we nonetheless ‘own’ their effects on our choices and behaviors, because they spring from the same mind we use consciously and intentionally.  Another is that we become cognizant of these unconscious mechanisms, it is easy to make practical use of them in our daily lives.


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