Consciousness in Psychology: Awareness basically refers to your individual awareness of your exclusive thoughts, memories, sensations, feelings, and environment. Your conscious experiences are constantly changing and changing. For example, in one moment you can concentrate on reading an article. Your consciousness can then shift to the memory of a conversation you had earlier with a co-worker. Next, you may notice how uncomfortable your chair is, or perhaps mentally schedule a dinner. This ever-changing stream of thoughts can change dramatically from one moment to the next, but your experience of it seems smooth and effortless.
Not the whole thing we do, reason, and perceive is essentially conscious. We might be unaware of stimuli that change our perceptions and judgments or unable to come up with the right word in a sentence although we know that we know the right word.
The Consciousness of Mental Processes
The Consciousness in Psychology of Mental Processes: No serious investigators of cognition considers that people have conscious contact with very simple mental processes. For example, nobody from us has a good idea of the means by which we recognize whether a printed letter such as A is an uppercase or lowercase one. But now consider more complex processing. How conscious are we of our composite mental processes? Cognitive psychologists have differing opinions on how this question is best answered.
- One view is that people have pretty good access to their complex mental processes. Simon and his colleagues, for example, have used protocol analysis in analyzing people’s solving of problems, such as chess problems and so-called cryptarithmetic problems, in which one has to figure out what numbers substitute for letters in a mathematical computation problem. These investigations have recommended to Simon and his colleagues that people have pretty good conscious in psychology access to their complex information processes.
- Another view is that people’s access to their complex mental processes is not very good. In this view, people might think they know how they solve complex problems, but their thoughts are often erroneous.
According to Nisbett and Wilson, we typically are conscious of the products of our thinking, but only unclearly conscious, if at all, of the processes of thinking. Let’s take an example, suppose you choose to buy one model of the bicycle over another. You certainly will know the product of the decision which model you bought. But you may have only a vague idea of how you arrived at that decision.
Definitely, according to this view, you may believe you know why you made the decision, but that belief is likely to be imperfect. Advertisers usually depend on this second view. They try to manipulate your thoughts and feelings toward a product so that, whatever your conscious thoughts might be, your unconscious ones will lead you to buy their product over that of a contestant.
The Principle of Consciousness
The principle of the second view is that people’s conscious access to their thought processes, and even their control over their thought processes, is quite minimal. Consider the problem of getting over someone who has finished an intimate relationship with you. One procedure that is sometimes used to get over someone is thought suppression.
As soon as you think of the person, you try to put the individual out of your mind. There is one problem with this technique, but it is a major one: It sometimes does not work. Definitely, the more you try not to think about the person, the more you might end up thinking about him or her and having trouble getting the person off your mind. Research has really shown that trying not to think about something typically does not work.