The Psychology of Blink: Understanding How Our Minds Work

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Uh0NcpzSBM

Description: Recent psychological research has revealed widely held unconscious thought patterns that most people would rather not possess. Dr. Anthony Greenwald, psychology professor at the University of Washington, describes his research developing the method (described in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink) that reveals this unconscious mental content, demonstrates the method and describes how the unconscious mental content that it reveals affects our behavior.
There is also a discussion of implicit association and where you can take the test.
 

Buddy

The Living Force
I like the coinage "level 2" to refer to unconscious cognition, AKA implicit social cognition to refer to that cognition formerly attributed to the Freudian the unconscious.

Although, during the post-lecture Q and A session, Greenwald admits the concepts aren't new, I think one point that questioner missed is that the IAT format shapes the info into a practical psychological tool.

Nice to see psychology moving away from old static concepts and practices.
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
The professor's statement that implicit associations regarding biases changed only a little even after his becoming aware of the bias and taking the tests repeatedly was quite revealing. I tried a couple of tests myself regarding certain biases that I knew would likely be there because of the general environment I grew up in. After years of study and consciously "knowing better" about certain subjects, I wanted to see if these associations had gone away. Here is what was revealed in 3 IAT (Implicit Association Test) that I took from the harvard site _http://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/.

* Positive or negative association with familiarity/similarity : SLIGHT positive association with familiarity/similarity

This is not too surprising in a general sense as we are biologically conditioned to treat the familiar as good and secure.

* Test on gay/straight preference: SLIGHT preference of straight over gay

I guessed I would have this result before taking the test based on what the professor stated in the linked video. I would have "liked" to come out with a NEUTRAL result - which is what my conscious attitude.

* Religion test : This was an interesting one. Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism were included as categories and these were combined in groups of two with good and bad words being associated with each.

My result was that on a sliding scale from "more positive" to "more negative", all the 4 were clustered as a group towards the middle or neutral area. This was in keeping with the secular outlook that I was exposed to inside my family when growing up. Within the 4, my results indicated a slightly higher positive correlation with Buddhism, Christianity and Judaism coming below it and Islam at the bottom. Here again, the Buddhism association did not surprise me - despite my beef with that religion, I appreciate a portion of its teachings and especially its emphasis on rational discourse. As for the rest, I would have "liked" to have the rest of the three grouped together. (I treat Paleochristianity as quite different from mainstream Christianity). Yet, it seems that the bias that is the larger social legacy that I have been a part of, characterized by the history of aggression and hostility between Islam and other religions, still left an impact on the results.

I guess it is important to identify the implicit biases, so that in real life we can remind ourselves to be extra careful and subject our attitudes to more rigorous analysis, engaging system2 independently to overcome the automatic associations proceeding from system1.
 

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Amen! (Not to excite a bias here!) This lecture was really revealing; it tells us exactly what we are up against in The Work and can help by revealing areas where we need to pay closer attention.
 

Vic

Jedi Council Member
I watched the lecture earlier this evening. Very interesting. I think Greenwald said that by repeating the IAT many, many times he had seen a little progress in terms of becoming aware of biases. Do you think that if we become more aware of biases, even though we cannot, by definition, be aware of second level thinking as it happens, we can in some way use Gurdjieff's 'stop' method to 'interrupt' the process?

I don't know. I suppose we would have to be in permanent 'stop' mode to do that. I can't pinpoint exactly what I am getting at here. Greenwald seems quite adamant that we can't affect unconscious thinking, but that can't be right.

The illusions themselves were also interesting- and enlightening, in terms of how fourth density STS control us through illusion. If we can fall for a simple card trick how much more can we be duped when at the mercy of higher density technology? Especially when they set the context.
 

luke wilson

The Living Force
- Moderate preference for male with science against female with liberal arts
- Little to no automatic preference between White people and Black people.
-Slight automatic preference for Light Skinned People compared to Dark Skinned People.
-Strong automatic preference for Straight People compared to Gay People.
-Slight automatic preference for Young compared to Old.
-Your implicit data suggest that you strongly identify more with GOOD than BAD.
-Your implicit data suggest that you moderately identify more with HAPPY than SAD.
-Regarding religion I think less of hinduism, more of judaism, the most of Christianity and islam which are both level.

Well the only thing that surprised me most were the sexuality preference and that I think of myself as happy and good.

I do think it isn't out of place to associate male with science and female with liberal arts. Females are creative males are more logical in general is how I implicitly think. I am not surprised about the light skin preference as it is awash in media and wider society. Maybe in a different milieu it could be different. Oh yes to being in the middle ground on the whole white/black preference.

I also so caught him out with the card trick - I was like wait a second, lets go back and choose a different card, then voila figured he had changed them all. The grey one was brutal to watch, I still don't believe it. I'd like to see an example in real life as opposed behind a computer program where tech wizardry can come into play. All I am saying is that grey didn't look grey.
 

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
luke wilson said:
The grey one was brutal to watch, I still don't believe it. I'd like to see an example in real life as opposed behind a computer program where tech wizardry can come into play. All I am saying is that grey didn't look grey.
I am actually able to see the two grays as the same but it is not automatic; I have to tell myself and hold the two together in my mind while looking at them with my eyes.

Here, we have actually printed that image out, numbered the squares, looked at them and then cut them apart physically and trust me, the two are the same.
 

Psalehesost

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The Strawman said:
I watched the lecture earlier this evening. Very interesting. I think Greenwald said that by repeating the IAT many, many times he had seen a little progress in terms of becoming aware of biases. Do you think that if we become more aware of biases, even though we cannot, by definition, be aware of second level thinking as it happens, we can in some way use Gurdjieff's 'stop' method to 'interrupt' the process?

I don't know. I suppose we would have to be in permanent 'stop' mode to do that. I can't pinpoint exactly what I am getting at here. Greenwald seems quite adamant that we can't affect unconscious thinking, but that can't be right.
It's a question of System 1 and System 2. His level 1 is System 2 and his level 2 is System 1. His point was that we can't simply change System 1 to get rid of these biases. But we can consciously override them in decision-making by engaging System 2 - i.e. by engaging in directed, purposeful, analytical thinking, which is slower and more effortful. So, we'll be carrying around these biases, and whenever we don't think carefully and scrutinize our intuitive judgment or "feel", we'll be influenced by them.


On another note, there was some prior discussion of these biases, mainly in the context of racism, in the "Internal Racism" thread from here and on.
 

Anthony

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The Strawman said:
I watched the lecture earlier this evening. Very interesting. I think Greenwald said that by repeating the IAT many, many times he had seen a little progress in terms of becoming aware of biases. Do you think that if we become more aware of biases, even though we cannot, by definition, be aware of second level thinking as it happens, we can in some way use Gurdjieff's 'stop' method to 'interrupt' the process?

I don't know. I suppose we would have to be in permanent 'stop' mode to do that. I can't pinpoint exactly what I am getting at here. Greenwald seems quite adamant that we can't affect unconscious thinking, but that can't be right.

The illusions themselves were also interesting- and enlightening, in terms of how fourth density STS control us through illusion. If we can fall for a simple card trick how much more can we be duped when at the mercy of higher density technology? Especially when they set the context.
I think being too watchful of your own biases can itself become a problem, since we
know it requires great effort and energy, it can leave gaps in your defense. So let's say you
pay too much attention in one area that is not that important, it can make you susceptible in
another, where the error can be much more drastic for you.

What is required is to know yourself and your weaknesses, where you are susceptible
and were cognitive errors can lead to disaster in your life. Nobody can decide this for
you, since it's relative to your life situation.

On another note, I've found out about another author that can be of interest
to us, Robert Kurzban, he explains the many I's, and why we can hold two contradictory
beliefs at the same time and not be aware of it.

Leading evolutionary psychologist Robert Kurzban visits the RSA to argue that there is no "I" but that instead each of us is a contentious "we".
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWHlvFiv70Q
 

Vic

Jedi Council Member
Psalehesost said:
It's a question of System 1 and System 2. His level 1 is System 2 and his level 2 is System 1. His point was that we can't simply change System 1 to get rid of these biases. But we can consciously override them in decision-making by engaging System 2 - i.e. by engaging in directed, purposeful, analytical thinking, which is slower and more effortful. So, we'll be carrying around these biases, and whenever we don't think carefully and scrutinize our intuitive judgment or "feel", we'll be influenced by them.
That makes sense, Psalehesost. So, knowing our biases we think before we act/speak. I'm sure I heard, in different words, similar advice during my early years - engage your brain before opening your mouth, look before you leap, act in haste repent at leisure, and many others. They knew it all then. But of course today's technology, and researchers like Greenwald, shed more light on the mechanics of it all, and hopefully help us to gain some control over it.

Anthony said:
I think being too watchful of your own biases can itself become a problem, since we
know it requires great effort and energy, it can leave gaps in your defense. So let's say you
pay too much attention in one area that is not that important, it can make you susceptible in
another, where the error can be much more drastic for you.

What is required is to know yourself and your weaknesses, where you are susceptible
and were cognitive errors can lead to disaster in your life. Nobody can decide this for
you, since it's relative to your life situation.
This also makes sense to me, Anthony. But don't we need to take risks - based on knowledge of course - in order to advance. I am wondering if your approach conflicts with Psalehesost's. It's all a matter of degree I suppose. But in the end it's an individual choice as to the degree.

Anthony said:
On another note, I've found out about another author that can be of interest
to us, Robert Kurzban, he explains the many I's, and why we can hold two contradictory
beliefs at the same time and not be aware of it.

Leading evolutionary psychologist Robert Kurzban visits the RSA to argue that there is no "I" but that instead each of us is a contentious "we".
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWHlvFiv70Q
That sounds interesting. I'll take a look.
 

Psalehesost

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The Strawman said:
Anthony said:
I think being too watchful of your own biases can itself become a problem, since we
know it requires great effort and energy, it can leave gaps in your defense. So let's say you
pay too much attention in one area that is not that important, it can make you susceptible in
another, where the error can be much more drastic for you.

What is required is to know yourself and your weaknesses, where you are susceptible
and were cognitive errors can lead to disaster in your life. Nobody can decide this for
you, since it's relative to your life situation.
This also makes sense to me, Anthony. But don't we need to take risks - based on knowledge of course - in order to advance. I am wondering if your approach conflicts with Psalehesost's. It's all a matter of degree I suppose. But in the end it's an individual choice as to the degree.
I think we just need to take into account that willpower (which belongs to System 2) is a limited resource. It can be trained, like muscles can, but now and then it still needs a break. So it won't work to go around trying to be highly engaged all day long. But in general, when we take a decision that affects our lives and/or those of others, and we have time (it's not an immediate emergency), then it's best to think carefully.

It's also of course good to generally question ourselves as part of working on ourselves. But unlike Anthony, I don't think that "nobody can decide [what weaknesses you have, where you are susceptible] for you". In the thread on the adaptive unconscious, and Wilson's book Strangers to Ourselves which the thread discusses, the point is made that we really can't know ourselves. In fact, others are in a better position to know our unconscious selves than we are! (Because they observe our behavior better than we do.) Hence the need for networking.

This brings me to something that perhaps ties into Anthony's first point: Tunnel-vision can easily occur. We can come to insights on our own, but we also easily draw wrong conclusions. This can lead us to focus on something irrelevant - either the wrong thing, or we may focus on the right thing but have the wrong concern about it. Again, here the need to network comes in. (And networking can be not only here but also with people around you in life who observe your behavior. Among such people, we are likely to find persons who know our personality, or major parts of it, better than we ourselves do.)
 

Vic

Jedi Council Member
Psalehesost said:
The Strawman said:
Anthony said:
I think being too watchful of your own biases can itself become a problem, since we
know it requires great effort and energy, it can leave gaps in your defense. So let's say you
pay too much attention in one area that is not that important, it can make you susceptible in
another, where the error can be much more drastic for you.

What is required is to know yourself and your weaknesses, where you are susceptible
and were cognitive errors can lead to disaster in your life. Nobody can decide this for
you, since it's relative to your life situation.
This also makes sense to me, Anthony. But don't we need to take risks - based on knowledge of course - in order to advance. I am wondering if your approach conflicts with Psalehesost's. It's all a matter of degree I suppose. But in the end it's an individual choice as to the degree.
I think we just need to take into account that for you". In the [url=http://cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php/topic,26247.0.html]thread on the adaptive unconscious, and Wilson's book Strangers to Ourselves which the thread discusses, the point is made that we really can't know ourselves. In fact, others are in a better position to know our unconscious selves than we are! (Because they observe our behavior better than we do.) Hence the need for networking.

This brings me to something that perhaps ties into Anthony's first point: Tunnel-vision can easily occur. We can come to insights on our own, but we also easily draw wrong conclusions. This can lead us to focus on something irrelevant - either the wrong thing, or we may focus on the right thing but have the wrong concern about it. Again, here the need to network comes in. (And networking can be not only here but also with people around you in life who observe your behavior. Among such people, we are likely to find persons who know our personality, or major parts of it, better than we ourselves do.)
Brilliant point about tunnel-vision, Psalhesost. I have certainly been down that road in terms of my personality/character - probably still on that road, but of course we can't know we are 'committing' tunnel-vision that is leading us up the garden path (like biases) at the time. And as you say that's where networking comes in.

Most members of a therapy group I was part of years ago refused to highlight issues they saw in fellow members. This was through fear of confrontation and conflict, as though they would be insulting the person concerned, and also fear of hurting their feelings. The truth is, of course, that to have our own issues revealed to us by others, when we are unaware of them, is a gift.

I never did believe that saying 'you know yourself better than others do' - You hit the nail on the head with "...we are likely to find persons who know our personality, or major parts of it, better than we ourselves do..."
 

Windmill knight

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Laura said:
Amen! (Not to excite a bias here!) This lecture was really revealing; it tells us exactly what we are up against in The Work and can help by revealing areas where we need to pay closer attention.
This issue really hit me when I read 'Strangers to Ourselves'. Although I was familiar with the idea of 'man as a machine' I realized on a deeper, visceral level how strong some programs are, how little we can know them, and even if we do, how difficult it is to control them - much less change them. Together with some life experiences and patterns I had been contemplating about myself for a few years, this insight had the result of demolishing the illusion that there was anything 'special', 'superior' or 'magical' about me. How could I, if I had to come to terms with the fact that I was never gong to be 'Program Free', and I could never have a fully objective view of myself? The more I could aspire to do was to learn to recognize as many of those programs as possible, so that when they kicked-in I could make an effort to steer into doing the right thing. Also, self-control and perfection took a secondary position as goals, and objectivity and truthfulness became more important (since they are more realistic to achieve and are preconditions for the others). In other words, it's better to see exactly who you are without embellishment than to pretend you got it all under control.

(When I talk about these programs I don't only mean biases about gender or optic illusions as illustrated in the video, but about any others which are more important because they have effects on others. For example, narcissistic programs. I don't think there is any reason to think these are less difficult to detect or counter, unless you have been fighting them for years.)

Not only my illusions of grandeur took a blow, but also my illusions of 'smallness', if we can call them like that. I couldn't feel euphoric about illusions that made me go 'high' anymore, but I found that I also could not go too low. Never too depressed nor too sad, because somehow getting carried away with those feelings was also a way of having a disproportionate self-image. It is giving too much importance to something which is largely a machine with a little bit of will and consciousness, and it would not be objective to think of myself as equal to nothing. Small as it may be, I have my place in the universe, the DCM decided that I should exist instead of not, and the fact that I can see the programs means that there is at least some consciousness to work with.

Altogether it has been a quite sobering insight and I would say my biggest lesson of the last two or three years.

Now, one question about the video. Greenwald says that he thinks these biases are learned and not genetic. The examples he gives may be, like the correlation between gender and role (career or family). But are all biases really learned? Could it be that some of them are hard-wired, or that there is a genetic predisposition to have stronger tendencies than others? I suspect genetics does take a big role, but I'd like to know what people think.

One last comment is that his lecture seems to be much more related to Wilson's 'Stranger to Ourselves' or Kahneam's 'Thinking Fast and Slow' than to Gladwell's 'Blink'. In fact, Blink seemed to have a somewhat positive connotation about these automatic unconscious processes in the sense of enabling us to perceive things that our rational mind missed. The emphasis of the other two books seems to be on how misleading these are.
 

Carl

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Windmill knight said:
This issue really hit me when I read 'Strangers to Ourselves'. Although I was familiar with the idea of 'man as a machine' I realized on a deeper, visceral level how strong some programs are, how little we can know them, and even if we do, how difficult it is to control them - much less change them. Together with some life experiences and patterns I had been contemplating about myself for a few years, this insight had the result of demolishing the illusion that there was anything 'special', 'superior' or 'magical' about me. How could I, if I had to come to terms with the fact that I was never gong to be 'Program Free', and I could never have a fully objective view of myself? The more I could aspire to do was to learn to recognize as many of those programs as possible, so that when they kicked-in I could make an effort to steer into doing the right thing. Also, self-control and perfection took a secondary position as goals, and objectivity and truthfulness became more important (since they are more realistic to achieve and are preconditions for the others). In other words, it's better to see exactly who you are without embellishment than to pretend you got it all under control.

(When I talk about these programs I don't only mean biases about gender or optic illusions as illustrated in the video, but about any others which are more important because they have effects on others. For example, narcissistic programs. I don't think there is any reason to think these are less difficult to detect or counter, unless you have been fighting them for years.)

Not only my illusions of grandeur took a blow, but also my illusions of 'smallness', if we can call them like that. I couldn't feel euphoric about illusions that made me go 'high' anymore, but I found that I also could not go too low. Never too depressed nor too sad, because somehow getting carried away with those feelings was also a way of having a disproportionate self-image. It is giving too much importance to something which is largely a machine with a little bit of will and consciousness, and it would not be objective to think of myself as equal to nothing. Small as it may be, I have my place in the universe, the DCM decided that I should exist instead of not, and the fact that I can see the programs means that there is at least some consciousness to work with.

Altogether it has been a quite sobering insight and I would say my biggest lesson of the last two or three years.

I have had the exact same experience with these books. Gurdjieff laid out the facts thick and fast of just how dire our situation is, but didn't have the means to 'prove' it to me, at least not in book format. It only seemed to go in intellectually, and it was difficult to truly accept it.
With Strangers and TFaS, however, I just couldn't argue. It was a sobering and rather horrifying realisation that we really are little but a bunch of 'Little I's', a 'horse, carriage and driver' etc. But as you said, to see it for what it is is to have hope.

Now, one question about the video. Greenwald says that he thinks these biases are learned and not genetic. The examples he gives may be, like the correlation between gender and role (career or family). But are all biases really learned? Could it be that some of them are hard-wired, or that there is a genetic predisposition to have stronger tendencies than others? I suspect genetics does take a big role, but I'd like to know what people think.

This brings to mind some of the experiments from the book Mean Genes, where babies tend to prefer symmetrical faces. Even adult test subjects found the smell of sweat from a more symmetrical person more appealing. These kinds of programs are probably on different levels inside of us, and maybe the learned ones are more easily overcome, depending on the age that they began and how habitual they have become.

And then we have the whole idea of the instinctive substratum or natural temperament. Some people pick up certain programs more easily than others, no doubt. Some are more sensitive than others, some are born more aggressive etc. And then you have considerations of past life karma, spirit attachments, and other such things, which is another road all together. I think it all fits together at some level, and our individual programs - learned in this life or not - are an expression of who we are and the lessons we must learn.


One last comment is that his lecture seems to be much more related to Wilson's 'Stranger to Ourselves' or Kahneam's 'Thinking Fast and Slow' than to Gladwell's 'Blink'. In fact, Blink seemed to have a somewhat positive connotation about these automatic unconscious processes in the sense of enabling us to perceive things that our rational mind missed. The emphasis of the other two books seems to be on how misleading these are.

Yeah, I had that thought as well. From what I remember, Blink focused on how system 1 could be useful, only after many years of training in a certain specific situation. For instance, the fire-fighter in the building who's system 1 picks up on the impending collapse of the structure (without his conscious mind being aware), because he has been in the situation so many times before. But Strangers to Ourselves and Thinking Fast and Slow also had the same idea, that by feeding new information and experience to system 1, and teaching it gently, it can become useful and draw more accurate conclusions. So there is a way out, so to speak, but we're first required to recognize where we are programmed in the wrong way, and then somehow program ourselves in the right way, for each situation. Enough work for many lifetimes!
 

Windmill knight

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Carlisle said:
Now, one question about the video. Greenwald says that he thinks these biases are learned and not genetic. The examples he gives may be, like the correlation between gender and role (career or family). But are all biases really learned? Could it be that some of them are hard-wired, or that there is a genetic predisposition to have stronger tendencies than others? I suspect genetics does take a big role, but I'd like to know what people think.
This brings to mind some of the experiments from the book Mean Genes, where babies tend to prefer symmetrical faces. Even adult test subjects found the smell of sweat from a more symmetrical person more appealing. These kinds of programs are probably on different levels inside of us, and maybe the learned ones are more easily overcome, depending on the age that they began and how habitual they have become.

And then we have the whole idea of the instinctive substratum or natural temperament. Some people pick up certain programs more easily than others, no doubt. Some are more sensitive than others, some are born more aggressive etc. And then you have considerations of past life karma, spirit attachments, and other such things, which is another road all together. I think it all fits together at some level, and our individual programs - learned in this life or not - are an expression of who we are and the lessons we must learn.
Yeah, good example. That's what I mean. Things like beauty (symmetry), youth, health or gender may be to some extent hard-wired for survival of the species.

I would imagine that perhaps babies identify with the race of their families simply because that's what they see when they are being nurtured and cared for, and not necessarily because society tells them that the others are 'not as good' (although there is a lot of that too of course). Then when they grow up, I've observed (my subjective impression, mind you) that people tend to seek couples of their own race, and sometimes with people who actually look like their mom or dads! Even within same or very similar cultures and social classes/groups, I would expect there to be more interracial marriages than there are. If there is such bias, this would actually be learned, but at such an early stage that you couldn't attribute it to society. It would be something closer to imprinting. Then of course that wouldn't prevent people from recognizing attractiveness (physical or psychological) from others that look different, but if society reinforces the boundaries then it makes interracial relations harder.

I am also not discarding past life biases. I've noticed that I have biases for certain cultures, how some languages sound and historical periods that I cannot explain otherwise. But like you say that's another story.

I have had the exact same experience with these books.
That's reassuring. :)
 
Top Bottom