Non-conscious pursuit helps achieve goal

March 8th, 2008 - 2:53 pm ICT by admin  

Dubai, March 8 (IANS) All of us tend to consciously pursue our goals, but little is known of how our non-conscious helps us in getting there. A new study has found that our non-conscious does indeed play a key role in piloting us toward our destined future.

For instance, people learn about the rather complex structures of the environment and do so implicitly, or without intention. This led three Hebrew University psychologists to examine the benefit of non-conscious pursuit of goals in new environments.

Existing theory suggests that this pursuit only reproduces formerly learned actions, therefore is ineffective in mastering a new skill.

Psychologists Baruch Eitam, Ran Hassin and Yaacov Schul argue the opposite: that non-conscious goal pursuit can help people achieve their goals, even in a new environment in which they have no prior experience.

Their findings appear in the March issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

In the first of two experiments, Eitam and colleagues had participants complete a word search task.

One half of the participants’ puzzles included words associated with achievement, while the other half performed a motivationally neutral puzzle including words such as, carpet, diamond and hat.

Then participants performed a computerised simulation of running a sugar factory. Their goal in the simulation was to produce a specific amount of sugar. They were only told that they could change the number of employees in the factory.

Although participants were not told about the complex relationship that existed between the number of employees and past production levels (and could not verbalise it after the experiment had ended); they gradually grew better in controlling the factory.

As predicted, the non-consciously motivated participants (the group that had previously found words associated with achievement) learned to control the factory better than the control group.

In a second experiment the researchers replicated the findings by having participants perform a simple task of responding to a circle that repeatedly appeared in one of four locations.

They were not told that the circle appeared in a fixed sequence of locations. Non-consciously motivated participants had again (non-consciously) learned the sequence better than control participants.

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