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The New Unconscious$
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Ran R. Hassin, James S. Uleman, and John A. Bargh

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195307696

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195307696.001.0001

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Bypassing the Will: Toward Demystifying the Nonconscious Control of Social Behavior

Bypassing the Will: Toward Demystifying the Nonconscious Control of Social Behavior

(p.37) 2 Bypassing the Will: Toward Demystifying the Nonconscious Control of Social Behavior
The New Unconscious

John A. Bargh

Oxford University Press

Action tendencies can be activated and put into motion without the need for the individual's conscious intervention; even complex social behavior can unfold without an act of will or awareness of its sources. Behavioral evidence from patients with frontal lobe lesions, behavior and goal-priming studies in social psychology, the dissociated behavior of deeply hypnotized subjects, findings from the study of human brain evolution, cognitive neuroscience studies of the structure and function of the frontal lobes as well as the separate actional and semantic visual pathways, cognitive psychological research on the components of working memory and on the degree of conscious access to motoric behavior—all of these converge on the conclusion that complex behavior and other higher mental processes can proceed independently of the conscious will. Indeed, the brain evolution and neuropsychological evidence suggests that the human brain is designed for such independence. This chapter compares and contrasts lines of research relevant to the nonconscious control of individual social behavior—that is, behavior induced to occur by environmental factors and not by the individual's conscious awareness and intentions.

Keywords:   social behavior, will, frontal lobe lesions, social psychology, evolution, brain, cognitive neuroscience, working memory, mental processes, nonconscious control

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