9 February 2006, CSCA lecture series, Prof. dr. Ap Dijksterhuis
Prof. Ap Dijksterhuis will be holding the first CSCA lecture of 2006. On February 9th, he will comment on the role of unconsciousness and conscious processes in attitude formation and decision making. Prof. Dijksterhuis is professor at the Psychology department of the Universiteit van Amsterdam; he received the Early Career Award from the American Psychological Association in 2005.
It is a widely held belief that people should consciously think about the decisions they make. When faced with decisions such as whether to buy a house or not or whether to switch jobs or not, thorough conscious contemplation is generally expected to lead to the best decisions. I would like to challenge this notion. Although consciousness can be said to be "smart" and rational, it is also of very limited capacity. This means that when making decisions about rather complex, multifaceted issues, conscious thought can be maladaptive and lead to poor decisions. This conclusion is less sobering than it may seem, because it does not mean that people are poor decision makers: "Unconscious thought" (i.e., chewing on a problem without directed conscious thought) can lead to very sound decisions.
For more information, see http://www.csca.uva.nl/.