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ECH-31306 UTT Stein Jongerius
Transcript of ECH-31306 UTT Stein Jongerius
In 1991 Wilson & Schooler held two experiments, in these experiments they studied the effects of introspection. In the first study student were asked to rate several strawberry jams, experts did the same and these ratings were compared. When students analyzed the reasons behind their preferences they seemed to agree less with the experts, this was in contrary with students who didn't analyze their reasons; their ratings seemed to fit more with those of the experts.
In the second study students were again asked for their preferences but this time around they rated college courses. In this experiment there were two groups (besides a control group), the first group was asked to analyze their reasons, the second group had to evaluate all attributes of the courses. Both methods of introspection lead to people making ratings which didn't correspond with ratings of the experts. Therefore Wilson & Schooler concluded that introspection (can) reduces the quality of preferences and decisions. In 1993 this study has been repeated by Wilson et al. Again the same results and conclusion could be drawn.
2004-2006 Birth of UTT
Although published in 2006, and therefore the first
publication about the Unconscious thought theory (UTT) the experiments where this research is build upon found place in 2004
Dijksterhuis et al conducted 5 experiments which lead to the UTT, resulting in the conclusion that complex matters would best be solved with unconscious thoughts. However, simple choices get better results being solved by conscious thoughts.
In 2008 "González-Vellejo et al concluded that the UTT "failed to take into account important work in cognitive psychology" Also established literature in social pscholgy contradicts the fundamental tenets of the UTT. González-Vellejo et al, therefore concluded that theoretical and experimental deficiencies undermine the claims of superiority of unconscious thinking as portrayed by the UTT.
In the same year, Acker tried to test the theory. He made a functional replication of the study by Dijksterhuis, using 98 Australian students. The results were shocking, the findings indicated that unconscious thought didnt lead to better decision making that conscious thought did. This is the opposite of what Dijksterhuis found
Ham et al, found that in the field of justice the UTT is applicable, unconscious thought can lead to more accurate justice judgments than conscious thought aswell as immediate judgement
On the other side, Waroquier et al failed to find evidence for the benefits of unconscious decision-making. He even found some evidence that conscious deliberation can lead to better decisions. He also identified 3 methodological pitfalls in the UTT.
1. Attributes weighting was neglected although attributes were seen as different in importance.
2. The material wasn't properly counterbalanced
3. There was some confusion in the experimental instructions
Waroquier et al found that there was no difference in decision quality amongst the groups that had to make decisions immediately and after distracting, implying 3 options
1. Participants had already made their decision during the intake of information
2. Deliberation without attention does not occur during distraction
3. Constant rethinking of one's first impression can deteriorate decision quality
Unconscious thought theory
Bargh view on the discussion of the UTT was more of a middle ground. He distinguished two waves or researchers about the UTT, the first wave being a wave of research that tried to rank the two types of consciousness. In this wave researchers tried to prove the superiority of one above the other. The second wave however was more applicable to real life, instead of trying to prove general superiority researchers found out in which case which method of thinking was best (and also combining these methods).
Huizinga et al used four empirical test to (diss)prove the UTT. She stated that if the UTT was true the following should be true aswell in her own experiments.
- Exact replication of Dijksterhuis experiment should indicate that unconscious decisions are superior to conscious one's.
- Decisions should improve with duration of conscious thought
- Unconscious decisions should be superior to conscious decisions, even if unconscious decisions are deliberated while having access to information
- Unconscious decisoins should be based on a weighting strategy.
Unfortunately for Dijksterhuis the study featuring 480 participants yields no evidence in favor of any of these predictions. Huizinga does conclude that it's better to base decisions on conscious thought while having access to information.
In 2013 Srinivasan et al did a research into the importance of attention whilst making a decision. Results showed that attention influences the decision making process, this resulted in the conclusion that the UTT should be revised.
In 2014 Li found some evidence in favour of the UTT. She experimented with the UTT, but now not giving all the information (needed for the decision) at once but spreading out the information in 2 sessions. This resulted in the conclusion that unconscious thought integrated information from both sessions, whilst conscious thought couldn't do this and used mainly the most recent information session.
Vlassova found out that even though unconscious decision (might) increase accuracy of the decision it certainly does not increase the confidence of the decision. This suggests that the human race has a bad metacognition for unconscious decisional evidence.
After reading quite some articles about the Unconscious thought theory I remain skeptical. Yes there is some proof that this theory is real, but then again just as much proof that disproves the theory. I personally think the unconscious is a powerful tool that is really helpful. The concept of the unconscious is too hard to understand at this point (or at least for me). I think that we might be overlooking some terms that we consider to be irrelevant . In everyday life I have more than once experienced the UTT theory ( for instance on those pesky exams). But then again for the times it helped me it equally backfired on me. Also the main prove for this theory comes from articles from Dijksterhuis himself which feels a bit sketchy.
Dijksterhuis et al., 2006 (Dijksterhuis, A., & Nordgren, L. F. (2006). A theory of unconscious thought.Perspectives on Psychological science, 1(2), 95-109.)
Wilson, T. D., & Schooler, J. W. (1991). Thinking too much: Introspection can reduce the quality of preferences and decisions. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 60(2), 181-192
Newell, B. R., & Rakow, T. (2011). REVISING BELIEFS ABOUT THE MERIT OF UNCONSCIOUS THOUGHT: EVIDENCE IN FAVOR OF THE NULL HYPOTHESIS. Social Cognition, 29(6), 711-726
González-Vallejo, C., Lassiter, G. D., Bellezza, F. S., & Lindberg, M. J. (2008). " Save angels perhaps": A critical examination of unconscious thought theory and the deliberation-without-attention effect. Review of General Psychology,12(3), 282.
Acker, F. (2008). New findings on unconscious versus conscious thought in decision making: additional empirical data and meta-analysis. Judgment and Decision Making, 3(4), 292-303.
Waroquier, L., Marchiori, D., Klein, O., & Cleeremans, A. (2010). Is it better to think unconsciously or to trust your first impression? A reassessment of unconscious thought theory. Social Psychological and Personality Science,1(2), 111-118.
Ham, J., van den Bos, K., & van Doorn, E. A. (2009). Lady Justice thinks unconsciously: Unconscious thought can lead to more accurate justice judgments. Social Cognition, 27(4), 509-521.
Waroquier, L., Marchiori, D., Klein, O., & Cleeremans, A. (2009). Methodological pitfalls of the unconscious thought paradigm. Judgment and Decision Making, 4(7), 601-610.
Huizenga, H. M., Wetzels, R., van Ravenzwaaij, D., & Wagenmakers, E. J. (2012). Four empirical tests of unconscious thought theory. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 117(2), 332-340.
Bargh, J. A. (2011). Unconscious thought theory and its discontents: a critique of the critiques. Social Cognition, 29(6), 629-647.
Srinivasan, N., Mukherjee, S., Mishra, M. V., & Kesarwani, S. (2013). Evaluating the role of attention in the context of unconscious thought theory: differential impact of attentional scope and load on preference and memory.Frontiers in psychology, 4.
Li, J., Gao, Q., Zhou, J., Li, X., Zhang, M., & Shen, M. (2014). Bias or equality? Unconscious thought equally integrates temporally scattered information. Consciousness and cognition, 25, 77-87.
Vlassova, A., Donkin, C., & Pearson, J. (2014). Unconscious information changes decision accuracy but not confidence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(45), 16214-16218.