Showing posts with label subconscious. Show all posts
Showing posts with label subconscious. Show all posts

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Developing Innovative Capital Through the Subconscious

Creativity leads to innovation that improves organizational functioning by solving problems. As more problems are resolved, the organization continues growing to become competitive on the market. Even though the subconscious influences creativity and problem solving, it is has been ignored as pseudo-science despite impacting almost everything in our lives; including solving business problems.

Creativity relies on our ability to resolve problems that lead to the survival of both ourselves and society. Creative people like Einstein are honored because they have the capacity to develop new solutions to long unsolved problems. Without the use of the subconscious, creativity would have never been turned into a useful form.

Problem-solving requires preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification (Grupas, 1990). A creative person studies a problem and develops a knowledge base, allows possible solutions to incubate in the subconscious, percolates a solution into a conscious form that is verified through research.

The reason the subconscious is so powerful is that it is a self-organizing system that continually makes associations/connections between information (Andreasen, 2011). As the brain builds framework for handling environmental knowledge, it also connects, categories and comes to conclusions of perplexing problems.

The speed and ability of the mind to do this is based on the intelligence level of the individual. Intelligent people are better able to process greater amounts of information and find associations faster. When put to substantial use that innovative creativity has tangible value for business that want to invent new ways of doing things.

People with creative minds don’t often think like everyone else. They use a divergent system of reasoning that creates many different solutions that are eventually pruned back to the most useful ones. This is in contrast to the general population that has been socialized through schooling to use convergent thinking that relies on step-by-step processing models already planned out by someone else.

Divergent thinking can cause difficulties interacting with people. Many intelligent people lose jobs and opportunities only because of the restrictive social circles inherent in most businesses. They may say things that are true but also run against conventional wisdom that doesn’t sit well with ego driven individuals.

Open environments that respect the diversities of people, and the way in which people process information, are more likely to develop innovative environments. Restrictive, position-oriented, highly controlled conditions will restrict innovation. By developing the right open-minded environment, a company can foster the bringing forward of subconscious ideas to develop higher forms of intellectual capital.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Using the Philosophical Principles Conscious, Subconscious, and Intentionality in Management

We can learn a lot from philosophy and apply that to management in much the same way as we can learn from psychology, anatomy, or economics and use those principles within the workplace. I have the pleasure of engaging in a philosophy group that focuses on understanding key concepts of philosophy and finding practical uses for philosophical principles within our lives. The principles of philosophy can be used to create greater management skill and understanding of human behavior.

The subconscious influences a wide variety of daily behaviors without us even knowing it. The philosophical group moved from discussions of the conscious last week to the subconscious this week. The debate included concepts such as the need for the subconscious, nature of the subconscious, and intentionality. There are three reasons why as business professor I would be interested in the conscious, subconscious and intentionality.

Philosophy as a Platform:

Philosophy is pre-science that leads to greater discoveries about life and human nature. Philosophy first generates a mental conception of an idea and science tests it. Old ideas that don’t have a solid empirical footing eventually die off while new ideas emerge that better explain the nature of events. We must first think it before we can test it and use it. 

In the world of business, innovation is an important part of growing new products and services. The nature of philosophy helps business theorists understand human motivation, nature of life, and the process of creativity. Philosophy provides a broad framework in which details are drawn into through experience and empirical evidence. 

 The Nature of the Subconscious:  

Originally developed by psychologist Pierre Janet, the subconscious is seen as something under the layers of our conscious thought and generally out of our awareness. It is a little like dropping down a well where it becomes difficult to see even though you can feel the coolness of the water.  You may grab a hazy object and come to the surface whereby the sunlight (awareness) allows us to analyze the object.

The subconscious can be seen as a wild animal darting about irrationally where the conscious reins it in much like a rein on a horse. The subconscious can alternatively be seen as a goal directed truest sense of self where the conscious doesn’t control urges but finds the most advantageous places to allow those urges to fulfill themselves appropriately. The later argument is stronger than the first in terms of appreciating the “whole person” as an integrated entity. 

The Purpose of the Subconscious

The subconscious has a powerful calculating component that works in the background of our conscious life. If we tried to pay attention to everything that happens in our life we would overwhelm our senses and abilities. It wouldn’t be long before we found ourselves exhausted and confused. The subconscious does all that work for us. 

The subconscious is a survival system that pushes for certain urges and needs. Its thoughts and desires bubble up from the depths of the mind and when we are aware put into our conscious mind. Those connected to their subconscious can also tap into creativity and problem solving abilities for sport or survival. 


Discussed in the 19th Century by philosopher Franz Brentano and tries to explain concepts as they relate to a goal directed mind. Our mind is fed by our sense and creates images and impressions. Because we have these images and impressions and they are different from the physical existence of these properties means we have intentionality of the mind. 

Intentionality is a little confusing as they relate to how we feel about particular objects, ideas, and concepts but they do not have to exist in front of us at the time. If we think about something we like (i.e. ice cream) we will naturally create an impression of that ice cream in our mind and have certain feelings and thoughts related to it. We are thus displaying intentionality. 

Together we can find that intentionality and conscious work together. As information bubbles from our subconscious to our conscious it takes on a level of intentionality. The feelings, impressions and images may be in our subconscious but as soon as we are aware of them they have some goal directed properties. We have emotions, feelings and impressions that lead us down certain behavioral paths. 

If we think of the multitudes of people within any workplace in America, or the world, we will find that activities are definitely goal oriented. The reasons why a person comes to work and shuffles papers everyday has obvious advantages. The way in which a person feels and thinks about these things is more difficult to understand and could have subconscious roots. Understanding human nature helps in better managing people and motivating them to a higher degree of performance.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Subconscious Priming of Performance

Priming is a concept that entails embedding a concept into the human subconscious in an effort to alter behavior. Dr. Minas, Dr. Bhagwatwar, and Dr. Dennis from the University of Indiana have studied priming on a group to improve business communication and creativity on a group level (2013). They used computer simulated games to provide neural priming and then test creativity and ideation thereafter and found that there was a high correlation between the two. 

Organizations often seek to create higher levels of creativity and innovation to produce new products and services for market. Some are searching methods for using online communication methods in order to develop a stronger level of communication performance. This can help in everything from workplace productivity to effective marketing methods. If online communication can influence behavior the overall financial and social benefits are large. 

Our subconscious cognition influences our online behavior.  The use of priming taps into our working memory through beliefs, values, and attitudes that impact subsequent behaviors.  It can be primed through words, pictures, symbols, and a number of other ways. The researchers used a simulation game to create primed behavior. 

The use of supraliminal priming allows the participants to know the stimulus but not know its overall intention. Postmes et al. (2001), found that priming online in pro-social stimulus produced positive pro-social behaviors. An anonymous group’s behavior changed to develop higher levels of performance in social ways.

The key to priming is to activate mental representations (i.e. images). The use of subliminal priming focuses on imperceptible bursts of information that is then masked.  Supraliminal priming is an obvious stimulus that activates mental representations but the intent is hidden from the participants conscious. The two can be used together or separate to influence follow-up thinking. Participants shouldn’t be aware that they are being primed in order for it to be effective. 

Priming can impact access to categories of concepts through a series of words. The author uses the word “popcorn” to show how categories of eating, corn, family, etc… can be primed. The primed words can be used in an individual or within a social setting. When groups are primed for performance or creativity they can perform better due to previous mental representations that were activated. 

The researchers used 175 sophomores working in groups of five participants creating thirty-five groups. The participants worked on generating ideas for increasing tourism as well as reducing pollution. They were instructed to generate as many ideas as possible and build off of the ideas of other groups. They used group chat rooms to foster their discussions. Participants were performance primed or neutral primed by sequentially picking words that created newspaper headlines. 

The researchers found that those who were primed for performance achieved significantly higher new ideas and performance than those whose primes were neutral. The priming impacted an individual’s semantic networks and they in turn influenced other peoples. The impact is additive as each person generates ideas and builds off of others ideas. 

The significance is profound as it could impact both marketing and group performance. By using proper primes within a sequence it is possible to ensure that the priming effects do not wear off and that certain behaviors are more likely to be exhibited based upon their semantic category mapping (i.e. mind mapping). We are consistently and randomly primed in our environment. How, we act and react to others primes our next thoughts and behaviors. People are not able to often connect the primes to accurately understand their environment. If a group of people are negatively priming others they can expect lower performance while if they are positively priming others they can expect higher performance. This is done without intention but is a natural part of living socially and helps us create culture. This is why our social environment is extremely important to our overall success. Organizations can seek to create positive priming environments that foster higher levels of creativity, performance, and development. 

Dennis, A., Minas, R. & Bhagwatwar, A. (2013) Sparking creativity: improving electronic brainstorming with individual cognitive priming. Journal of Management Information Systems, 29 (4). 

 Postmes, T. et. al. (2001). Social influence in computer mediated communication: The effects of anonymity on group behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27 (10)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Book Review-Subliminal-How your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior

Dr. Leonard Mlodinow’s book Subliminal-How your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior focuses on understanding the underpinnings of human thought and how this impacts just about everything within our lives. He graduated with his doctorate from the University of California Berkeley in physics. He enjoys working with concepts in mathematics, chemistry, laws of nature and the unconscious mind.  Furthermore, he also works as a screenwriter, playwright, and academia. 

Carl Jung once stated, “These subliminal aspects of everything that happens to us may seem to play very little part in our daily lives. But they are almost invisible roots of our conscious thoughts.

The unconscious mind is a two tier system of conscious thought processes and unconscious activity.  Consciousness can only handle and process a small percentage of information. The unconscious is a much stronger system that collects, connects, and processes greater amounts of information for further use. It is a system designed to allow us to focus on one complex task while still being aware of our surroundings. 

Senses plus mind equal the subconscious.  Since the ancient Greeks man has sought to see how the processes work together. The unconscious has its own way of viewing the world and draws information through the senses. For example, research on blindsight indicates that some humans have the amazing ability to see and understand where they are in relation to other objects without the ability to actually see them. The unconscious uses various data from the environment to navigate, function and ensure survival.  This is the reality in which we perceive.

"Your amicable words mean nothing if your body seems to be saying something different"-James Borg

Our subconscious mind also affords the opportunity to understand human beings without formal language. If we listen to the words of someone but fail to have that same impression from their body language, choice of words, and patterns of speech, etc... we are likely to correctly conclude they can’t be trusted. The same process, to a lower level, exists in animals that seek to understand friend or foe when meeting others within the same species. 

"All groups…develop a way of living with characteristic codes and beliefs" –Gordon Allport

Each group creates special meaning and language that impacts their identity. Those outside of the group will have a difficult time understanding what these special codes and language choices mean. As the group forms and identity it is the understandings and subtle impressions they give each other that helps to create the way in which they see themselves. Their approach and beliefs in the world create the in and out group phenomenon.

The book is written for an audience of casual readers. It is something that readers of Psychology Today are likely to pick up. It will make great conversation while dining with others.  It does offer some level of scientific value in terms of giving a broad overview of the subconscious process. It doesn’t go into specific depth on any of the experiments and what their far reaching implications are. You can learn something about neuroscience. It is worth the read and is listed as a best seller.  

Mlodinow, L. ( 2012). Subliminal-How your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior. Vintage Books; NY.  ISBN: 978-0-307-47225-0