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Maybe it helps to be conscious, after all

  • Roy F. Baumeister (a1), Kathleen D. Vohs (a2) and E. J. Masicampo (a3)


Psychologists debate whether consciousness or unconsciousness is most central to human behavior. Our goal, instead, is to figure out how they work together. Conscious processes are partly produced by unconscious processes, and much information processing occurs outside of awareness. Yet, consciousness has advantages that the unconscious does not. We discuss how consciousness causes behavior, drawing conclusions from large-scale literature reviews.



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Baars, B. J. (2002) The conscious access hypothesis: Origins and recent evidence. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 6(1):4752.
Baumeister, R. F. & Masicampo, E. J. (2010) Conscious thought is for facilitating social and cultural interactions: How mental simulations serve the animal–culture interface. Psychological Review 117(3):945–71.
Baumeister, R. F., Masicampo, E. J. & Vohs, K. D. (2011) Do conscious thoughts cause behavior? Annual Review of Psychology 62:331–61. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.093008.131126.
DeWall, C. N., Baumeister, R. F. & Masicampo, E. J. (2008) Evidence that logical reasoning depends on conscious processing. Consciousness and Cognition 17(3):628–45.
James, W. (1890) The principles of psychology,vols. 1–2. Holt.
Sklar, A., Levy, N., Goldstein, A., Mandel, R., Maril, A. & Hassin, R. R. (2012) Reading and doing arithmetic nonconsciously. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 109(48):19614–19. Retrieved from doi: 10.1073/pnas.1211645109.

Maybe it helps to be conscious, after all

  • Roy F. Baumeister (a1), Kathleen D. Vohs (a2) and E. J. Masicampo (a3)


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