The best of both worlds: Integrating conscious and unconscious thought best solves complex decisions

Loran F. Nordgren*, Maarten W. Bos, Ap Dijksterhuis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations

Abstract

Two studies address the debate over whether conscious or unconscious mental processes best handle complex decisions. According to Unconscious Thought Theory (Dijksterhuis & Nordgren, 2006) both modes of thinking have particular advantages: conscious thought can follow strict rules, whereas unconscious thought is better suited for integrating numerous decision attributes. Because most complex decisions require both adherence to precise rules and the aggregation of information, we hypothesized that complex decisions can best be made by engaging in periods of both conscious and unconscious thought. In both studies we found that the sequential integration of conscious and unconscious thought solved complex choices better than conscious or unconscious thought alone. In Study 2 we examined whether the sequential order of the integration condition matters. In line with our prediction, we found that integration worked best when unconscious thought followed conscious thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-511
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume47
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2011

Keywords

  • Judgment and decision-making
  • Social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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