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How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behaviour: Leonard Mlodinow at TEDxReset 2013


Translator: Irina Rafaelle Grinberg
Reviewer: Denise RQ Hi there. Let’s start. You may have heard of speed dating
or speed interviews, we’ll do a speed experiment,
so, I’m just going to get on with it. It’s voluntary and it’s anonymous,
so, you don’t have to do it, but if you do it, don’t worry
about how you do. There is no right or wrong. If you see yourself
on this side of me, of my line here, you call yourself
you are in group number one. And if you are on this side,
you are in group number two. And the important thing is
I’ll show you some slides and you answer on the slips
that you have in front of you, and just do everything silently. So, first, group number two,
turn away from the screen, so you don’t see it,
if you wish to participate. Turn away, so you don’t see
what is going to be projected. And, group number one, here we go! Please, read this question
silently and answer it. Now, please, read this question silently
and answer this question. Sorry to rush you, but if you can get
your answers down, we’ll move on. Now, group number one,
please put your group number at the top of the slip and circle it
and turn away from the screen now. Group two, you can turn toward the screen. Are we ready? Please, read this question
silently and answer it. Now, please, read this question
silently and answer this one. If you finished up, please, write your group number
at the top of your slip and circle it. And everyone can turn forward again. And if you are in group one,
pass your slips toward this aisle. And if you are in group two,
pass your slips toward this aisle. They’ll be collected,
and we will get to them later in the talk. So, let’s talk about
your unconscious mind, and let’s begin by talking
about what I mean by the ‘unconscious.’ In modern science,
what we mean by the ‘unconscious’ are processes that go on
in your brain that are automatic. They don’t take any effort,
they’re beyond your awareness, so you don’t know they are happening,
and they are mostly beyond your control. And because of this,
we don’t really understand what is influencing our thoughts,
perceptions, our feelings, our judgments, so that has a huge effect on our behavior. But I want to contrast
the modern unconscious with the Freudian
or the Jungian unconscious. And what we mean by the unconscious
in modern science today, is our mental processes that are outside
of our control and our awareness because of the structure of our brain. It’s not the Freudian unconsciousness
which was hidden for emotional reasons and that could be revealed
through introspection or through therapy. This unconsciousness is totally different from that traditional idea
of the unconscious. And the field that I’m going to talk about
is called social neuroscience. It is a new field that has just begun
in about the last ten years, and it’s a combination of three fields:
one is Social Psychology, which is the psychology
of how people interact with each other. The second is Cognitive Psychology which
is the psychology of how people think. And the third is something
completely different; it’s neuroscience, especially neuroscience
using modern technology, such as fMRI technology
which images your brain and can show what parts
of your brain are functioning, as you have thoughts, feelings,
perceptions, as you make decisions. And this kind of technology
has revolutionized psychology because prior to this, of course,
we couldn’t look into the brain to see what was actually going on,
and psychology was kind of a soft science. But this has made psychology
much more of a hard science because we can connect brain mechanisms
and structures to the behavior we see. So, I’m going to talk today
about the unconscious in two realms. The first is the realm of physical
perception, hearing and seeing. And the reason I’m going to talk about
that is, partly, because, of course, it’s very important to how we survive
and interact in our environment, and partly, because all the processes,
some of which are very complex, that have to do
with your social perception, are similar or analogous to the same processes that happen
in your hearing and your vision, which we can illustrate very clearly. And I want you to come away
with this lesson, that our perceptions, both
our visual and our physical perceptions, and also our social perceptions
of other people, and situations, in life and business are very much affected by our unconscious. That what we perceive, isn’t really
the data that is literally out there, but it’s a construction
that our minds make using our imagination. It’s not really what is there. This is an example from sight. This is just a typical scene
of a road side view that you might see if you are driving down the road. And it’s what we normally
perceive. It’s very clear. But now I’m going to show you a slide that is made from the data
that actually hits your retina. So, this slide I am about to show you
is what you would perceive, if there was no unconscious processing if you saw, literally,
the optical data that hit your retina. And, as you can see, it’s very fuzzy. It’s a little bit clearer
towards the center and outside it’s very fuzzy. And the reason
that you don’t have this horrible vision and bump into things,
and fall off cliffs, etc., is that your unconscious mind,
automatically, with no effort, immediately processes that data
and gives you the clear image. And when it processes the data, it uses not only, of course,
the data that is there, but it uses other things,
it makes its best guess, and it uses things like your expectations,
your desires, and your beliefs. So, let’s see, how that works. One of the things
that it also uses is the context. And I’m going to illustrate that here. If you look at the squares A and B, A looks like a dark square,
and B looks like a light square. That’s not really what’s going on.
A and B are identical. The optical data that’s coming
to your eye from square A and B are exactly the same. They only look different
because your unconscious processing is taking the fact
that there is a shadow there, and there is a checkerboard; and it’s presenting you
with what looks like a real image. As I remove the context,
you can see what happens. Now you can see
that they are both the same. So this is an illustration
of how your unconscious mind helps you to see things
in an environment that will make sense. Now, notice the automaticity!
That you can’t overcome this. If you look at the square,
at the checkerboard, you cannot see A and B being the same, even though if you look at A and B
on the white background, you see that they are. Here is another example.
Humans are very social creatures. So, facial processing is very important
to identify people, and also to tell what people are thinking
and what they intend to do. And because we are social creatures,
and we had to get along as we evolved, a lot of our mental processes
in our brain evolved to help us to get along with other people
and to understand them. These two pictures are of Barack Obama. And they probably both
look more or less like Barack Obama, but what happens when I turn them over? The part of your brain
that focuses on faces, and helps you to identify faces,
doesn’t really work for upside down faces because we are not used
to seeing people upside down. So, it evolved for right side up faces. Look, what happens when I turn it over. So, now you can see that the picture
on your right is very deformed, the picture on the other side is not. Now, watch, as I turn it back over,
they look again kind of normal. So, this is your unconscious mind
at work, and then not at work. Let me give you now
another example from hearing to show you that hearing works in
a similar way or analogous way to vision in how you use, for instance, context. Here is an old song
that you may recognize by Led Zeppelin. It should be playing right now. Audio? Well, these are the words to the old song, so you don’t really have to hear
the forward part, but I need to get the audio going
before the next slide. Anybody? Is the audio going to work now? (Song plays) There we go! Alright. You can trust me that these are the words. But the question is,
when I play this song backwards, are you going to understand words? Was the group Led Zeppelin smart enough to design a song that makes sense
both forward and backward? So, I want you to listen to this audio. Let your ears process it
and see if you can understand the words. I apologize, if you don’t speak English,
this may be a little difficult. (Audio plays) So, is this making sense? I bet it’s not,
whether you speak English or Turkish. When you hear the song backward,
it sound like gibberish. But now I’m going to play the song again
for you and I’m going to give you context. Just like you saw the squares differently
when I put the checkerboard there and when I took them away, I’ll put a ‘checkerboard’ here,
I’ll put some words here. You follow along with the words
and listen to the same audio again, and see if you don’t hear these words. (Audio plays) So, now you heard the same thing
that you heard before, but you heard a different reality. Now you heard words
and before you heard gibberish. So, which is it? Well, they really didn’t make
these words backwards, but we take the music, and we match words
that sound like the backward song. And when you have that context, your brain makes you think
that it’s really there. So, this is an example of your
unconscious processing at work again! I’m going to play again
a little bit of the song for you, but just to show how automatic this is, I’m going to play the song,
with the words again, the backward song. I want you to listen to it
and read the words, but don’t hear the words! Try and hear as you did
the first time, as gibberish. (Audio plays) So, now, when you hear it
and you watch the words, just like you couldn’t see
the checkerboard and see those squares differently
when you are looking at it, you can’t avoid hearing the words,
when you have the context there. So, these are examples
of your unconscious mind and how it works, and how you have no control
or awareness over its functioning. But let’s talk about social perception, because that’s really
where it is most interesting. And I want to convince you
that our social perception is also not a direct construction from the data
that you get about people, but uses a lot of other factors,
such as your beliefs, your desires, your expectations, and the context to make a picture of other people
and social situations. This slide illustrates an experiment
that was done in California. Researchers made flyers for the candidates
in two fictitious political races. And on the flyers, they listed
for the liberal candidate the qualifications and the views, and also for the conservative
candidate data like that. But they also put a picture in
for the liberal and for the conservative. And then they had people come in
to read these flyers and say, “Who would you vote for?”,
if you are voting. And the difference is
that half of the people saw flyers where the liberal
was made to look more competent, and the conservative
made to look less competent, and the other half saw flyers
where it was the other way around. And so the question is,
does the look of competence that was in these flyers
affect the way people vote, or do they vote just on the data
that they think they are voting on, which is the other data that was listed? And the result was very dramatic. When the conservative candidate
looked more competent, she got 58% of the votes. But when she looked
less competent she got only 44%. So there was a 14% vote swing. So people thought that they were voting based on certain data,
which was the hard data, but they were really also voting on looks. Of course, this was in a laboratory,
so you might say, “Does it really happen in real elections?” And, fortunately, a Professor
at Princeton decided to find out. In 2006, he collected pairs of head shots
of the competing candidates in dozens of races
around the United States. And then he got people from districts
where these races were not being run in, people who didn’t know the candidates, just to look at the pairs of photos
and rate who looks more competent. So he had these people
look at the pairs of photos and tell them who looks more competent, took the statistics on that, and he predicted the outcome of all
these races, based purely on looks. Not beauty or handsomeness,
but the look of who is more competent. And how often was he correct?
He was right 70% of the time. So, in 70% of the races
around the United States, the candidate who looked
more competent won the race. So, obviously, we are not just basing our vote
on what we think we are basing it on, but our unconscious mind is pushing us
to vote for people based on looks. Another thing that influences
a great deal is touch. All primates rely on touch to form bonds
and trust with each other. Most primates spend hours a day
grooming each other. Humans do it a little bit less
and its much more subtle, but it really has an affect. So I’ll talk to you a little bit now
about how you take in data from people, based on whether or not they touch you. And when I say “touch you,”
I don’t mean a grope or a big hug. I’m talking about something as subtle as a quarter to half a second light touch
on the elbow or the shoulder. And my favorite experiment
in this realm was done in France, where French researchers hired
two actors to stand on street corners, in a town in Northern France,
on sunny days in the summer, and proposition all the single,
young women who walked by. And to all the young women
they said the same thing. Here’s the script translated into English. The difference between
how they treated the women was: to half the women they provided
this light quarter to half second touch on the forearm or the shoulder, and to the other half, they didn’t. And the question was, would they increase
their success rate with the touch? And the answer is yes,
they did. By a great deal. They were successful in getting
the phone number of the women 10% of the time without a touch
and 20% of the time with the touch. So it doubled their success rate. Now, of course, picking up a woman
is a sexual related activity, so you might think that touch is expected
to have a greater influence there, but this same experiment
has been done in many other contexts. For instance, waiters and waitresses
in restaurants increase their tips by 30% if they give their customers
a light touch. So this is something again
that happens subconsciously. When they interviewed people
after the experiment, most of them did not remember
even being touched, and they all denied that the touch
is what influenced their decision. In my last minute, I want to convince you that these
unconscious processes also affect you because a lot of people
hear these things and go: “Yeah, other people are silly,
aren’t they? But it doesn’t work with me.” So, before this talk, at the beginning,
I did a little experiment. I asked you how much you would expect
to pay for this hotel room. And I divided you into two groups. And, typically, when I do this experiment, group one tends to average around
a $1,000 or $1,200 in their answer. And group two tends to go
to like $200 or $300. Let’s see, what you guys did. Sean? Thank you. Wow! OK. Group one 1,857 dollars
and group two 131 dollars. So, how did I, the magician, influence you subliminally
to make these guesses because I didn’t twist your arm, and I didn’t give you
any different data on the two rooms? Both groups took in exactly the same data, and, somehow,
you made different conclusions. And the difference was this. Group one was asked first this question, “Does this room cost
5,500 dollars a night?” I think, the answer is pretty clearly no. But group two was asked,
“Is this 55 dollars a night?” The answer is also no. So, when you answered the second question,
you probably didn’t think you are basing your answer
on the first question, but you were. This is the context,
just like the checkerboard was. And just like the words were
to the backward song. So, let me end
with the quote from Carl Jung, who I don’t agree with
his specifics of what he believed, but I think he was right when he said: “These subliminal aspects
of everything that happens to us may seem to play
a very little part in our daily lives, but they are the almost invisible roots
of our conscious thoughts.” Thank you. (Applause) (Host) Thank you,
thank you so much. So, you know that how do we choose… You just proved
that we don’t really choose. Leonard Mlodinow: You choose,
but you don’t exactly know how are you doing the choosing. Host: Thank you very much. LM: Thank you very much. (Applause) (Host) Thank you. Thank you.

Reynold King

100 Replies to “How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behaviour: Leonard Mlodinow at TEDxReset 2013”

  1. "There was a little toolshed where he made us suffer, sad Satan." That was a very creepy moment, i guess the audience felt that way too.

  2. Oh, I get it. It's a paranormal talk. I was able to mind read the questions, but I answered the all incorrectly. Dang it!

    EDIT: It's hilarious that nobody in the audience is paying any attention. They're all playing grab ass. Crazy bunch that TedX crowd. Must be a hook up event for smarty pants types.

  3. 2 years after the question were asked………. no no i think that was as an inappropriate question as who you voted for as the 2017 election. I give this question a a very import dis value of because of a loss of data.

  4. My conscious mind noticed that the subconscious mind was having a difficult time keeping up with the slides show because of the advance camera angles. The advance camera angles confused my unconscious mind to but overall the subject of talk was interesting and I'm saying this from my conscious and not my subconscious.😀 yes unconscious? Unconscious speaking. The comments are interesting.😂

  5. Unless the editing was deliberate and part of a subconscious experiment for the viewer………….. Or maybe it was just inept!!

  6. This man cites no studies, no research. How do you verify that the unconscious in filling in peripheral imagery? I see why TED is furious that its Name is being used for such talks as these?

  7. Editor, Wai u do dis…is this part of the experiment? The slides are part of the context, without it the information presented is different though it is the same.

  8. So frustrating I stopped watching, can't stand the ineffectiveness on the editing and camera angles. With over 500,000 views and all the comments below why hasn't anyone at TEDx not enlightened us as to the why this is talk is so unprofessional or better yet, fixed it??

  9. These talkers are a waste of space certain mysteries of being human should be preserved or protected as the reserve of humanity. What a boring tossa and how this helps us I don’t know! How it helps those that wish to manipulate is readily clear!

  10. So frustrating!!! I really wish Tedx Talks would remove this video. Quit hoping it would get better at 10m. Thanks for tge fancy crowd shots! Ugh.

  11. Ironic that this video was about psychology and visuals yet we are not allowed to visualize the examples he is using to show us what he means. The editor of the filming is high perhaps? :-O

  12. Great talk, very interesting. I think the AV people should find another career though, they clearly weren't cut out for this. A kindergartner would do a better job I think. Frustrating that I wasn't able to follow along with the slides.

  13. I find it difficult to understand the outcome of your lecture. Purely technical. Our religious texts says our senses are imperfect, illusive and there is a tendency to cheat. But fortunately we have our freewill to choose our actions. It looks We are in the same side of the coin !

  14. Many things Neuroscientists are now figuring out with help of technology, Jung figured it out by himself.. My respect to him

  15. -Expert: Please read this slide carefully
    -Editing people: Oh interesting! let’s have a look of how many in the audience are reading the slide and FU€K the 600K people watching it from YouTube!
    Jabronies!

  16. Leonard’s book “Subliminal” is Excellent!
    However, the video producer/camera work of this talk actually sucked and detracted from his insightful topic.

  17. This sounds great for propaganda. A massive wave of detrimental and emotion filled headlines targeting something or someone and voilá, people will hate (or love) someone and they won't know why

  18. How is the question regards the pricing even relevant to the background checkers thing? 5500 vs 55 dollars is just such a huge gap, the audience must have based this on actual hotel usage where they have seen a 1200 and 300 average price irrespective of what the background price was. You cant't manipulate economics like that. It's like saying lead can become gold if you put enough gold dust in it because it happened before, and someone said that. Silliest TedTalk, he surely doesn't deserve to argue quoting Jung.

  19. We chose, but we don't chose what makes us take a decision… I did chose to write this comment, but i didn't chose what made me want to write this comment.

    In other words, i didn't chose to write this comment.

  20. The messages in Stairway to a Heaven were intentionally placed there. It was intentional backmasking. It's really there.
    The "toolshed where he made us suffer" refers to the tool house at Boleskine House, which was owned buy Aleister Crowley and used for the purpose of conducting magic rituals. Jimmy Page purchased Boleskine house in 1970. This guy only thinks the backmasking in Stairway to Heaven is gibberish because he doesn't know what he's talking about. But the rest of the lecture was pretty good I guess. LOL

  21. Whoever was in charge of where the cameras (or the editing) were focused on needs to be fired and blacklisted. It sucks. Seriously. WTF?

  22. The people organizing these things should pay attention to the content! Us watching want to participate too!

  23. I don't agree with the bit about Led Zepplin. They made assumptions and projections before of the music.

  24. This was unwatchable due to phenomenally bad editing.

    The whole point of the talk was to show the audience the different says their brains could perceive what was on the presenter's slides. No one watching this video can do that. Why on earth did the editor think that we wanted to watch the audience? It seems that there was more footage of the audience than footage of what was happening on the stage.

    As far as I know, there is no YouTube video genre of "audience watching a speech". There is a reason for this. Who would want to watch it? Besides the editor of this video, I mean.

  25. if the unconscious mind puts together a fuzzy fast moving image into a clear picture, then how can there be myopia, or better, how can myopia an eye ball disease, not a brain dysfunction? Actually apply that to old age far-farsightedness and farsightedness.

  26. Oh
    Here's to my sweet Satan.

    The one whose little path
    would make me sad whose
    power is Satan.

    He'll give you, give you 666.

    There was a little toolshed where
    he made us suffer, sad Satan.

    (Hope this helps)

  27. What a shame. Interesting content, but the editor was so busy trying to make something artistic that he doesn't allow viewers to participate in what's going on by not showing the slides at appropriate times. I had to give up on this halfway through, because without the slides it hardly makes sense to watch.

  28. I don't think that this definition of unconscious is directly wrong with Freud's. Actually Freud didn't say it's formed by emotional causes. He based it on a difference between Triebe and representation by identification. In fact we can call preconscious a lot of phenomena had been shown. For instance, the situation with touches has not proven as an unconscious. Person could represent (or not) this detail (touch) as a cause of his behavior if we ask him kindly) Also in point of Lacan it may be compared with conception of Imaginaire: we see that keeps our reality whole.

  29. Unconscious is only learned things, habits, and the brain sending signals to organs and the rest of rhe body, and there is no conscious mind

  30. It’s working 100%
    When you tell someone they look pale, and they are sick
    They will physically react almost immediately
    But for me, it’s too hard. When my own parents tell me I am mentally challenged and they need to send me to ASYLUM. It’s way too hard to deal with.

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