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Some Complex Decisions Are Better Made Unconsciously


Your conscious mind can only manipulate a very limited number of chunks of information in working memory.  It has limited processing capacity.  This is not the case for the unconscious mind.  It is a massive parallel processing machine that performs amazing feats that we have not yet been able to replicate with computers.  The unconscious mind also has a much higher processing speed than the conscious mind.  Scientists have estimated the bits-per-second of each, but I can’t remember where I’ve read them or what the numbers were.  I do remember the conscious mind’s processing powers were tiny in comparison.


As strange and counter-intuitive as it may sound, this means that decisions in which a large number of variables or units of data must be compared and manipulated are going to overwhelm the limited capacity of your conscious mind.  The general rule then is to leave the more complex decisions, those with a lot of variables, to the power of your unconscious mind.  Simpler serial or logical decisions with fewer variables are better suited to the conscious reasoning process.


The last time I bought a car I thought my head was going to explode.  I kept trying to decide between two cars that both had their different advantages and disadvantages.  It was difficult to compare the weight of the various factors, and there were simply too many variables for me to get a clear handle on what to do.  I finally went with the gut feeling I had been having all along and I never have regretted it.


An Experiment in Choosing the Best Apartment

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