What is Consciousness Good For?

RSA Event

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Durham Street Auditorium, RSA House

  • Behaviour change
  • Social brain

 

How much of what we do is driven by the automatic and the unconscious? When should we bring conscious reasoning to bear? What kinds of tasks is consciousness good for?

Science has revealed that a surprising amount of our behaviour is driven by unconscious automatic systems in our brain. In fact, conscious thinking can sometimes get in the way of smooth performance. A contrasting body of results shows that our fast automatic thinking can be highly error-prone. For some problems, only slow deliberate reasoning delivers the right answer. When, then, should we bring conscious reasoning to bear? What kinds of tasks is it especially good for?

An innovative AHRC-funded project has been tackling these questions by bringing philosophy together with psychology and neuroscience, gathering new data and developing a novel theoretical framework.

In this special event at the RSA, you will experience for yourself what it’s like to take part in one of these experiments, and be the first to hear about the early results of the project. 

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