You Know More Than You Know

By Jonah Lehrer, Wired

October 12, 2010

There’s a fascinating new paper in Psychological Science by the Dutch psychologist Ap Dijksterhuis on the virtues of unconscious thought when it comes to predicting the outcome of soccer matches. It turns out that the conscious brain – that rational voice in your head deliberating over the alternatives – gets in the way of expertise. Although we tend to think of experts as being weighted down by information, their intelligence dependent on a vast set of explicit knowledge, this experiment suggests that successful experts don’t consciously access these facts. When they evaluate a situation, they don’t systematically compare all the available soccer teams or analyze the relevant players. They don’t rely on elaborate spreadsheets or athletic statistics or long lists of pros and cons. Instead, Dijksterhuis’ study suggests that the best experts naturally depend on their unconscious mind, on that subterranean warehouse of feelings, hunches and instincts.

Read the article.

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