Subliminal By Leonard Mlodinow

Subliminal, How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior, by Leonard Mlodinow is a fabulous exploration of our subconscious mind and how it drives us. Amazingly, a lot of people are quick to dismiss the power of suggestions and hidden messages because they don’t understand that our brains process information even when we aren’t consciously aware. Our fears and our motivations fight each other at this level, and they can sabotage us if we are not taking stock of our emotions and crises.

From the impacts of touch when tipping to how your voices change depending on whether we feel dominant or not, this book recounts several studies from around the globe that explain how mental and physical queues help humans navigate our surroundings and our relationships. As our unconscious process the nuances of speech and facial expressions, our conscious uses the results to guide our responses and body language. This is one of the main reasons mothers are so good at reading their children, and why your partner can guess how you are truly feeling even when you say you are fine.

Between genetics, theory of mind (ToM) and instinct, our brain intuitively gives direction and lets us know how to behave. Although sometimes it betrays us by letting others feel the opposite of what we are communicating, like the example above, the unconscious mind is always looking out for our best interest. It is the one thing it knows how to do very well. Trusting ourselves can be difficult if our unconscious mind is not in tune with our goals and aspirations.

I’m enjoying the science and name throwing that the author employs to get his theories through to us, especially the insight and observations about how experiments repeated worldwide have given us a better grasp on how perception makes us decide who is the best political candidate or mate. It seems looks and appearances do matter even if we don’t consciously take then into consideration! Sometimes the most competent looking person earns a nomination or a seat in Congress even when they have proven to not have the right stuff to lead. Makes you wonder how many times you may have been overlooked because someone appeared to be a better fit based on perception alone!

This title is a must read for anyone attempting to gain knowledge in the field of psychology and social sciences. Human interactions are always a fascinating subject especially if you are dating or trying to learn how to relate better with your clan. By the end of the book you will feel better about those choices you couldn’t explain and you may find out, through introspection, what ideas and values may be directing your thinking. Take your time through it, you never know what ulterior subliminal message may be in store for you inside the pages. (Just kidding. Or am I?)

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