In the world of business, companies usually follow a structured approach to making decisions. Similarly, as individuals, we also apply a deliberate decision-making process on occasion. Specifically, this is when our conscious mind takes the lead, gathering information, analyzing it, and reaching well-informed conclusions. However, we also make decisions unconsciously. Surprisingly, often these decisions turn out to be beneficial. In this article, I’ll examine the role our consciousness has in decision-making. Also, I’ll share examples of how we rely on our conscious minds for making informed choices.
First, What Is Consciousness?
If you are looking for a complete and settled answer on what consciousness is and how it operates, I do not think you will find the answer here or anywhere else. Wikipedia sums up well where we are with understanding consciousness.
“Consciousness, at its simplest, is sentience and awareness of internal and external existence. However, its nature has led to millennia of analyses, explanations and debates by philosophers, theologians, linguists, and scientists.
Opinions differ about what exactly needs to be studied or even considered consciousness. In some explanations, it is synonymous with the mind, and at other times, an aspect of mind. In the past, it was one’s “inner life”, the world of introspection, of private thought, imagination and volition. Today, it often includes any kind of cognition, experience, feeling or perception. It may be awareness, awareness of awareness, or self-awareness either continuously changing or not. The disparate range of research, notions and speculations raises a curiosity about whether the right questions are being asked.”Wikipedia
The Role Of Consciousness In Making Decisions.
Also, there is a lot of debate on the relationship between consciousness and human decision-making. However, based on our unique experiences, I think we can all agree we make conscious and unconscious decisions. In regard to conscious decision-making, I think Uwe Meixner, a German philosopher, says it well:
“For making an informed decision, the self needs to be conscious of the facts relevant to the decision prior to making the decision…”
So, when we use our conscious mind, we deliberately gather information and then go through an analytical process to make a decision. As part of this conscious, analytical process, we weigh options in regard to their risks and rewards. As a result, we make a decision. In many cases, a conscious decision-maker requires courage as they are aware of the risks, but choose to move forward anyway.
On the other hand by its very nature, an unconscious decision does not use the conscious mind to deliberate. Thus, our conscious mind is not aware of the information going into the decision, nor aware of the process taken to make the decision. Further, the decision-maker cannot justify their decision, nor did they expend any courage to make the decision. They just did it! Neverless, in a lot of cases this unconscious decision-making can result in good decisions.
Examples Of How Our Conscious Mind Deliberates In The Decision-Making Process
Now, let’s examine how the conscious mind goes about decision-making. Unquestionably, when we use our consciousness for decision-making it is a very deliberate process. First, we use our attention to gather, sift, and prioritize information. Next, our conscious mind leads the decision-making process to analyze the information, and finally make a decision. Below are some examples of how our conscious mind carefully and deliberately makes decisions.
1. The Interaction Between Our Consciousness And Our Attention.
Our attention is like a spotlight, working with our consciousness to highlight what is most important or relevant. For example, if you’re driving on a busy highway, your attention will be focused on the road and surrounding cars, while other sensory input, like the music playing on the radio or the conversation in the car, may fade into the background.
2. Our Real-Time Attention Prevents Information Overload.
In another example, our real-time attention prevents information from overloading our consciousness. If you’re trying to follow a conversation in a noisy environment, your attention will focus on the speaker’s voice and the words they’re saying. Thus, you filter out other sounds and conversations happening around you. This allows your consciousness to process the information you’re receiving without becoming overwhelmed.
3. Our Consciousness Collects The Relevant Information, Analyzes It, and Makes Decisions.
For example, think about a time when you had to make a decision between two options. Your consciousness will process the information about each option, weigh the pros and cons, and ultimately make a decision based on the information available.
4. Our Consciousness Uses Its Conscience To Make Decisions.
Our conscience uses a variety of criteria in making decisions to include using some form of moral code (what is right and what is wrong). For example, take the case of stealing. If one of your options in a given decision is to steal, but you have a moral code to not steal, you will probably not select stealing as an option.
“The whole interest of my reason, whether speculative or practical, is concentrated in the three following questions: What can I know? What should I do? What may I hope?”Immanuel Kant
For more details on how your conscience, thinking mind operates, see Scholarpedia’s Attention And Conscious and BrianTracy’s Understanding Your Conscious Mind. Also, for more on decision-making, see my article, A Superior Problem Solving Process: How To Produce Better Results.
For more articles from Unvarnished Facts, see our latest topics on decision-making.
Writer and Supply Chain Tech Expert. Passionate about giving actionable insights on information technology, business, innovation, creativity, and life in general.