The unconscious thought effect and influence of emotion on complex decision task

Suyoung Kim and Kwang-Hee Han


Some recent studies have reported that decision is better when unconsciously thinking about one’s decisions than deliberation on complex task. This is explained by the low processing capacity of consciousness. But previous researches are insufficient to explain which factors reinforce the unconscious thought effect. This study intended to replicate the unconscious thought effect on complex decision task found by Dijksterhuis and to investigate whether the unconscious thought effect is influenced by emotion through decision making process. In this experiment, participants were randomly divided to three conditions. The three conditions were immediate condition, conscious thought condition and unconscious thought condition. Participants had to choose one of various alternatives with multiple attributes and then they had recognition test about various alternatives. The attributes were composed of sentences with emotion valence and without emotion valence. Participants in the immediate decision condition had to make a decision immediately after being presented with the options. Participants in the conscious thought condition had to think about options for 3 minutes before decision making. The others in the unconscious thought condition were distracted for 3minutes before decision making. The results of experiment couldn’t replicate the results of Dijksterhuis’s study; however, the participants in the unconscious thought condition tended to make a better decision than another conditions. The results of recognition test was not significant. For the future research, this experiment needs to be tested with more participants.