Before You Know It: The Unconscious Reasons We Do What We Do by John A. Bargh

Before You Know It: The Unconscious Reasons We Do What We Do

Dr. John Bargh, the world’s leading expert on the unconscious mind, presents a groundbreaking book, twenty years in the making, which gives us an entirely new understanding of the hidden mental processes that secretly govern every aspect of our behavior.For more than three decades, Dr. John Bargh has been responsible for the revolutionary research into the unconscious mind...

Title:Before You Know It: The Unconscious Reasons We Do What We Do
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Before You Know It: The Unconscious Reasons We Do What We Do Reviews

  • Rbarfuss

    I first learned of Bargh when one of his experiments was used by a behavioural economist. I dug up a couple of his studies and found his work to be very interesting. I was excited to learn that he had recently written a book - and I was not disappointed. He references some of his studies in the past to support his thoughts. This is not an academic book, but it was very entertaining, and gave me a couple of insights into other areas. I think he'd be proud that his book helped me to release some o

    I first learned of Bargh when one of his experiments was used by a behavioural economist. I dug up a couple of his studies and found his work to be very interesting. I was excited to learn that he had recently written a book - and I was not disappointed. He references some of his studies in the past to support his thoughts. This is not an academic book, but it was very entertaining, and gave me a couple of insights into other areas. I think he'd be proud that his book helped me to release some of my unconscious mind to solve some problems.

  • Daniel Palevski

    Great collection of research findings - 'a life's work' as he puts it himself at the end - of the author's findings regarding the strengths (and weaknesses) of the unconscious.

    Well put together, easy to read, with some fairly entertaining anecdotes throughout.

    My favorite and most powerful takeaway from this book - while your conscious mind is largely responsible for a lot of things that we would describe as 'executive functions' (talking, making appointments, eating) our unconscious is responsi

    Great collection of research findings - 'a life's work' as he puts it himself at the end - of the author's findings regarding the strengths (and weaknesses) of the unconscious.

    Well put together, easy to read, with some fairly entertaining anecdotes throughout.

    My favorite and most powerful takeaway from this book - while your conscious mind is largely responsible for a lot of things that we would describe as 'executive functions' (talking, making appointments, eating) our unconscious is responsible for our heavy duty thinking - connecting the dots and finding emerging patterns.

  • Tl Wagener

    I'm always fascinated by the workings of the human mind and psyche, and so this piqued my interest at the library. It is a wonderful record of many, many academic social experiments over the years, with the results -- which are almost always presented as "surprising." I ended up skimming after several pages, though, because I felt I'd be just as educated with bullet points. I reckon the author used research assistants a great deal to write this -- there are many more words than necessary. I beca

    I'm always fascinated by the workings of the human mind and psyche, and so this piqued my interest at the library. It is a wonderful record of many, many academic social experiments over the years, with the results -- which are almost always presented as "surprising." I ended up skimming after several pages, though, because I felt I'd be just as educated with bullet points. I reckon the author used research assistants a great deal to write this -- there are many more words than necessary. I became nostalgic for Oliver Sacks, who wrote about cases in clear neat prose while also offering up parts of his personality.

    Perhaps this was from lectures? I couldn't figure it out. I understand it is the author's life work, but detailing every study (some results of which I thought were obvious) just wasn't as interesting to me as I expected. Concocting a study to test a certain hypothesis is a creative and imaginative exercise, but I didn't feel a part of things.

    I feel less would have been more here. (What did the editor do?) I couldn't get through it.

  • Betsy

    Very interesting! Some fascinating studies described, and also practical ways to apply the science to your life.

  • Sharon

    Dr. Bargh explains how various factors influence our behavior. I wish I had read this while still in the classroom. Our conscious thoughts and unconscious motives work together to promote our behavior.

  • Peter A.  van Tilburg

    Bargh gives an interesting overview of much research with regard to the unconscious. It is nice to read who he uses his research findings in his personal life. His epiphany on the unconscious which comes first before the conscious seems simple and logic but most findings seem so in hindsight. He describes how the past influences the subconscious by the cultural and family values and that experiences you have effect you in what comes afterwards (‘life lingers’). Then he moves to how the present i

    Bargh gives an interesting overview of much research with regard to the unconscious. It is nice to read who he uses his research findings in his personal life. His epiphany on the unconscious which comes first before the conscious seems simple and logic but most findings seem so in hindsight. He describes how the past influences the subconscious by the cultural and family values and that experiences you have effect you in what comes afterwards (‘life lingers’). Then he moves to how the present influences the subconscious as a continuous evaluation works in our subconscious signaling ‘good or bad’ ‘yes or no’ ‘stay or go’. Nice is the description on when to trust your gut: if there is time use your conscious thinking; when there is no time don’t take too much risk; when there is complexity and many factors involved take your gut more seriously; when you can trust your gut be careful what you wish for; when initial gut to race is negative don’t trust it; do not trust on facial ordeal; these last two stems from long past experiences; trust your gut of other people only after you have seen them in action; attraction is OK in the romantic equation but not the only thing. Some of these point seem to me quite obvious. Last here people mirror behavior. He moves on to the future mainly focussing how goals an intentions can be settled in our life by making them a routine (which is steered subconsciously) and so helps to realize them. You can ‘use’ your subconscious big capacity by consciously describing a problem or issue you want to tackle as clearly and concrete as possible and subsequently take time and relax and let your subconscious do the work and give you the solution.

  • Lindsey Garrett

    really enjoyed this book! It was easy to follow and I really enjoyed the progression of it. the last chapter was definitely my favorite and have me some good takeaways to apply.

  • Irfan

    One of the best books on brain and how it works.

  • Joan

    We would like to think we are in control of all our actions. Bargh shows that our past, present and future deeply influence our behavior, our choices, and our likes and dislikes, “before we know it.” (Loc 4555/7037) Our experiences influence us. Those with whom we are interacting elicit a mirroring behavior from us. Our goals, dreams, and needs color what we like, what we pay attention to, even what we buy. There is much more going on in our unconscious than we realized.

    I learned a great deal fo

    We would like to think we are in control of all our actions. Bargh shows that our past, present and future deeply influence our behavior, our choices, and our likes and dislikes, “before we know it.” (Loc 4555/7037) Our experiences influence us. Those with whom we are interacting elicit a mirroring behavior from us. Our goals, dreams, and needs color what we like, what we pay attention to, even what we buy. There is much more going on in our unconscious than we realized.

    I learned a great deal form this book. I have always been fascinated with the complexities of why we do what we do. This book explained much. Bargh takes us through many studies but does it in a readable and understandable way. I liked his historical review, taking us through behaviorism, then cognitive psychology, and then the new studies that show we are born with unconscious mental abilities. I now know there is a constant play of the conscious and unconscious as I live my life. I learned about how I got my opinions, some from infancy and others from culture.

    Bargh encourages readers in the end. We can use these unconscious processes to our advantage. He sort of tosses will power on its head, showing how we can do things better utilizing our automatic and habitual behavior. “As we learn more about the unconscious influences on our mind, we can use that knowledge to make positive differences in our lives.” (Loc 1898/7037)

  • John Hicks

    Miss this book and miss what you are and have been and ever can be. Ten years in the making, summarizes all that Kahneman and Tversky and others have taught in recent decades about where our decisions are conscious (rarely) and where they are unconscious (mostly). Much of the research was done by Bargh and his teams. This is not merely popularization of the findings of others. Even after Taleb and Kahneman this book is a shocker. Our liking for someone is different if the drink in our hand is co

    Miss this book and miss what you are and have been and ever can be. Ten years in the making, summarizes all that Kahneman and Tversky and others have taught in recent decades about where our decisions are conscious (rarely) and where they are unconscious (mostly). Much of the research was done by Bargh and his teams. This is not merely popularization of the findings of others. Even after Taleb and Kahneman this book is a shocker. Our liking for someone is different if the drink in our hand is cold rather than hot. Ouch! Yet there are some hopeful methods near the end for aligning our conscious and unconscious thinking and tapping rather than fighting the great power of the unconscious. What a long and disastrously wrong tradition is here overthrown: we are more than and less than merely our reasoning minds. J M Coetzee knew, in his ingenious Lives of Animals. Speaking as Doris Costello: "Saint Thomas’s argument that, because man alone is made in the image of God and partakes in the being of God, how we treat animals is of no importance except insofar as being cruel to animals may accustom us to being cruel to men. I could ask what Saint Thomas takes to be the being of God, to which he will reply that the being of God is reason. Likewise Plato, likewise Descartes, in their different ways. The universe is built upon reason. God is a God of reason. The fact that through the application of reason we can come to understand the rules by which the universe works proves that reason and the universe are of the same being. And the fact that animals, lacking reason, cannot understand the universe but have simply to follow its rules blindly, proves that, unlike man, they are part of it but not part of its being: that man is godlike, animals thinglike." No, our big brains only deceive us all the better. An animals is nearer the truth. It cannot lie. It is not forever at war with the unconscious mind that is the better wiser surer part of any living thing. What is reason? A public relations machine. A press secretary. Bargh may be all you need to reason yourself free of reason's endless publicity tour.

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