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The New Unconscious$
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Ran R. Hassin, James S. Uleman, and John A. Bargh

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195307696

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195307696.001.0001

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Compensatory Automaticity: Unconscious Volition Is Not an Oxymoron

Compensatory Automaticity: Unconscious Volition Is Not an Oxymoron

Chapter:
(p.171) 7 Compensatory Automaticity: Unconscious Volition Is Not an Oxymoron
Source:
The New Unconscious
Author(s):

Jack Glaser

John F. Kihlstrom

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195307696.003.0008

The concept of automaticity, long central in cognitive psychology, has come to occupy an important place in social psychology as well. It appears that unconscious vigilance for bias can lead to corrective processes that also operate without conscious awareness or intent. This chapter argues that the unconscious, in addition to being a passive categorizer, evaluator, and semantic processor, has processing goals (for example, accuracy, egalitarianism) of its own, can be vigilant for threats to the attainment of these goals, and will proactively compensate for such threats. One might call this “compensatory automaticity”: strategic yet nonconscious compensations for unintended thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. For some, this will pose a paradox because automaticity has been equated with lack of control or intent. This chapter entertains the possibility that intention operates at multiple levels of consciousness. There can be nonconscious intentions (for example, goals) that, when the potential for their imminent frustration becomes evident, automatic compensatory processes will promote and protect.

Keywords:   automaticity, cognitive psychology, social psychology, conscious awareness, intent, unconscious, compensatory automaticity, nonconscious compensations, consciousness, control

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