Definition Essay-Nicole Clark

Unconscious Thought

The thesis I have chosen to use in my essay relates to the fact that unconscious thought (sleeping) will help an individual make better quality decisions. I would like to focus on the definition of “unconscious thought” and how it contributes in decision making. I would also like to focus on the importance of automatic weighting and how the unconscious mind relates to it. In many articles, it is stated that important decisions are made when the mind is not thinking about other problems and decisions in their lives. Giving the mind a chance to weigh the pros and cons of a situation is vital in the decision making process. Unconscious thought is relevant in good decision making and can help create a better outcome in the end.

Many people may contemplate that the best approach to making choices should be based off of their first instinct. A large amount of people believe that making an important decision based off of their gut decisions are considered the best method of coming to conclusions. It is surprising for many people to believe that sleeping is the best way to solve a problem instead of making the decision being completely wide awake. Using the unconscious thought is considered the best way to make a quality decision. The unconscious mind is given a chance to make the decision using all of the information it can provide regarding the problem to make the outcome the best is can possibly be.
When dealing with facts regarding unconscious thought, it is stated that sleeping on hard decisions allows the unconscious mind to weigh the pros and cons of an issue. Sleeping also gives the mind a chance to focus on the main decision that needs to be made. The thoughts and memories in the brain allow the unconscious mind to factor the important facts regarding the issue. Thinking about the decision too much could end in a negative result. When an individual is asleep, all other problems are put off to the side so the mind can focus on one decision and one decision only. This result in a better quality decision when the unconscious mind uses all it can to make the outcome the best it can possibly be.

There are many articles and studies done to prove that unconscious thought is better for decision making. For example, an experiment was conducted dealing with cars and the decision of choosing which car each individual wanted. Many people were chosen to pick a car off of their first instinct and what they thought they wanted. Others were told to go home and sleep on the decision. When these people returned, most of them chose the better “quality cars”. It was stated that sleep improved their decision and helped them weigh the pros and cons of each car. Another experiment was done regarding the result of soccer matches. The conscious and unconscious thinkers were told to watch the soccer game for twenty seconds. The conscious thinkers had an extra two minutes to make their decision while the unconscious thinkers were told to do something else for two minutes. The results were stated that the unconscious thinkers made better predictions of the outcomes of the matches. These results indicated that the unconscious thinkers used better information to make decisions regarding the outcomes of the matches. A third experiment involved choosing the best out of twelve apartments. The thinkers were given six rules to abide by when making their decision. They were each given four minutes to choose an apartment. In the end, the conscious thinkers abided by the rules seventy-five percent of the time and selected the best apartment twenty-nine percent of the time. The unconscious mind was not used in this experiment, but the outcomes would have been positive if they were used.

In the Journal of Consumer Psychology, it is stated that the unconscious thought leads to automatic weighting whereas the conscious thought receives a far less amount of weight. The article describes how the weighting process is better when other issues and facts are put to the side. It is easier to make a decision and weigh the pros and cons of an issue when other problems are not thought of thoroughly when making this one decision. Different attributes are needed in the process of decision making and the importance of these attributes is not usually taken into consideration. Not many people use the negative and positive attributes in their decision making process. Also, many people make decisions very quickly and rush to come to a conclusion when they should be weighing the positive and negative outcomes of the problem.

Unconscious thought is actually very hard to define. Some may define it as sleeping or when the mind is asleep. Or others may define it as when the mind reviews all of the information from the day that has just occurred. The mind works in mysterious ways which makes it hard to define specifically. Using the experiments and studies that were conducted to prove that unconscious thought helps make better quality decisions it is easier to prove that unconscious thought is very important. It may be hard to define, but it is overall very important in the decision making process.
For example, first instinct decisions could cause spur of the moment behavior, which one may regret later after waiting a day or two and analyzing the situation as a whole. Things may be done out of anger, pain, or hurt, and may not be rational. Giving yourself time to think about the situation and seeing what your best option is, is a more rational approach. Making a quick decision and acting out on a limb, may make the situation more intense and worse overall. Sleeping on it and allowing yourself time to talk to others will give you opinions of an outsider and allow you to see your situation from a different perspective. Never make a foolish decision, without giving yourself time to actually look at the problem and analyze it piece by piece.


“HBR Blog Network.” Harvard Business Review. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2013.

PACE-SCHOTT E, NAVE G, MORGAN A, SPENCER R. Sleep-dependent modulation of affectively guided decision-making. Journal Of Sleep Research [serial online]. February 2012;21(1):30-39. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed April 2, 2013.

“The Benefits of “sleeping on Things”: Unconscious Thought Leads to Automatic Weighting.” N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2013.

“Why ‘Sleeping on It’ Helps.” N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2013.

“Why “Sleeping on It” Will Help You Make a Better Decision.” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2013.

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2 Responses to Definition Essay-Nicole Clark

  1. davidbdale says:

    Hey, Nicole!
    I’m glad to see a detailed Works Cited.
    As you may recall, I’ll be making comments paragraph by paragraph as I read your argument, so you’ll get “live” feedback from a critical reader (some would say too critical).

    P1. Readers will not sit still for your “practice swings,” Nicole. Save your “I would like to focus” comments for conversations between yourself and your professor. Once you sit down to write, you have a conversation with your reader, who is not me. (For the record, even I’m not interested in what you “would like to focus on.” I just want to hear your arguments-in-progress so I can react to them and guide you.)

    Your essay should begin in the immediate vicinity of: Important decisions are made when the mind is distracted. (It’s crucial that you correct your error in this sentence: you say “when the mind is not thinking about other problems, which can’t be right.)

    By naming the functions of the mind as you have—and without explicitly explaining to your reader that you were defining anything—your last few sentences do a good job of defining “sleeping on it.” The more you can do that—build an essay out of bold, clear claims—the more likely it is your essay would be read by anyone other than me. (I mean, I have to, but write as if your reader was not obligated to read you.)

    P2. Please make me happy another way too, Nicole. Instead of:

    Many people may contemplate that the best approach to making choices should be based off of their first instinct.


    Common knowledge says snap decisions are the best.

    • Then apply that lesson everywhere.
    • Fails for Grammar Rule 5.
    • Never ever ever say “based off of.”
    • Delete your second sentence, which is a 100% repetition of your first sentence.

    Let me add a few words to the model sentence above that will replace your third sentence:

    Common knowledge says snap decisions are the best, so it’s surprising to learn that literally “sleeping on them” is so effective.

    Explaining after that, as you do, that the unconscious mind processes what the conscious mind cannot, is just the right note at the right time. Notice that, again, without having to explain what you’re doing, you’re defining what it means to “sleep on” a decision.

    P3. You have to stop saying, in order:

    • in many articles it is stated
    • many people may contemplate
    • decisions are considered
    • it is surprising for many to believe
    • unconscious thought is considered the best way
    • it is stated

    A phrase like “common knowledge” is one good way to avoid all these nameless attributions of your ideas to other people. Another is to actually cite the source of your found knowledge. There’s no shame in depending on sources, Nicole; in fact, it’s good evidence that you’ve done the research for a research paper!

    Trim P3 by at least 25%. It’s way wordy.

    P4. What’s the best way to get rid of an entirely extraneous sentence like your first? Lose it completely. But if you want to save the idea that studies are multiple, try this:

    One of many experiments into unconscious decision making tested whether people chose better cars impulsively or after sleeping on their choice.

    This one sentence does most of the work of your first four. If you wanted to incorporate the fifth sentence too, you’d say:

    One of many experiments into unconscious decision making concluded that people who slept on their choice chose better cars than those who chose impulsively.

    Fails for Grammar Rule 7.
    Substitute a nice informal citation for “It was stated.”

    See if you can streamline the methodology and conclusions of the second experiment using the model above.

    Your conclusion that “the unconscious mind . . . would have” improved the results is a little shaky. I like the boldness though.

    P4. I don’t understand the first sentence at all. Automatic weighting versus manual weighting I would understand. Weighs more heavily versus weighs less heavily I would understand. What’s being compared here?

    This paragraph begs for cows and chips. I can’t understand it without an illustration.

    P5. Don’t complain, Nicole. It’s not hard to define. By the time you get here, you’ll have made it look easy. Other people get confused, but you have provided the simple solution that clarifies the concept for them.The process may be complicated, but its value and the bold strokes of its process are all we need to know about for the purpose of your essay.

    P6. Fails for Grammar Rule 12. Cows and chips would help here too, Nicole. Instead of resorting to 2nd person lecturing of your reader, describe the person who allows himself to be distracted by his emotions and ends up with a flashy but inefficient gas-burner of a car that he instantly regrets. Etc.

    For your Works Cited, go back and mention the specific sources informally inside your text, in sentences that say, for instance, “Pace-Schott, Morgan, and Spencer’s study of the car-buying process proved the value of ignoring emotions.”

    I’d love to know if you find these comments useful, Nicole, and not merely annoying. Please respond, and also, be prepared to share with your classmates in class today whatever lessons you have learned from this feedback. Thanks.

  2. clarkn92 says:

    Thanks Professor Hodges ! These tips are really helpful. I will be sure to fix them in my essay and use them in my final paper. The feedback regarding my grammar is extremely helpful due to the fact I have struggle with it in many of my essays. Overall, I will take this into consideration and be sure to fix this essay. Thanks again !

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