Chapter 5 Consciousness
-Aperson's subjective experience of the world and the mind.
The Mysteries of Consciousness
- How things seems to the conscious person, in their understanding of mind and behaviour.
The Problem of Other Minds
- The fundamental difficulty we have in perceiving the consciousness of others.
- The problem of other minds also means there is no way you can tell if another person's
experience of anything is at all like yours.
- The problem of other minds is a problem for psychological science.
The Mind/Body Problem
- The issue of how the mind is related to the brain and body.
- French philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes is famous for proposing that the human
body is a machine made of physical matter but that the human mind or soul is a separate entity
made of a “thinking substance.” He suggested that the mind has its effects on the brain and body
through the pineal gland, a small structure located near the centre of the brain.
Four Basic Properties
- The first property of consciousness is intentionality, the quality of being directed toward an
- The second basic property of consciousness is unity, or resistance to division. This property
becomes clear when you try to attend to more than one thing at a time.
- The third property of consciousness is selectivity, the capacity to include some objects but not
others. This property is is shown through studies of dichotic listening, in which people wearing
headphones are presented with different messages in each ear. The conscious system is most
inclined to select information of special interest to the person. For example, in what has come
known as the cocktail party phenomenon, people tune in one message even while they filter out
others nearby. Selectivity is not only a property of waking consciousness, however; the mind
works this way in other states.
- The fourth and final basic property of consciousness is transience, or the tendency to change.
The stream of consciousness may flow in this way partly because of the limited capacity of the
conscious mind. We humans can hold only so much information in mind, after all, so when
more information is selected, some of what is currently there must disappear.As a result, our
focus of attention keeps changing.
Levels of Consciousness
- can also be understood as having levels, ranging from minimal consciousness to full
consciousness to self-consciousness.
- is consciousness that occurs when the mind inputs sensations and may input behaviour. This
level of consciousness is a kind of sensory awareness and responsiveness.
- is that you know and are able to report your mental state. It involves a certain consciousness of oneself; the person notices the self in a particular mental state.
- is a distinct level of consciousness in which the person's attention is drawn to the self as an
object. Self-consciousness beings with it a tendency to evaluate yourself and notice your your
Experience sampling technique
- people are asked to report their conscious experiences at particular times.
- the attempt to change conscious states of mind
- the conscious avoidance of a thought
Rebound effect of a thought suppression
- the tendency of a though to return to consciousness with greater frequency following
Ironic processes of mental control
- ironic errors occur because the mental process that monitors errors can itself produce them.
The ironic monitoring process is not present in consciousness.
- The ironic monitor is a process of the mind that works outside of consciousness, making us
sensitive to all the things we do not want to think, feel, or do so that we can notice and
consciously take steps to regain control if these things come back to mind.
- Ironic processes are mental functions that are needed for effective mental control-they help in
the process of banishing a thought from consciousness-but they sometimes yield the very failure
they seem designed to overcome.
- Ironic effects of mental control arise from processes that work outside of consciousness, so
they remind us that much of the mind's machinery may be hidden from our view, lying outside
the fringes of our experience.
- an active system encompassing a lifetime of hidden memories, the person's deepest instincts
and desires, and the person's inner struggle to control these forces.
- a mental process that removes unacceptable thoughts and memories from consciousness and
keeps them in the unconscious. Without repression, a person might think, do, or say every
unconscious impulse, no matter how selfish or immoral. With repression, these desires are held
in the recesses of the dynamic unconscious.
AModern View of the Cognitive Unconscious
- The mental processes that give rise to a person's thoughts, choices, emotions, and behavior
even though they are not experienced by the person.
- One indication of the cognitive unconscious at work is when the person's thought or behavior
is changed by exposure to information outside of consciousness.
-Athought or behavior that is influenced by stimuli that a person cannot consciously report
perceiving. Subliminal perception does occur, but the degree of influence it has on behavior is
not very large. Sleep and Dreaming: Good Night, Mind
Altered states of consciousness
- Forms of experience that depart from the normal subjective experience of the world and the
- Such alter states can be accompanied by changes in thinking, disturbances in the sense of time,
feelings of the loss of control, changes in emotional expression, alterations in body image and
sense of self, perceptual distortions, and changes in meaning or significance.
- The world of sleep and dreams, provides two unique perspectives on consciousness: a view of
the mind without consciousness and a view of consciousness in an altered state.
- presleep consciousness
- a sudden quiver or sensation of dropping, as though missing a step on a staircase
- postsleep consciousness
- The sequence of events that occur during a night or sleep is part of one of the major rhythms
of human life, the cycle of sleep and waking.
- a naturally occurring 24-hour cycle
- during waking, changes involve alternation between high-frequency activity (called beta
waves) during alertness and lower-frequency activity (alpha waves) during relaxation.
- in the first stage of sleep, the EEG moves to frequency patterns even lower than alpha waves
- in the second stage of sleep, these patterns are interrupted by short bursts of activity called
sleep spindles and K complexes, and the sleep becomes somewhat more difficult to awaken.
- the deepest stages of sleep are 3 and 4, known as slow-wave sleep, in which the EEG patterns
show activity called delta waves.
- during the fifth sleep stage, REM stage, a stage of sleep characterized by rapid eye movements
and a high level of brain activity, EEG patterns become high-frequency sawtooth waves, similar
to beta waves, suggesting that the mind at this time is as active as it is during waking. Using a
electrooculograph ( EOG), a device to measure eye movements, during sleep, researchers found
that sleepers wakened during REM periods reported having dreams much more often than those
wakened during non-REM periods. During REM sleep, the pulse quickens, blood pressure rises,
and there are telltale signs of sexual arousals.At the same time, measurements of muscle
movements indicate that the sleeper is very still, except for a rapid side-to-side movement of the
- difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep
- there are many causes of insomnia, including anxiety associated with stressful life events, so
insomnia may sometimes be a sign of other emotional difficulties.
- The quality of sleep achieved with pill may not be as high as without, and there may be side
effects such as grogginess and irritability during the day. Finally, stopping the treatment
suddenly can produce insomnia that is worse than before. Sleep apnea
- a disorder in which the person stops breathing for brief periods while asleep+
- a person with apnea usually snores, as apnea involves an involuntary obstruction of the
- therapies involving weight loss, drugs, or surgery may solve this problem.
- occurs when the person arises and walks around while asleep
- sleepwalking is not usually linked to any additional problems and is only problematic in that
sleepwalkers can hurt themselves.
- a disorder in which sudden sleep attacks occur in the middle of waking activities
- narcolepsy involves the intrusion of a dreaming state of sleep (with REM) into waking an