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Chapter 6

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Western University
Psychology 1000

Chapter 6: States of Consciousness - Consciousness is defined as our moment-to-moment awareness of ourselves and our environment o Subjective and private: other people cannot know what reality is for you, nor you can enter into their experience o Dynamic (ever-changing): we experience consciousness as a continuously flowing stream of mental activity, rather than as disjointed perceptions and thoughts o Self-reflective and central to our sense of self: the mind is aware of its ‘own’ consciousness o Intimately connected with the process of selective attention: selective attention focuses on some stimuli to the exclusion of others Measuring States of Consciousness - Must operationally define private inner states in terms of measurable responses - Self-report o People describe their inner experiences o Offer the most direct insight into a person’s subjective experiences o Not always verifiable - Physiological o Establish correspondence between bodily states and mental processes o EEG recordings of brain activity help identify different stages of sleep o Objective, but not subjective - Behavioral o Objective, but still must infer the person’s state of mind Levels of Consciousness: Psychodynamic and Cognitive Perspectives - Freud proposed that the human mind consists of three levels of awareness o Conscious: contains thoughts, perceptions, and other mental events of which we currently aware o Preconscious: mental events are outside current awareness, but can easily be recalled under certain conditions o Unconscious: cannot be brought into conscious awareness under ordinary circumstances  Unacceptable urges, sexual drives, emotional conflict, etc - Behaviorists do not agree with Freud; they sought to explain behavior without invoking mental processes - Studies of placebo effects, split-brain patients, and subliminal perception suggest that mental processes can affect our behavior without conscious awareness The Cognitive Unconscious - Cognitive psychologists reject the notion of an unconscious mind o They view conscious and unconscious mental life as forms of information processing Controlled versus automatic processing - Controlled (effortful) processing: voluntary use of attention and conscious effort - Automat
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