Be Conscious about Unconsciousness

The idea of this blog stroke my mind the second I got the result from the implicit bias test (https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/selectatest.html). For some of the implicit biases, I got pretty strong biases on some of the categories that I do not think I have biases on. The experience of taking the test also showed me how the feeling is when one acting follow an instinct that he/she cannot resist. Combining this experience with the reading about “The Hidden Brain”, I’m convinced that there is a great part of unconsciousness of my brain. Accept the existence of the unconsciousness leaves me a question about how should I get along with it.

Obviously, the unconsciousness is not a thing that we can fight with since it is actually part of ourselves that formed possibly by the culture, family, values, and status of us as we grow up. However, it is probably neither a good thing that we cut it loose and let it form us. Therefore, not only accept the unconsciousness, we should keep conscious about when we are leading by the unconsciousness intend to control the consequence of it.

I also figure the awareness of unconsciousness could also be the starting point for me open up to diversity. By reading news, I find out that sometimes the reasons for one group of people dislike the others are completely irrational, in contrast, the reasons are always merely feelings coming from their instincts. “I just don’t like blablabla..” they probably may say. If we can be conscious of our instincts and be retrospective about the feelings, we may become more open-minded to a diversity of cultures and people and easier agree with disagreements. Borrow the argument mentioned in the article “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter” (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-diversity-makes-us-smarter/?wt.mc=SA_Facebook-Share): Diversity increase creativity. The argument makes our awareness of our unconsciousness the stepping stone of better group learning and teamwork as individuals in a group.

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8 thoughts on “Be Conscious about Unconsciousness

  1. After reading your blog I took the IAT test you linked. I found it funny, that I ended up having a strong bias against a group of people that i have never interacted with (or lived on the same continent for that matter). If anything I would associate the results of my test to unconscious biases that are picked up through pop culture, media, and movies. However, if confronted with a real life situation i think (or at least would like to think) that I would be more mature and vigilant before jumping to conclusions based on bias. I do agree that unconscious biases exist, and i would go even further and say that people cannot be totally unbiased. The important thing is to recognize our biases and not let them cloud our judgment.

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    1. Hey Qishen,
      I can see you thinking through your unconscious bias in your post. It is something that I think we all wrestle with, and it is important to remain open and mindful about our bias. Consciously working on your unconscious self is a huge takeaway point! Once we know our bias, we can work on them to grow as people who are more understanding, inclusive, and better equipped to tackle the tough problems facing humanity.

      Hi Remy,
      Yeah, those implicit bias tests can be surprising. I like the activity because it exposes us to ideas/notions that perhaps we weren’t even aware existed within us at all. I agree that we can’t let our biases cloud our judgement, but I would also say that once we know our bias, that there is a certain level of responsibility to explore them and work to re-educate ourselves to disrupt those biases.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. First, I LOVE your title. Very on point! I too wonder what is means to be conscious about my unconscious. How conscious can we get before we just stop talking and sit quietly judging every thing that comes into our head? I really like how you talk about trying to “get along” with your unconscious and not “cut it loose” or “let it form us.” It seems like we have to constantly be self-reflecting. Ultimately, your post really made me think about how meditation could play very valuable role in the struggle. Cheers!

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  3. Great title! My thinking is a bit different. I think we can’t be conscious about unconsciousness, but we can find out our unconsciousness, e.g. through the test as you mentioned, and transform the unconsciousness into conscious.

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  4. I think your post here is really interesting– it touches on a number of facets of the role of the unconsciousness and implicit bias. While I agree with most of your points, your statement, “the unconsciousness is not a thing that we can fight with since it is actually part of ourselves that formed possibly by the culture, family, values, and status of us as we grow up” got me thinking… Is the unconsciousness truly something that is only formed in childhood? Given that people can grow and change in drastic ways at any point in their life, I can’t help but think that the unconsciousness, like the rest of what makes us “us,” is something more fluid… ever changing and adapting to the world around us. However, because it is “unconscious,” I agree that it’s difficult to change to do much about… But, as you note, the first step is awareness– just knowing that these biases exist. And maybe, just maybe, if we’re aware of the biases we have, we can slowly change our own minds and our own unconsciousness about things to become less biased.

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  5. I too found those same articles interesting. I wonder how we can overcome unconscious bias, if it is in fact unintentional. Can we train our mind to react or perceive things differently? I am not sure, but I do think about this. I agree that just being aware of unconsciousness as it relates to bias is good place to start. While it may not change anything right away, it can’t hurt to think about it.

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  6. I agree with you that first step is always to be aware of our unconscious biases. It is pressing because the implication of biases in academia, unsurprisingly, can often lead us to have a much skewed distribution of people of same categories and may lead to lack of innovation. I agree with Sara, it is our responsibility to be conscious of biases and make conscious effort to get rid of those.

    Cool title!

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  7. Great blog post! I agree that the unconscious is something that absolutely needs to be addressed in terms of diversity. I was particularly struck about the unconscious with discussions of implicit bias and police officers in connection with police profiling and police violence when the Black Lives Matter movement first emerged. While as teachers we are not armed in similar ways to police officers, we do have a tremendous amount of power within the classroom, and we must be aware of our unconscious perspectives and biases in order to teach carefully and kindly.

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