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Exploring Social Cognition

Home | What is Social Cognition? | What is a Schema? | Why Do We Have Schemas? | Which schemas are applied? | The Perserverance Effect | Self-Fulfilling Prophecy | Judgmental Heuristics | Availability Heuristc | Representative Heuristc | Anchoring and Adustment Heuristic | Automatic Versus Controlled Thinking | Thought Suppression | Errors in Social Cognition | Links | Bibliography

Automatic Versus Controlled Thinking

As our actions can become incresingly automatic, so can they manner in how we think (Bargh, 1994).  The more practice individuals'  have in thinking in a specific way, the more automatic that kind of  thinking becomes, to the point where we can do it unconsciously, without any effort.  Automatic processing is when individuals think in a way unconsciously, unintentionally, involuntarlly, and effortlessly.

Obviously, not all thinking in automatic, sometimes individuals' stop and think deeply about themselves, others and society.  This kind of thinking is known as controlled processing, defined as thinking that is conscious, intentional, voluntary, and effortful.  For instance, wondering: "I wonder what's for supper tonight?" or "When will the actor finish his movie?".  You can "turn on" and/or "turn off" controlled thinking at will, and you are are fully aware of what you are thinking.