Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Mlodinow is an excellent book which explains the subtleties of the unconscious mind on our everyday activities and choices. Mlodinow makes some very fine distinctions on how willed behavior differs from habit. The conscious mind does not register all details and the discrepancies can be considerable. Our memory can be in error because the mind tends to fill in gaps based on expectations, beliefs and prior knowledge according to the researcher Munsterberg.
Sometimes people are influenced by irrelevant factors in their decision-making. An example would be defining our experience with a product based upon marketing alone. For instance, the famous Schaefer beer commercial sticks in the minds of people even today. The catchy jingle served as a reminder that, “Schaefer is the one beer to have when you’re having more than one.”
In the minds of consumers, Schaefer beer was to be consumed on occasions when more than one beer was contemplated. This commercial lasted for decades due to its acceptance by the public. The author spent some time discussing mis-perceptions. Mlodinow felt that people tend to misperceive family relations, misremember important events and misunderstand investment decisions. Each of these mis-perceptions can have cataclysmic impacts on our personal lives.
Mis-perceiving family relations could result in conflicts over things that may not even be in dispute. Misremembering important events could involve crucial time frame differences. Misunderstanding investment decisions could result in a huge loss of money due to the failure to perform due diligence resulting from impulse buying. In discussing how the mind works, Mlodinow reminds readers to employ logic more often instead of caving into emotions now and experiencing the downside later on. In addition, the author spends a considerable effort to remind people of the importance of nonverbal cues in human relations.
Another classic error involves identifying with a group for flimsy reasons. This is one of the prominent fallacies people rationalize in joining gangs. Sometimes, people take a job for the wrong reasons. These reasons could include prestige or salary alone versus a thoroughly considered career choice.
Subliminal is a carefully crafted book on the dynamics of human relations and the impact on our conscious and unconscious mind. Mlodinow has some barely recognizable messages on the front and back covers, if the book is held up to the light. The messages read, “Buy this book. Now you know you want it.”