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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Day 438: I Live in Your Mind, I Control Who You Are

This is a continuation from my previous posts starting here, please read for context.

The effect on our attitudes of others as potential audiences can be both powerful and subtle. Consider a study conducted by Baldwin and Holmes (1987), in which they first asked women to think about either two of their friends on campus or two of their older relatives. They then exposed the women to sexually explicit stimuli as a pretext of a separate study. The attitudes the women formed about these stimuli related to the group of people they had previously been thinking about. The women who had been thinking of their friends had attitudes toward the sexual materials that were more positive than those of the women who had been thinking about older members of their family. Although the participants expressed their attitudes toward the sexual materials in private, the audience they had in mind when forming their attitudes had a substantial effect. -  Social Psychology (Twelfth Edition) by Robert A Baron, Nyla R Branscombe, & Donn Byrne

Who lives in your mind and influences you? Do you carry your parents with you? Or maybe a friend? what about a character from a TV show?

Are we even aware of the extent to which simple thoughts about other people can influence who we are in a moment? No. We do not make the connection between thought and deed. We live in the blind faith and ideology that we are completely autonomous, that we wholly determine every aspect of who we are in any given moment.

In effect, we have hundreds, if not more, policeman in our minds, guiding what we think, do and say in every moment, depending on which one (or more) has been"activated". If you read up on priming you will get a better idea of what I mean by saying that a construct/personality/design within us is activated/triggered by some form of stimulus.

How does this then translate to the average day of someone living in an average city, with and average job and average family? Every day we're bombarded with images, sounds and all sorts of stimuli, from radios, TV's, friends, family, malls, stores, adverts on buildings, posters, books, magazines - on and on the list goes. We are exposed to all of these different stimuli that are each designed to "trigger" or "activate" a particular response within us, to make us buy a product, or act in a certain way, or have certain beliefs, or speak in a certain way - whatever. We don't even realise that these stimuli are causing our behaviour and thoughts to change - how can we claim to know who we are?

How we delude ourselves into thinking that we are in charge, that we control our own lives, that our thoughts are our own. We have no idea how any part of this world functions - not even our own minds. We have no idea that we essentially have no free will. We have no idea that we are all thoroughly brainwashed. The system is very good at what it does, because we are completely unaware of its influence.

Who are you? Can you say with absolute clarity that you are not influenced by anything? Do you think that companies spend millions on advertising if it didn't work? 

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