In recent months I’ve twice read the same finding in New Scientist magazine: that if you’re trying to make a simple decision, it’s best to think it through; whereas if you’re trying to make a complex decision, it’s best to go on gut instinct. One of the theories is that the unconscious is able to function holistically, it is able to take all sorts of factors into account in a way that the conscious mind can’t. We could say that the first sort of decision-making is Libran, and the second is Piscean. Pisces who are on-planet do seem to have a capacity for comprehending complexity, though without knowing how they do it.
What has also been found, however, is that we are a lot less conscious than we think we are. Specifically, our decisions are based far more on immediate environmental factors and unconscious cues, and far less on rational thinking, than we would like to believe. For example, after a year’s study, a group of students were asked to fill in a form about their lecturers’ performance, giving marks for clarity etc, and giving reasons for their marks as well. Another group of students were shown 30-second video clips of the same lecturers, with the sound turned off, and asked to assess the lecturers in the same way. Both groups gave almost the same marks to the lecturers.
What this shows is that though it can appear that we are reasoning through our decisions, we may in fact just be responding automatically to cues in our environment. There were a number of related studies I read about, all giving similar outcomes, and leading to the result that we are far more robotic, and less rational, than we would like to think we are.
That, however, is not my take. There seems to be an assumption that rational = advanced and instinctual = primitive and robotic. So though we probably are a lot less conscious than we would like to think, the answer is not simply to try to become more rational: the answer is also to become more aware of our intuitive responses and to take them seriously. Our intuition will then become stronger and sharper, and we become more aware of why we are doing what we are doing. That is the route out of the roboticness that these scientists seem to have correctly diagnosed.