How do human beings make plans to respond to situations and eventually achieve our goals? By using internal behavior, or strategies. After first perceiving information, we then process it internally in order to develop a response. The decisions we make on how to respond are based on conditioning and genetic predisposition. The processing occurs below the level of conscious awareness. That is, much of our decision making is based on unconscious strategies that are reflexive and reactive.
This may be hard to swallow at first. But, increasingly, it's become apparent that moments before we consciously make a decision, the outcome of that decision can be predicted by looking at the unconscious activity in the brain (in an fMRI for example).
In 2008, German researchers ran a study wherein the participants could choose to push a button with either their right or their left hand. The subjects could make the decision whenever they so chose, but were asked to remember at which time they felt they had made up their minds. While this went on, the researchers scanned the subjects' brains. They found that they could predict from the brain signals which option participants would choose up to seven seconds before the participants consciously recalled making the decision. According to the researchers, micropatterns of activity in the brain could not be used to predict perfectly, but the ability to predict was still above random. The conclusion: there is internal behavior that we are not aware of that contributes to how we make decisions.
photo by photobunny