Before You Know It
Dr. John Bargh, the world’s leading expert on the unconscious mind, presents a “brilliant and convincing book” (Malcolm Gladwell) cited as an outstanding read of 2017 by Business Insider and The Financial Times—giving us an entirely new understanding of the hidden mental processes that secretly govern every aspect of our behavior.For more than three decades, Dr. John Bargh has conducted revolutionary research into the unconscious mind, research featured in bestsellers like Blink and Thinking Fast and Slow. Now, in what Dr. John Gottman said was “the most important and exciting book in psychology that has been written in the past twenty years,” Dr. Bargh takes us on an entertaining and enlightening tour of the forces that affect everyday behavior while transforming our understanding of ourselves in profound ways. Dr. Bargh takes us into his labs at New York University and Yale—where he and his colleagues have discovered how the unconscious guides our behavior, goals, and motivations in areas like race relations, parenting, business, consumer behavior, and addiction. With infectious enthusiasm he reveals what science now knows about the pervasive influence of the unconscious mind in who we choose to date or vote for, what we buy, where we live, how we perform on tests and in job interviews, and much more. Because the unconscious works in ways we are completely unaware of, Before You Know It is full of surprising and entertaining revelations as well as useful tricks to help you remember items on your to-do list, to shop smarter, and to sleep better.Before You Know It is “a fascinating compendium of landmark social-psychology research” (Publishers Weekly) and an introduction to a fabulous world that exists below the surface of your awareness and yet is the key to knowing yourself and unlocking new ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

Before You Know It Details

TitleBefore You Know It
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 17th, 2017
PublisherTouchstone
ISBN-139781501101236
Rating
GenrePsychology, Nonfiction, Science, Neuroscience, Brain, Biology

Before You Know It Review

  • Jordan Hicks
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a great middle of the road between Blink and Thinking Fast and Slow. It offers some great, research-based insights about how the unconscious mind operates and also some great strategies for how to build/break habits and help the unconscious mind work for you, not against you. I highly recommend to anyone even vaguely interested in psychology, anyone who wants to understand why they do what they do a little better or anyone who wants to use their brain a little more effectively.
    more
  • John Hicks
    January 1, 1970
    Miss this book and miss what you are and have been and ever can be. Ten years in the making, summarizes all that Kahneman and Tversky and others have taught in recent decades about where our decisions are conscious (rarely) and where they are unconscious (mostly). Much of the research was done by Bargh and his teams. This is not merely popularization of the findings of others. Even after Taleb and Kahneman this book is a shocker. Our liking for someone is different if the drink in our hand is co Miss this book and miss what you are and have been and ever can be. Ten years in the making, summarizes all that Kahneman and Tversky and others have taught in recent decades about where our decisions are conscious (rarely) and where they are unconscious (mostly). Much of the research was done by Bargh and his teams. This is not merely popularization of the findings of others. Even after Taleb and Kahneman this book is a shocker. Our liking for someone is different if the drink in our hand is cold rather than hot. Ouch! Yet there are some hopeful methods near the end for aligning our conscious and unconscious thinking and tapping rather than fighting the great power of the unconscious. What a long and disastrously wrong tradition is here overthrown: we are more than and less than merely our reasoning minds. J M Coetzee knew, in his ingenious Lives of Animals. Speaking as Doris Costello: "Saint Thomas’s argument that, because man alone is made in the image of God and partakes in the being of God, how we treat animals is of no importance except insofar as being cruel to animals may accustom us to being cruel to men. I could ask what Saint Thomas takes to be the being of God, to which he will reply that the being of God is reason. Likewise Plato, likewise Descartes, in their different ways. The universe is built upon reason. God is a God of reason. The fact that through the application of reason we can come to understand the rules by which the universe works proves that reason and the universe are of the same being. And the fact that animals, lacking reason, cannot understand the universe but have simply to follow its rules blindly, proves that, unlike man, they are part of it but not part of its being: that man is godlike, animals thinglike." No, our big brains only deceive us all the better. An animals is nearer the truth. It cannot lie. It is not forever at war with the unconscious mind that is the better wiser surer part of any living thing. What is reason? A public relations machine. A press secretary. Bargh may be all you need to reason yourself free of reason's endless publicity tour.
    more
  • Rbarfuss
    January 1, 1970
    I first learned of Bargh when one of his experiments was used by a behavioural economist. I dug up a couple of his studies and found his work to be very interesting. I was excited to learn that he had recently written a book - and I was not disappointed. He references some of his studies in the past to support his thoughts. This is not an academic book, but it was very entertaining, and gave me a couple of insights into other areas. I think he'd be proud that his book helped me to release some o I first learned of Bargh when one of his experiments was used by a behavioural economist. I dug up a couple of his studies and found his work to be very interesting. I was excited to learn that he had recently written a book - and I was not disappointed. He references some of his studies in the past to support his thoughts. This is not an academic book, but it was very entertaining, and gave me a couple of insights into other areas. I think he'd be proud that his book helped me to release some of my unconscious mind to solve some problems.
    more
  • Joan
    January 1, 1970
    We would like to think we are in control of all our actions. Bargh shows that our past, present and future deeply influence our behavior, our choices, and our likes and dislikes, “before we know it.” (Loc 4555/7037) Our experiences influence us. Those with whom we are interacting elicit a mirroring behavior from us. Our goals, dreams, and needs color what we like, what we pay attention to, even what we buy. There is much more going on in our unconscious than we realized.I learned a great deal fo We would like to think we are in control of all our actions. Bargh shows that our past, present and future deeply influence our behavior, our choices, and our likes and dislikes, “before we know it.” (Loc 4555/7037) Our experiences influence us. Those with whom we are interacting elicit a mirroring behavior from us. Our goals, dreams, and needs color what we like, what we pay attention to, even what we buy. There is much more going on in our unconscious than we realized.I learned a great deal form this book. I have always been fascinated with the complexities of why we do what we do. This book explained much. Bargh takes us through many studies but does it in a readable and understandable way. I liked his historical review, taking us through behaviorism, then cognitive psychology, and then the new studies that show we are born with unconscious mental abilities. I now know there is a constant play of the conscious and unconscious as I live my life. I learned about how I got my opinions, some from infancy and others from culture.Bargh encourages readers in the end. We can use these unconscious processes to our advantage. He sort of tosses will power on its head, showing how we can do things better utilizing our automatic and habitual behavior. “As we learn more about the unconscious influences on our mind, we can use that knowledge to make positive differences in our lives.” (Loc 1898/7037)
    more
  • Robert C
    January 1, 1970
    First off, this book is in a genera that I frequently read. In particular, I liked that he used so many experiments to make his point.The experiments were the book. To explain, this book was a large number of descriptions of various experiments woven to together to create a narrative. He didn't just mention the experiment's results, Much like Malcolm Gladwell does, he explained the process.
    more
  • Daniel
    January 1, 1970
    This book summarized Bargh’s life work on the subconscious. I learnt a great deal from it. There are 2 persons inside each of us: the conscious and the unconscious. The conscious is thoughtful, takes effort and is narrow in scope. It is good for doing maths. The unconscious does not require active thoughts or effort, and is broad in scope. It is good for solving complicated problems with many parameters. Unfortunately, the latter can be quite easily affected by:1. Culture. Asian female students This book summarized Bargh’s life work on the subconscious. I learnt a great deal from it. There are 2 persons inside each of us: the conscious and the unconscious. The conscious is thoughtful, takes effort and is narrow in scope. It is good for doing maths. The unconscious does not require active thoughts or effort, and is broad in scope. It is good for solving complicated problems with many parameters. Unfortunately, the latter can be quite easily affected by:1. Culture. Asian female students perform better in maths when reminded of their Asian heritage and worse when reminded of their female gender. 2. Priming. Even looking at certain words can prime us as in point 1. This is also how lots of psychology studies are done. 3. Environment. We are quiet in churches and libraries, mildly noisy in the classroom and office, and very loud in football games. We know how to fit in. Interestingly, the destination can affect people’s behaviour on the way there. 4. Mimicry. The mirror neurons in our brain cause us to mimic what the other person in doing. People like others who have the same posture as them. 5. Our goals. If we are in a rush, we would not stop to help others in distress. 6. Cumulative input. If others keep being rude to us, we would probably flip upon the 3rd or 4th insult, even though each person behaved the same way. So a bad day at work affects how we behave when we reach home when it shouldn’t. 7. Power. Susceptible people deem the opposite sex more attractive when they are in a powerful position. How to be smarter?1. Acknowledge the effect of our subconscious mind. 2. Prime ourselves well. For example, we can use tribalism to overcome racism. Just telling people in advance who their team mates are completely remove racism towards others because we are now ‘team’.3. Remove things that affect our goals. For example, successful dieters do not buy snacks and do not even pass nearby stores that sell unhealthy food. So they do not test their willpower. 4. To solve complex problems, think very hard and narrow down the few critical parameters. Then go do something else, like having a walk or soaking in a tub (how Archimedes discovered his Principle that buoyancy is equal to weight of water displaced). Let our subconscious get to work. 5. Awake at night? The subconscious is bothering you. Resolve to do something about the problem, and you can then probably sleep better. One of the more scientific book about the subconscious I had read.
    more
  • Dorthe
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars, really: the topic of oneself is, of course, perpetually fascinating, and professor Bargh clearly knows his stuff. A few too many repetitions, as in so many books from the US.
  • Tl Wagener
    January 1, 1970
    I'm always fascinated by the workings of the human mind and psyche, and so this piqued my interest at the library. It is a wonderful record of many, many academic social experiments over the years, with the results -- which are almost always presented as "surprising." I ended up skimming after several pages, though, because I felt I'd be just as educated with bullet points. I reckon the author used research assistants a great deal to write this -- there are many more words than necessary. I beca I'm always fascinated by the workings of the human mind and psyche, and so this piqued my interest at the library. It is a wonderful record of many, many academic social experiments over the years, with the results -- which are almost always presented as "surprising." I ended up skimming after several pages, though, because I felt I'd be just as educated with bullet points. I reckon the author used research assistants a great deal to write this -- there are many more words than necessary. I became nostalgic for Oliver Sacks, who wrote about cases in clear neat prose while also offering up parts of his personality. Perhaps this was from lectures? I couldn't figure it out. I understand it is the author's life work, but detailing every study (some results of which I thought were obvious) just wasn't as interesting to me as I expected. Concocting a study to test a certain hypothesis is a creative and imaginative exercise, but I didn't feel a part of things. I feel less would have been more here. (What did the editor do?) I couldn't get through it.
    more
  • Arno Mosikyan
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting citations:The breakthrough insight that Gazzaniga took away from his experiments was that the impulses that drive many of our daily, moment-to-moment behaviors originate in brain processes that are outside of our awareness, even if we are quick to understand them otherwise.Gazzaniga argued that the conscious mind makes sense of our unconsciously generated behaviors after the fact, creating a positive, plausible narrative about what we are doing and why.Half a century ago, Princeton p Interesting citations:The breakthrough insight that Gazzaniga took away from his experiments was that the impulses that drive many of our daily, moment-to-moment behaviors originate in brain processes that are outside of our awareness, even if we are quick to understand them otherwise.Gazzaniga argued that the conscious mind makes sense of our unconsciously generated behaviors after the fact, creating a positive, plausible narrative about what we are doing and why.Half a century ago, Princeton professor George Miller pointed out that if we had to do everything consciously, we’d never be able to get out of bed in the morning. (That’s often hard enough as it is.)My research over the years, as well as that of my colleagues, has revealed that there is a hidden present that affects nearly everything we do:We have two fundamental, primitive drives that subtly and unconsciously affect what we think and do: the need to survive and the need to mate.Why would conservative politicians try to make voters more afraid, and liberal politicians try to make voters less afraid? It has long been known that people become more conservative and resistant to change when under threat of some kind.Research in political psychology has shown that it is much easier to get a liberal to behave like a conservative than it is to get a conservative to behave like a liberal.And research had shown that you can make liberals more conservative by threatening them and making them somewhat afraid. But what if you made people feel safer instead?In one of a series of fascinating studies on hormonal influences, Florida State University researchers showed that heterosexual male college students were more attracted to a female participating in the same study when she happened to be at the peak ovulation time of her cycle than when she was at the least fertile period, without the young men being aware of this influence at all.A decade later, other psychology and neuroscience experiments have confirmed this primal association between physical and social temperature, between feeling warmth and then acting in a warm, prosocial way.As Eibach and colleagues point out, almost every generation believes that art and music and the work ethic and you name it are not as good now as they used to be, the moral climate has deteriorated, children are more spoiled now than they were twenty years ago, there is more crime, et cetera, et cetera. The funny thing is, historians have noted how the belief that society is changing for the worse is a constant going back thousands of years.First, there are disproportionately more Kens who live in Kentucky, Louises who live in Louisiana, Florences who live in Florida, and Georges who live in Georgia, there are proportionally more Dennys who are dentists. deep down in our brains, we are always involuntarily generating responses that mirror not only what’s directly going on around us, but also what’s implied by the situation or context in which we find ourselves?At first glance, it might seem that we are mindless automatons, pack animals, following the rest of the herd. Aren’t we, you might wonder, singular beings whose minds only express our unique nature as we think, talk, and do? Yes, and no—but with a lot more no.Our chameleonlike nature makes us more likely to do what other people are currently doing.While we are sleeping, the same areas of the brain that were consciously working on problems are continuing to try to solve them unconsciously.The unconscious is not very good at making specific plans for the future—good at finding solutions to problems, and pursuing a goal in general, yes, but not so good at formulating concrete plans for specific sequences of actions—so it punts the problem to the conscious mind, saying, “Here, you deal with it.”Your important goals never sleep. They operate unconsciously in the background, without your needing to guide them or even being aware of them, vigilantly monitoring your environment for things that might help meet that need.Point #1: Your conscious thoughts matter. This means, according to what psychologists mean by the term, you have “free will.” But it is not as complete and all-powerful as you might have believed.Point #2: Acknowledging that you do not have complete free will, or complete conscious control, actually increases the amount of free will and control you truly have.We are captains of our souls, certainly, and it sounds great to be a captain, but as in any other path of life, there are bad captains as well as good ones. The wise captain takes the winds and currents into account, adjusts for them when they go against the ship’s course, and takes advantage of them when they are heading the same way. The bad captain insists that only the steering wheel matters, and so crashes into the rocks, or ends up adrift at sea.Point #3: The most effective self-control is not through willpower and exerting effort to stifle impulses and unwanted behaviors. It comes from effectively harnessing the unconscious powers of the mind to much more easily do the self-control for you.Think of yourself as a CEO with a great staff. They all work for You Inc. and are dedicated and committed to your happiness and achievement. Relax and let them do their jobs. Your conscious thoughts matter. They are causal, meaning that they have the power to change how you feel and what you do.Conscious and unconscious mental processes do different things well. If they both did the same things well and the same things not so well, then they’d be redundant, and we would not have evolved both of them. So it is not that one is bad and the other good. It is that each is good but in its own domain. They work together, usually in harmony, and dynamically: one causes the other and vice versa.
    more
  • Daniel Palevski
    January 1, 1970
    Great collection of research findings - 'a life's work' as he puts it himself at the end - of the author's findings regarding the strengths (and weaknesses) of the unconscious.Well put together, easy to read, with some fairly entertaining anecdotes throughout. My favorite and most powerful takeaway from this book - while your conscious mind is largely responsible for a lot of things that we would describe as 'executive functions' (talking, making appointments, eating) our unconscious is responsi Great collection of research findings - 'a life's work' as he puts it himself at the end - of the author's findings regarding the strengths (and weaknesses) of the unconscious.Well put together, easy to read, with some fairly entertaining anecdotes throughout. My favorite and most powerful takeaway from this book - while your conscious mind is largely responsible for a lot of things that we would describe as 'executive functions' (talking, making appointments, eating) our unconscious is responsible for our heavy duty thinking - connecting the dots and finding emerging patterns.
    more
  • Peter A. van Tilburg
    January 1, 1970
    Bargh gives an interesting overview of much research with regard to the unconscious. It is nice to read who he uses his research findings in his personal life. His epiphany on the unconscious which comes first before the conscious seems simple and logic but most findings seem so in hindsight. He describes how the past influences the subconscious by the cultural and family values and that experiences you have effect you in what comes afterwards (‘life lingers’). Then he moves to how the present i Bargh gives an interesting overview of much research with regard to the unconscious. It is nice to read who he uses his research findings in his personal life. His epiphany on the unconscious which comes first before the conscious seems simple and logic but most findings seem so in hindsight. He describes how the past influences the subconscious by the cultural and family values and that experiences you have effect you in what comes afterwards (‘life lingers’). Then he moves to how the present influences the subconscious as a continuous evaluation works in our subconscious signaling ‘good or bad’ ‘yes or no’ ‘stay or go’. Nice is the description on when to trust your gut: if there is time use your conscious thinking; when there is no time don’t take too much risk; when there is complexity and many factors involved take your gut more seriously; when you can trust your gut be careful what you wish for; when initial gut to race is negative don’t trust it; do not trust on facial ordeal; these last two stems from long past experiences; trust your gut of other people only after you have seen them in action; attraction is OK in the romantic equation but not the only thing. Some of these point seem to me quite obvious. Last here people mirror behavior. He moves on to the future mainly focussing how goals an intentions can be settled in our life by making them a routine (which is steered subconsciously) and so helps to realize them. You can ‘use’ your subconscious big capacity by consciously describing a problem or issue you want to tackle as clearly and concrete as possible and subsequently take time and relax and let your subconscious do the work and give you the solution.
    more
  • M
    January 1, 1970
    Everyone has seen the iceberg metaphor for the Freudian unconscious, but most just think "wow, look at all the weird sex stuff underwater there" without considering all the squishy equivalent of RAM tucked in between all the weird sex stuff. Bargh unintentionally defends Zen buddhism by making the case that much of the anxiety we experience comes from our distrust of our unconscious. The reason we get eureka moments, or we're most creative when we take a break, take a shower, have a cigarette, t Everyone has seen the iceberg metaphor for the Freudian unconscious, but most just think "wow, look at all the weird sex stuff underwater there" without considering all the squishy equivalent of RAM tucked in between all the weird sex stuff. Bargh unintentionally defends Zen buddhism by making the case that much of the anxiety we experience comes from our distrust of our unconscious. The reason we get eureka moments, or we're most creative when we take a break, take a shower, have a cigarette, think of nothing is because our unconscious seizes the opportunity to tackle the problem without being bogged down by all the judgmental bullshit our conscious mind brings to the table. Sort of like how much processing power your computer gets when you close your 150 open Google Chrome tabs. Of course, our distrust of our unconscious comes from the demonization that stems from the heuristic biases we're uncomfortable with, like racism. A third of the book talks about the implicit bias test, and how it'll out you, no matter how unracist you think you are. Or it'll out your unconscious, anyway. Fortunately, there's a workaround: if you make a conscious effort to change your thinking, it will eventually change how your unconscious thinks, too. The neurons that fire together wire together and so forth. The rest of the book was just a celebration of the capacity of the unconscious, and anecdotes suggesting "genius" comes from comfort with and easy access to it.
    more
  • Daniel Alvarado
    January 1, 1970
    Fantastic book. It took me a while to finish reading it but it was well worth it. This book gives a great perspective on the unconscious mind without too many technical terms so that a normal audience would find it interesting. The principles and studies describe can be applied to everyday life. In understanding that your unconscious controls more than you think, you will become open to a new perspective on life and will have a new metric to improve. There is even advice towards the end over how Fantastic book. It took me a while to finish reading it but it was well worth it. This book gives a great perspective on the unconscious mind without too many technical terms so that a normal audience would find it interesting. The principles and studies describe can be applied to everyday life. In understanding that your unconscious controls more than you think, you will become open to a new perspective on life and will have a new metric to improve. There is even advice towards the end over how to control your own mind and develop good habits. One technique is the implementations-intention technique. That is all I will say because I think this is a book everyone should read.
    more
  • Pam
    January 1, 1970
    Don’t bother unless you like political drivel disguised as scholarly workThe author has some egotistical issues and he inserts his political opinion disguised as cherry-picked “research”. Don’t waste your money unless you want validation for left political viewpoints. That’s fine, except not everyone wants to read highly questionable “research” about why people have certain political opinions (of course, the author is on the “politically correct” side). I would give it less than a 1 star if that Don’t bother unless you like political drivel disguised as scholarly workThe author has some egotistical issues and he inserts his political opinion disguised as cherry-picked “research”. Don’t waste your money unless you want validation for left political viewpoints. That’s fine, except not everyone wants to read highly questionable “research” about why people have certain political opinions (of course, the author is on the “politically correct” side). I would give it less than a 1 star if that were possible.
    more
  • Ben
    January 1, 1970
    If you've never read anything on the topic, this book pulls together a good deal of research and presents it all in one place. For that, it's invaluable. For the widely read, there are a lot of repeat tales from other books and authors, since there are only so many ground breaking studies to go round. So read it for the first time and marvel, or read it as an a familiar and skim. Either way, it's well worth it.
    more
  • Ram Krishnan
    January 1, 1970
    Very good book detailing how our unconscious mind influences our actions and how to strike a balance between unconscious and conscious self. The flow is interesting with the author constantly engaging the user with real life examples and psychological studies.
    more
  • Sharon
    January 1, 1970
    Dr. Bargh explains how various factors influence our behavior. I wish I had read this while still in the classroom. Our conscious thoughts and unconscious motives work together to promote our behavior.
  • Nancy Seamons
    January 1, 1970
    Because the unconscious works in ways we are completely unaware of, Before You Know It is full of surprising and entertaining revelations as well as tricks to help you remember to-do items, shop smarter, and sleep better.
  • Laura Trombley
    January 1, 1970
    What a fantastic book! Are brains are the most amazing things, even when they mess up. This book explains racism, the Trump election victory, provides self-help and help teaching and raising children all at once!
  • Lindsey Garrett
    January 1, 1970
    really enjoyed this book! It was easy to follow and I really enjoyed the progression of it. the last chapter was definitely my favorite and have me some good takeaways to apply.
  • Betsy
    January 1, 1970
    Very interesting! Some fascinating studies described, and also practical ways to apply the science to your life.
  • Kirk McAfee
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 Much already knew but goes beyond into new areas
  • Constance Mettler
    January 1, 1970
    Really interesting ideas. Uneven writing. The author, a serious researcher and academic, was trying to write a book that the rest of us could read. I did learn a lot and appreciated that.
  • Irfan
    January 1, 1970
    One of the best books on brain and how it works.
  • Denise
    January 1, 1970
    Definitely thorough information on this subject. Could have been a more compelling delivery.
  • Cefmom
    January 1, 1970
    Very informative, albeit a little long and detailed. Good for the science geek and those wanting to understand more about human behavior.
  • Rock Howard
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent read. Highly recommended.This book helped reinforce many of the lessons about the unconscious that I have discovered from various sources over the years. It also helped me understand them better by putting them into a framework that makes a lot of sense to me. Some of the ideas for instilling cooperation between the conscious and unconscious minds towards the end of the book crystalize and contextualize several techniques that I have used myself.This is a popularization of the relevant Excellent read. Highly recommended.This book helped reinforce many of the lessons about the unconscious that I have discovered from various sources over the years. It also helped me understand them better by putting them into a framework that makes a lot of sense to me. Some of the ideas for instilling cooperation between the conscious and unconscious minds towards the end of the book crystalize and contextualize several techniques that I have used myself.This is a popularization of the relevant science (a lot of which was uncovered by the author and his compatriots) that almost anyone should be able to digest. There are a lot of people who would gain a lot from learning more about themselves and this book can be a good starting point.
    more
Write a review