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Mechanics of Mind Control

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1 Mechanics of Mind Control

2 Mind Control: Dual Processes
Wegner (1994) mental control and its ironies flow from the operation of a simple mechanism: the interplay of an intentional operating process and an ironic monitoring process. Cybernetics Wiener (1948) noted that it takes 2 processes to control anything at all.

3 Is the Mind Like a Thermostat?

4 Dynamics of Control control involves changing something to a certain criterion, thus processes are needed to provide both the change and the assessment of success in reaching the criterion. Miller, Galanter, & Pribram (1960) - TOTE goal-directed behavior is the result of 2 processes: the operate and test mechanisms in a test-operate-test- exit (TOTE) unit - mind as a thermostat!

5 Wegner’s Theory of Mental Control
the two processes underlying mental control are cognitive search processes that increase the accessibility of stimuli. Each process is an attentional process that orients the system toward a particular set of inputs. the 2 processes differ with respect to their: (a) target search, (b) degree of consciousness (c) attentional demands, (d) conditions of activation

6 Operating Process search target
the desire for a mental state creates an operating process that seeks items consistent with that state (e.g., concentration). The desire to avoid a mental state (e.g., suppression) creates an operating process that seeks items inconsistent with that state. Thus, the operator looks for distractors in an attempt to provide mental control.

7 consciousness the operating process is present in consciousness. It is the ‘subjective’ feeling of doing in mental life.

8 effortfulness the operating process is an effortful (i.e., controlled) mental process (i.e, it demands attentional resources - Bargh, 1989; Hasher & Zacks, 1979; Posner & Snyder, 1975; Shiffrin & Schneider, 1977). As an effortful mental activity, it is vulnerable to competing task demands.

9 activation The operating process is activated by the monitoring process. Whenever the monitor is satisfied that a failure of the intentional operation has been found, the operating process is implemented. Thus, the operator is a non-continuous process, it occurs cyclically in response to failure.

10 Monitoring Process search target
the monitoring process searches for indications of the failure of mental control (i.e., it searches for the unwanted thought, impulse, or memory). Thus, the monitor reviews potentially conscious material. A search attuned for failure is uncomplicated as it needs only to hold a single template against which input can be compared. disabling the monitor (Luria, 1966) frontal lobe dysfunction (Stuss & Benson, 1987)

11 consciousness during mental control attempts, the monitoring process is usually not reflected in conscious thought. effortfulness the monitoring process is less effortful than the operating process, thus it is less likely to be disturbed by concurrent tasks.

12 activation the monitoring process is activated by the initiation of mental control. Once the intention to control the mind is implemented, the monitoring process runs continuously until the intention is relaxed.

13 Conditions of Irony intention to control must be present
competition for attentional resources alcohol stress cognitive load dual-tasks and mental control

14 Don’t Think About? Wegner & Erber (1992)

15 Task word association task think about or don’t think about house
respond with associate home_______ manipulation of cognitive load time pressure or no pressure RESULTS under time pressure, suppressors responded with the forbidden item (i.e., house)

16 Rebound and Hyperaccessibility: Wegner et al. (1993)
Stroop Task suppress or concentrate on house report color of ink - house kettle manipulation of cognitive load digit rehearsal or control (within subjects) RESULTS on high-load trials, suppressors showed impaired colour naming to target item (hence hyperaccessible)

17 Mood Control: Wegner et al. (1993)
recall either happy or sad life event sad event (try not to be sad, no instruction, be sad) happy event (try not to be happy, no instruction, be happy) manipulation of load digit rehearsal or control (between subjects) RESULTS mood control produced ironic effects under load (trying not to be sad, made people sad)

18 While You Were Sleeping

19 Try to Sleep: Wegner et al. (1993)
play cassette when you get into bed narrator sleep as quickly as you can sleep whenever you want rest of the tape - cognitive load New Age music or brass band time taken to get to sleep

20 Sleeping Beauty

21 The Putt and the Pendulum: Wegner et al. (1998)

22 Tasks Task 1 - Chevreul’s Pendulum don’t move on forbidden axis
digit rehearsal or control Task 2 - Putt don’t overshoot the hole RESULTS ironic actions under conditions of load

23 Suppressing Stereotypes: Ironic Effects

24 Skinhead Studies: Macrae et al. (1994)

25 Irony Reconsidered routes to rebound
distractors become reminders (white bear) attentional depletion (house) construct accessibility frequency of priming what does the monitor do? priming - another route to rebound?

26 Expt 1: Suppress Your Stereotypes
Phase 1 - descriptive task - day in the life of a target suppress stereotypes no instruction Phase 2 - day in the life of a new group member Measure - rated stereotypicality of the passages

27 Stereotype Rebound

28 But What About Social Behavior?

29 Expt 2: Take a Seat Phase 1 - describe day in the life of a target (skinhead) suppress stereotypes no instruction Phase 2 - next study (meet the skinhead), empty lab, take a seat (7 available) Measure - social distance

30 The Significant Buttock!

31 Stereotype Hyperaccessibility
rebound with and without resource depletion construct priming accessibility following the relaxation of suppression intention monitor in action

32 Expt 3: Press a Button Phase 1 - describe day in the life of a skinhead suppress stereotypes no instruction Phase 2 - lexical decision task accessibility of stereotype

33 Stereotype Accessibility

34 Other Ironic Effects: Suppression is Effortful
forming impression of others categorical plus individuating material individuation is effortful (Fiske & Neuberg, 1990) suppression is effortful (Wegner, 1994) suppressing stereotypes which information is remembered

35 Form an Impression: Macrae et al. (1996)
form impression of skinhead (audiotaped description) suppress stereotype no instruction stereotypic content - high, low, none probe-reaction task (turn off the light) multiple-choice test about target

36 Probe Performance

37 Target Knowledge

38 Expt 2: Suppression and Memory
form impression of elderly man (videotape) suppress stereotype no instruction material - stereotypic and neutral memory tested after delay of 7 days

39 Target Recollections

40 Issues: Moderating Influences on Stereotype Suppression
perceiver characteristics prejudice level (Monteith et al. 1997) nature of the stereotype (Monteith et al. 1997) race/gender/sexual orientation vs. skinheads motivation (Plant & Devine, 1997) practice (Wegner, 1994)

41 Things Worth Knowing Wegner’s (1994) model of mental control.
The nature of post-suppression rebound effects.

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