moment there is in us an infinity of perceptions, unaccompanied by awareness or reflection; that is, of alterations in the soul itself, of which we are unaware because the impressions are either too minute or too numerous, or else too unvarying, so that they are not sufficiently distinctive on their own.
Many studies directed at demonstrating perception without awareness have relied on the dissociation paradigm. Although the logic underlying this paradigm is relatively straightforward, definitive results have been elusive in the absence of any general consensus as to what constitutes an adequate measure of awareness. We propose an alternative approach that involves comparisons of the relative sensitivity of comparable direct and indirect indexes of perception. The only assumption required by the proposed approach is that the sensitivity of (...) direct discriminations to relevant conscious information is greater than or equal to the sensitivity of comparable indirect discriminations. The proposed approach is illustrated through an evaluation of Avant and Thieman’s (1985) recent claim that an indirect measure of perception based on judgments of apparent visual duration provides a more sensitive indicator of perception than does a direct measure based on forced-choice recognition. Contrary to this claim, when direct and indirect indexes are measured under comparable conditions, an indirect measure based on judgments of perceived duration provides a less sensitive index of perceptual processing than do comparable direct measures. The proposed approach provides a general conceptual/methodological framework for using the dissociation paradigm in studies directed at establishing unconscious processes. (shrink)
The idea that cognitive processes can be meaningfully classified as conscious or unconscious has a long history in philosophy and psychology (see Ellenberger 1970: Erdelyi 1985; Perry and Laurence 1984, for reviews). However, even though many experimental reports during the past 100 years claim to demonstrate perception, Ieaming, or memory without conscious awareness, the distinction between conscious and unconscious ’ processes remains highly controversial. For example, the same empirical findings that Holender 1986 concludes provide little or no evidence for unconscious (...) perception are considered by other reviewers (e.g. Dixon 1981) as conclusive and overwhelming documentation of the validity of perception without awareness. (shrink)
There are hundreds of indications leading us to conclude that at every moment there is in us an infinity of perceptions, unaccompanied by awareness or reflection; that is, of alterations in the soul itself, of which we are unaware because the impressions are either too minute or too numerous, or else too unvarying, so that they are not sufficiently distinctive on their own. But when they are combined with others they do nevertheless have their effect and make themselves felt, at (...) least confusedly, within the whole. (Leibniz, 1704/1981, p. 53). (shrink)
The process-dissociation procedure has been used in a variety of experimental contexts to assess the contributions of conscious and unconscious processes to task performance. To evaluate whether motivation affects estimates of conscious and unconscious processes, participants were given incentives to follow inclusion and exclusion instructions in a perception task and a memory task. Relative to a control condition in which no performance incentives were given, the results for the perception task indicated that incentives increased the participants' ability to exclude previously (...) presented information, which in turn both increased the estimate of conscious processes and decreased the estimate of unconscious processes. However, the results also indicated that incentives did not influence estimates of conscious or unconscious processes in the memory task. The findings suggest that the process-dissociation procedure is relatively immune to influences of motivation when used with a memory task, but that caution should be exercised when the process-dissociation is used with a perception task. (shrink)