Tuesday, December 20, 2016

She is Hot, Literally

One classic Bargh experiment involved having a research assistant greet participants while holding a beverage. The assistant casually asks each subject to hold the drink, ostensibly so that the assistant can have a free hand for writing. Some participants were handed a hot cup of coffee and others were given an iced version of the same drink. Then the subjects were given a packet of information on an individual and were asked to assess the individual’s personality traits. Guess what? Those who had held the hot coffee rated the person as significantly warmer. Bargh has done a lot of this stuff and has reached a simple conclusion: “We have much less volition and autonomy than we think.”
(Akst, Daniel. “Temptation.”)

What do you make of that finding? I hope you see that we are primed in everything we do. If fate wants us to fall in love, the sky and the ocean will be sparkly blue, the beverages we drink will be hot or alcoholic, and the sun will shine with an intensity so that we hear angels sing in the sky. Fate asks us to fall in love at that blessed moment but what we do with it when we have our iced coffee in hand, when the nose is running and it is storming outside, is entirely our doing.

We are primed but we can make continuous choices that shape the future the way we envision. Think of someone who always drifts a little to the right in all their choices at hand, in contrast to someone who always drifts a little to the left. It takes an entire journey around the world before these two will meet again.

I understand that these experimental findings might scare us a little; after all, we aren't robots, right? Yet, for us spiritual travelers there is nothing to be afraid of. Along the WAY there is nothing coincidental and everything is meant to be. Accept the priming, the biases, the synchronicity and be let by life's energies to your destiny. This is another quote of Daniel Akst's "Temptation" book, and it concludes along the same lines I would argue as well: if we are biased, primed and subconsciously guided, we might as well bias ourselves in the best possible form possible:

“John Bargh says that, despite his research into priming and human automaticity, he lives pretty much like everyone else—except that he’s become more conscious of his environment, and he actually works to improve it. For example, he and his kids like to watch The Simpsons, but they turn it off during the parts of the show when the Simpson kids watch Itchy & Scratchy, a hideous parody of violent TV cartoons. Bargh also tries to prime himself; on the way somewhere to give a talk, he might listen to Led Zeppelin in the car to get himself charged up. “Change the environment,” he said during our interview. “That’s the way to do it.”
(Akst, Daniel. “Temptation.” )

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