Unconscious biases in task choices depend on conscious expectations

Abstract

Recent studies highlight the influence of non-conscious information on task-set selection. However, it has not yet been tested whether this influence depends on conscious settings, as some theoretical models propose. In a series of three experiments, we explored whether non-conscious abstract cues could bias choices between a semantic and a perceptual task. In Experiment 1, we observed a non-conscious influence on task-set selection even when perceptual priming and cue-target compound confounds did not apply. Experiments 2 and 3 showed that, under restrictive conditions of visibility, cues only biased task selection when the conscious task-setting mindset led participants to search for information during the time period of the cue. However, this conscious strategy did not modulate the effect found when a subjective measure of consciousness was used. Altogether, our results show that the configuration of the conscious mindset determines the potential bias of non-conscious information on task-set selection.

Publication
Consciousness and Cognition, 37, 44-56

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