All of these skills take considerable time and

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All of these skills take considerable time and practice to master, but once mastered, they are often done quite automatically. For experts, only especially difficult or unexpected situations require conscious attention. Because we are only aware of the reflective level of conscious processing, we tend to believe that all human thought is conscious. But it isn t. We also tend to believe that thought can be separated from emotion. This is also false. Cognition and emotion cannot be separated. Cognitive thoughts lead to emotions:
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emotions drive cognitive thoughts. The brain is structured to act upon the world, and every action carries with it expectations, and these expectations drive emotions. That is why much of language is based on physical metaphors, why the body and its interaction with the environment are essential components of human thought. Emotion is highly underrated. In fact, the emotional system is a powerful information processing system that works in tandem with cognition. Cognition attempts to make sense of the world: emotion assigns value. It is the emotional system that determines whether a situation is safe or threatening, whether something that is happening is good or bad, desirable or not. Cognition provides understanding: emotion provides value judgments. A human without a working emotional system has difficulty making choices. A human without a cognitive system is dysfunctional. Because much human behavior is subconscious that is, it occurs without conscious awareness we often don t know what we are about to do, say, or think until after we have done it. It s as 48 The Design of Everyday Things if we had two minds: the subconscious and the conscious, which don t always talk to each other. Not what you have been taught? True, nonetheless. More and more evidence is accumulating that we use logic and reason after the fact, to justify our decisions to ourselves (to our conscious minds) and to others. Bizarre? Yes, but don t protest: enjoy it. Subconscious thought matches patterns, finding the best possible match of one s past experience to the current one. It proceeds rapidly and automatically, without effort. Subconscious processing is one of our strengths. It is good at detecting general trends, at recognizing the relationship between what we now experience and what has happened in the past. And it is good at generalizing, at making predictions about the general trend, based on few examples. But subconscious thought can find matches that are inappropriate or wrong, and it may not distinguish the common from the rare. Subconscious thought is biased toward regularity and structure, and it is limited in formal power. It may not be capable of symbolic manipulation, of careful reasoning through a sequence of steps.
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