Interaction between conscious and unconscious perceptions of meaning

A recent study examined how words perceived unconsciously, or subliminally, affect conscious perception.

The study—Unconscious semantic processing of polysemous words is not automatic—states in its abstract that:

The strong and respective influences of conscious context and response-code on semantic processing of masked polysemous words demonstrate that unconscious verbal semantic representations are not automatic.

A polysemous word is a word with more than one meaning, such as bank, bark, or date.

I like this study because it works with real-time language processing and because it shows that what we consciously pay attention to greatly affects how we perceive what follows.

An article about the study says:

This series of experiments… demonstrates that unconscious cognition is not only highly complex, since it can reach the level of semantics (the meaning of words), but also shows that it seems to be extremely sensitive to conscious influences. At every moment, our conscious position influences the nature of the mental operations unconsciously unfolding within us. (Unconscious processing operates under conscious influence [emphasis added])

I would submit that when we consciously use FIML techniques when listening to our FIML partner, our listening changes greatly for the better because we have at-hand a technique to remove wrong interpretations. FIML allows us to see, as it were, the subliminal words in the study’s experiment and correct our thinking accordingly.

When we don’t use FIML, we tend to build one mistake on top of another. That is to say, listening mistakes that influence consciousness will continue to influence how we hear from that point on and that much of this influence will be unconscious.

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