Assume that you are using priming as a technique to improve your performance in a specific area. Ex: When I am sleepy in the morning I use more alert music to get my mind up to speed. If I want to stay focused I try to visualize a focused person or I try to focus on an object for a few minutes. With these I am trying to used the ideomotor link (as Khaneman calls it) and to increase the concentration power directly or indirectly.

Now let's assume that I want to go back and get out of being focused and staying alert and I expose myself to stimuli that would send me in the opposite direction. Would the initial priming be an obstacle in this direction?

Note: in Kahneman's example imagining yourself smiling will actually improve your mood. Same way, imagining yourself concentrating on something should improve your focus.

  • $\begingroup$ You might just get the answer if you read David Mcraney's "you are not so smart". It has one of the first topics based on mental priming and how it unconciously affects your mind.As far as I know i don't think that you can majorly control the process of priming as and when it just kicks in through all your 5 senses. $\endgroup$ – Advait Trivedi Feb 14 '16 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ I guess the real question becomes: Can you prime yourself? I think that now I vaguely remember that if you are aware of the priming attempt this will fail. hmmm.. $\endgroup$ – MiniMe Feb 14 '16 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ Being aware of the priming is in itself a mental conditioning...its like writing a positive with a negative but ultimately its there $\endgroup$ – Advait Trivedi Feb 14 '16 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ Plus if you want it by kahnman's analogy you use your system 2 to push system 1 onto working..but you need system 1 to understand the impulse of making your system 2 work...now if thats not...being conditioned by sense/feeling or whatever term you wish to use... $\endgroup$ – Advait Trivedi Feb 14 '16 at 18:53

Would the initial priming be an obstacle in this direction?

Yes. But not an exceedingly difficult one to overcome since you manage to prime yourself into being focused in the first place.

Personality plays a vital role of course. If you're a natural hyperactive person it would obviously be an easier task to prime yourself into being alert than to enter a state of complete focus and calmness.

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  • $\begingroup$ Alertness and Focus go together. Calmness goes into the opposite category. $\endgroup$ – MiniMe Jan 13 '16 at 19:55
  • $\begingroup$ Not necessarily. Alertness is a property of "System 1" in most cases and Focus is often handled by "System 2". I too have read much of Kahnman's work, but I think it was Taleb that separated Alertness and Focus. But that wasn't the point of my answer, wasn't it? $\endgroup$ – Benni Jan 13 '16 at 21:28
  • $\begingroup$ No it was not. Your answer refers to a particular case. My understanding is that System 2 means effort (among others) Focus means effort unless we associate this with the "in flow" state which is some how in between -again in my understanding. In in flow you are focused but relaxed, your mind does not need to excessively engage S1 to do the task. Focus by itself is mostly S2, closer to concetration, isn't it? $\endgroup$ – MiniMe Jan 14 '16 at 10:59
  • $\begingroup$ Imho a good focus is between being alerted and relaxed. It's just the right amount of being alert, at the same time being relaxed, and at the same time, having a motivation to concentrate on something. It's what eastern martial arts also teach, or the meditation techniques... $\endgroup$ – noncom Jan 14 '16 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ Could you add sources to your answer? $\endgroup$ – AliceD Jun 13 '16 at 21:03

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