Why is Difference Between Conscious and Unconscious

Nov 20, 2023
Why is Difference Between Conscious and Unconscious

Conscious and Unconscious: Psychology uses the terms “Conscious” and “Subconscious” interchangeably to refer to states of mind, making distinction difficult even among experts in the field. Human minds can be divided into conscious, subconscious, and unconscious states with many research studies conducted to investigate each in relation to behavior and attitude changes in humans. One major distinction between conscious and subconscious states resides in basic mental functions and processes, While conscious minds tend to rationalize and think logically while unconscious processes often cause involuntary actions or responses.

What Is Consciousness?


Consciousness is rational and logical, adapting to various situations with swift responses. It is essential to remember that conscious and unconscious minds do not communicate, with our conscious mind teaching us skills while our subconscious absorbs information that cannot fit in its memory banks. Unbeknownst to many, our emotions are often caused by unconscious processes infiltrating the conscious mind – and vice versa; while emotions arise within the conscious mind as it paints images in our awareness. Training our conscious mind can help us overcome emotional issues faster by changing its thinking habits which could potentially resolve such problems with ease.

What is Unconsciousness?

Figure-no-2: Unconsciousness

Among the greatest achievers in history are those who have rid their minds of biases and judgments to view the world without bias or preconceptions, being open-minded enough to accept what is. Creative thinkers like them had learned how to tap into their unconscious minds for inspiration and creativity. Unconscious mind differs significantly from conscious mind in that it only sees what’s taking place beyond conscious perceptions. Your unconscious prefers working without your knowledge; thus nonverbal communication often precedes verbal interactions.

Our unconscious mind senses when someone smiles and prompts our conscious mind to reciprocate by smiling as well. The unconscious mind’s spontaneous intuition drives most of what we learn while our conscious minds have difficulty with complex theories. Learn to ride a bicycle might appear simple at first, yet most of the learning takes place subconsciously, since conscious brain is incapable of maintaining balance, eye-hand coordination, and seeing obstacles simultaneously.

Once we master cycling, its skill is transferred into our unconscious mind and stored there for future use. Many individuals who had not cycled for 40-50 years were able to ride easily at the end of their lives due to all of this information being stored within their unconscious mind. Our conscious minds cannot keep pace with all the physiological responses from different body parts, while our unconscious minds regulate systems like our nervous and circulatory systems as well as breathing, urinary and reproductive systems.

Conscious and Unconscious Learning

  • Conscious learning means being aware of your actions and why they occur; you are aware of information processing and can make decisions as a result. Unintentional or subconscious learning occurs without your awareness, making it hard to control.
  • Unconscious learning occurs when individuals are unaware that their skills, knowledge, attitudes and learning abilities have been altered without conscious recognition. Unconscious processing is an automated process; it excludes uncontrollable, inefficient processes or those consuming minimal attentional resources – Robert-Jan P. Simons R.P (2012) published “Designing For The Internet Generation,” Journal of Computing; while learning without conscious thinking has also been documented by Seel et. al in The Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning published by Cambridge University Press Cambridge Massachusetts
  • Van Parreren Review by C. F. F. Van Parreren, Carpay A. M. and others is an overview of education and cognitive development activity. [Sovjet psychologists on education and cognitive development] discusses education and development while Wolters Noordhoff’s website can give more details about this company.

Conscious and Unconscious Examples

  • Your conscious mind represents the tip of an iceberg; beneath its surface are visible preconscious areas that remain submerged while the majority of your unconscious areas lie buried below.
  • Memory can be more challenging to recall when they’re not top of mind. You might not remember awakening after having experienced a nightmare; or events that occurred while unconscious such as being involved in an automobile crash while sleeping.
  • According to some, our unconscious minds are where ideas and creativity emerge, often giving birth to product innovation. Additionally, many believe that fears and worries reside there too.
    Imagine the unconscious mind as an unknown place full of mystery and magic, though scientists still are uncertain of its exact structure due to difficulty accessing it. We do know, however, that its powers can help us remember things we would otherwise lose track of.

Interactions Between Conscious and Unconscious

  • Subconscious awareness refers to states of mind where one is unaware of his/her own focal point, while unconscious mind refers to processes generated automatically without the capacity for introspection; such processes include thought processes and memory storage.
  • Ivan Staroversky of StarOverSky suggests that consciousness consists of three mental states, conscious, unconscious and subconscious. Freud separated unconsciousness into two groups – superego (conscience) and id – when studying unconsciousness. Unconscious thought cannot access instinctual, primordial thoughts. Therefore it stores information non-consciously and cannot be processed by conscious thought; Freud used techniques like dream interpretation and free association to gain an insight into his unconscious. Many believe hypnosis as a means to break or solve patterns – no one agrees on its origins!

Interactions between Conscious and Unconscious Mind

Conscious and subconscious processes work hand in hand to shape our thinking, behavior, and decision-making processes.

Here are some key aspects that influence their interaction:

  • Dual Process Theory: Dual-process theory asserts that human cognition can be broken down into two distinct systems, System 1 (intuitive) and System 2 (reflective). System 1 relies on unconscious quick processing with automatic logic and heuristics while System 2 engages in conscious analysis involving slow deliberate thought processes. Both influence each other when performing cognitive tasks and making decisions.
  • Priming and Implicit Memory: Unconscious processes may influence or prime subsequent conscious processing. Priming refers to the activation or association of mental representations and associations that occur outside of conscious awareness, often without our conscious awareness, which then influences subsequent thoughts, judgments, or behavior. Implicit memory refers to untapped memory stores which shape our behaviors without us even realizing it is there.
  • Unconscious Biases: When it comes to unconscious biases, we may not realize their influence until later on in our decisions. They can affect our perceptions, judgments and decisions without us even being aware of them; such biases could stem from personal, social or cultural factors and could result in unintentional treatment or discrimination against particular groups or people. It is vitally important that we recognize and address unconscious biases so as to promote fairness and equality among us all.
  • Unconscious processes may help with problem-solving and creative thinking: While the conscious mind relaxes or incubates, unconscious processing often generates new solutions or insights for unresolved issues; often leading to “aha!” moments or breakthroughs.
  • Psychoanalysis and Therapy – Psychoanalytic theory emphasizes the unconscious as a key element for understanding psychological disorders and personal growth. Psychoanalysis therapy seeks to bring unconscious desires, conflicts, and memories into conscious awareness in order to facilitate insight and resolve internal conflicts.
  • Subliminal Messaging – Subliminal messages are presented below the threshold of conscious awareness to influence behavior or attitudes, and their use has long been debated. Though their efficacy and ethical implications remain debatable, research has demonstrated how subconscious processing may be altered by such stimuli.

Applications and Implications

Understanding conscious and unconscious processes has numerous applications across many fields.

Here are a few notable applications, and their associated consequences:

  • Psychological Therapies: Psychoanalytic therapy explores unconscious thoughts, memories, and conflicts to treat psychological disorders and promote growth. Individuals gain insight into their behavior, motivations, and emotional patterns by bringing unconscious material to conscious awareness – leading to healing and transformation.
  • Advertising and Marketing: Advertisers, marketers, and other professionals often rely on unconscious processes to influence consumer behavior. Primed messages, subliminal messages and emotional appeals are techniques employed by professionals in advertising to reach deeper into consumers’ subconscious preferences and associations to influence purchasing decisions; such methods also raise ethical considerations due to potential impacts on their autonomy.
  • Cognitive Biases in Decision-Making: Cognitive biases such as the availability of heuristics or confirmation bias can have a dramatic impact on decision-making, making rational and informed choices difficult for both individuals and organizations alike. Becoming aware of such unconsciously held prejudices has implications in fields such as behavioral economics where insights into unconscious prejudices have allowed scientists to create models and theories on human decision-making processes.
  • Explore unconscious processes to enhance creativity and problem-solving abilities: Allowing the unconscious to take over during periods of relaxation or incubation can yield innovative ideas for complex issues that need solving, including creative visualization techniques such as brainstorming and mind maps that tap into unconscious resources and foster creativity.
  • Ethics: Unconscious processes impacting informed consent, autonomy and manipulation raise many ethical considerations. Subliminal messages, unconscious biases and the potential manipulation by the unconscious mind must all be thoroughly scrutinized to maintain ethical standards in advertising, research and professional practices such as professional practice.
  • Self-Development & Mindfulness: Acknowledging the interplay of conscious and unconscious processes is key to personal development. Reflection and mindfulness practice can increase self-awareness while helping individuals identify unconscious patterns, biases or behaviors which might be inhibiting personal growth or relationships.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): Artificial intelligence refers to the study and development of systems that mimic cognitive functions similar to humans, with studies focused on both conscious and unconscious processes being taken into consideration when creating AI technologies such as computer vision, natural language processing and machine learning technologies. Understanding how consciousness emerges through neural processes is crucial in further developing such technologies as these.


The unconscious mind and consciousness provide two distinct levels of consciousness. Consciousness is our conscious awareness of thoughts, emotions, and sensations, in which we are actively processing information and making decisions. The unconscious includes thoughts of memories, desires, and other thoughts that aren’t in our conscious consciousness but may affect our behavior and emotional state. While conscious thought lets us be conscious and aware, however, the unconscious plays an important part in shaping our behavior and reactions without our conscious awareness. Both are vital elements of human cognition and understanding.