Cognitive style modulates conscious but not unconscious thought: Comparing the deliberation-without-attention effect in analytics and wholists.Conscious Cogn 2015; 36:54-60CC
Unconscious thought theory (UTT) suggests that conscious thinking is less effective in complex decision-making than unconscious thinking. However, little research has taken individual differences (e.g., cognitive style) into account. Using an adapted UTT paradigm, the present study compared the performances of individuals with a wholist or an analytic cognitive style in both conscious and unconscious thought conditions. After viewing information regarding four hypothetical phones, participants in the conscious thought condition deliberated for three minutes before rating the phones, while participants in the unconscious thought condition were distracted with a 2-back task for three minutes before rating. The results showed that wholists were equally good at differentiating good and bad phones after conscious or unconscious thought, whereas analytics performed well only when thinking unconsciously. The modulation effect of cognitive style appeared only in conscious thought. Implications for UTT and the understanding of cognitive style are discussed.