Ap Dijksterhuis

A Social Psychologist (The Netherlands)

Ap Dijksterhuis

A Social Psychologist (The Netherlands)

Ap Dijksterhuis

He received his Ph.D in Social Sciences from Radboud University Nijmegen in 1996. His adviser was Ad van Knippenberg. From 1996-1999, he did post-doc work as a Research Fellow of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences, located in Amsterdam. In 2000, he became a professor at the University of Amsterdam, returning to Radboud University Nijmegen in 2006. In 2007, his first book was published, in Dutch, called ‘Het slimme onbewuste’ (‘The Smart Unconscious’.

Ap Dijksterhuis

Unconscious thought theory (UTT) was introduced by Dijksterhuis in 2004. He presented 5 experiments showing that people make better decisions when they thought about it unconsciously rather than consciously. The argument is that conscious thought is not capable of handling all the complex information that we need to process in order to make good decisions. In experiment 2 participants in the conscious thought condition reported only using a subset of the information provided to make their decision.

Dijksterhuis wanted to get away from the artificial information that people are provided in a laboratory setting and see what happens when they have to rely on their own knowledge about a subject to make decisions. Dijksterhuis and colleagues designed an experiment were subjects had to rate their level of expertise on soccer, then pick win, lose, or draw for four upcoming soccer matches in the Dutch league. Participants were placed in one of the following conditions: choose within 20 seconds of seeing the matches, given two minutes to deliberate (conscious), or distracted for two minutes (unconscious), then asked to choose. Results show that nonexperts do about as well in all conditions but experts perform better in the unconscious thought condition. They replicated the study using World Cup matches since there is a more objective way to measure expertise with national team world ranking rather than asking participants to self-report expertise. The pattern of results was similar to the first study.

Ivo Valkenburg

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