A recent Dutch review study has revealed that our brain is always taking crucial decisions for us even though we may not be consciously aware of them.
The findings of Utrecht University's Department of Psychology appear in the journal Science.
In the study, scientists reviewed experiments in behavioural psychology going back over the past quarter century.
In one experiment first performed 25 years ago, scientists analysed the time it takes a person to move their finger, an action that seems instantaneous to the participant.
We know it takes a certain amount of time for nerve impulses to travel from the brain to finger, but the person does not experience this time. This suggests the brain has already 'decided' to 'move' the finger before the person's conscious awareness of the decision.
Other experiments involved participants playing games. When subliminal triggers and messages (referred to by the researchers as 'priming factors') were introduced in the environment, they brought about a change in the participant's behaviour without their conscious knowledge, reports ABC Science.
For instance, participants playing certain games found that when they were subliminally exposed to words like 'win', 'achieve' or 'make money' it had a bearing on the way they played these games and gave a boost to their performance.
The researchers also refer to two recent studies that found when people enter an office, they become more competitive when seeing a leather briefcase placed on the desk; and they cleaned their table more when there was the scent of cleaning agent in the air, though they were not consciously aware of the effects of these primers.
The researchers conclude many of our decisions about our partners and friends, our purchasing choices, our health, are made unconsciously, without the conscious brain ever being aware of it.
However, why this should be so isn't clearly understood.