Software Creation Mystery -

Do we have conscious control over our actions?

New Scientists reports that 80 per cent of human behavior is largely automatic and determined by instincts alone. Most of the time we are simply reacting instinctively to the world around us. Only afterwards we make up reasons to explain what we did. Our brains routinely push the control of some activities from conscious to unconscious, such as playing musical instruments or driving a car. Surprisingly, this automatic control influencing important matters such as economic decisions and our dealing with others.
Perhaps, the best way to understand human behavior is to ignore the supposedly rational, consciously generated actions of individuals.


  1. We often use an automatic behavior even in complex social interactions as in software development. So, it is possible to predict the behavior of team members in more than 80% situations according to the article. It also means that the team will consistently repeat successful or failing patterns of interactions. How can we increase occurrence of successful  and eliminate failing outcomes ? Should we force to turn our conscious more often?
  2. Do we use automatic thinking while programming? Is this always only conscious effort as we should expect?  If we use unconscious thinking, how does it effect our results?
  3. It is another prove for the correctness of the description of human mind in one of my posts – The Mind of the Programmer 🙂
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Although scientists say that 80 percent of human behavior is largely automatic, they are forgetting an important detail. I think of this detail as similar to computer programming. It takes a conscious effort (well for beginners at least) to write code for a program, but once the code is there the computer (unconscious mind) knows it and can run it without that beginner programmer writing (conscious mind) the code again. This is very much true for driving cars or playing piano (I do both). Neither of these are installed without prior programming.

What I’m trying to say, is that we program our instincts. It is a conscious effort or receiving of information. That is why I think you should repeal your comment “Perhaps, the best way to understand human behavior is to ignore the supposedly rational, consciously generated actions of individuals.”

Comment by Ryan | July 10, 2008 3:16 pm

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Software Creation Mystery -
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