Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary

Maybe it helps to be conscious, after all

Roy F. Baumeistera1, Kathleen D. Vohsa2 and E. J. Masicampoa3

a1 Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306–4301.

a2 Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455.

a3 Department of Psychology, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC 27109.


Psychologists debate whether consciousness or unconsciousness is most central to human behavior. Our goal, instead, is to figure out how they work together. Conscious processes are partly produced by unconscious processes, and much information processing occurs outside of awareness. Yet, consciousness has advantages that the unconscious does not. We discuss how consciousness causes behavior, drawing conclusions from large-scale literature reviews.

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