Automatic Thinking

Automatic thinking is an unconscious, inadvertent, involuntary thinking, not demanding efforts and resulting in the thoughts, appearing automatically. It is a habit to think equally in this or that situation due to the domination of definite cognitive stereotypes. This type of thinking is inherent in the majority of healthy people, who acquired certain models of thinking and do not intend to change them, even despite the made mistakes. According to social psychologists, the first occurring thoughts in minds of people are more adequate and realistic than those, occurring due to own active intellectual efforts.

This phenomenon received the name “availability heuristic”. The first thing, which comes to mind, seems, firstly, belonging to oneself, not borrowed from outside, and, secondly, true, owing to the subjectivity of the feeling of evidence, not subject to doubt. For example, it includes the answers to the test questions if the examinee does not reflect over the questions. Such answers, are not always adequate, and there is the possibility of the opinion of the other person.

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The automatic thinking occurs itself, being carried out as the program, beginning and coming to the end independently, without a will, permission and control of a person. However, it is not correct when thinking controls people, but not people control thinking. The developed personality controls own thinking, as well as other tools of life. The ability to control the thinking develops, as well as any other ability, and is the simplest one to seize own thinking, doing it external in the beginning: through the writing and external speech.

For example, knowing the rules of positive and constructive thinking, I do the written analysis of this or that situation in the beginning, I govern it and come to the reasonable conclusions. When it becomes a habit, the rules of thinking gradually become natural, and thinking becomes more controlled. In usual life, in a habitual situation when the information in my head is digested and expressed automatically; there is no necessity to think. It is possible to live simply because everything that is necessary for me, occurs. Without thinking of anything, nevertheless, I always know that I am right, and any new information, which comes to my mind, enters the already available cells and is understood as already habitual, known and old. For example, the question “Why is sugar dissolved in water?” gives an automatic answer in my head “Well, it is a chemical reaction”. Another example of the automatic thinking in my life shows that when I want to cross a street, I stop, look one side, then another side, see a car, at once understand that it is far from me, and I will be able to cross a street quietly. 

These examples show that my brain counts the distance to the other side of a street, distance to the next car, its speed, and possible speed of my body and the need of crossing a street exactly here and now. It is an automatic thinking. At the level of automatic thinking a lot of my daily issues are solved. Automatic thinking allows receiving a ready assessment or directiom to action which is easily used in practice. There are no grounds for doubts in these cases, as my automatic thinking relies on direct knowledge.


The process of communication can be easily presented in the simplest form, as a transfer of certain data. The sender encodes the information by means of a code system. The full communicative between the partners in this case can be achieved only when the contents and value of the used codes and signs were established in advance between them. The success of communication is achieved only in the case when the participants of communication possess the general possibility of interpretation of a certain sign. These processes compose the key components of any act of communication. In this regard, a problem of coding and decoding of information is of a vital importance in the course of communication.

Encoding is the process of coding of thoughts, feelings, and emotions in the form, recognized by the others. For this purpose a person uses the symbols, which can be written, verbal, nonverbal, mathematical, musical, etc. A message is a set of such symbols. The ways of coding and decoding of messages are formed under the influence of a human experience, which is understood not only as an individual experience, but also as an experience of a group, to which a person belongs, and also experience of the culture, representing a person.

Encoding is the process of change of the incoming message from its initial form to a certain another form (for example, the transformation of the nervous impulses proceeding from a receptor in the feeling, a phenomenon of a mental one). The ability and aspiration to encode and decode the messages depend on a social status and gender of interlocutors to a great extent. In general, the following regularity is observed: the higher a person’s social status is, the less requirement to use the sophisticated ways of encoding of statements he or she has. The high-status people are expected to give not hints or unclear utterances, but self-confident, categorical, energetic, even rough statements. Against the statements of people with a lower social status the judgment of high-status people look unusually, make a strong impression and are better remembered.

People with a low status or a self-assessment (uncertain, disturbing) are not able to afford direct, open judgments. Different sociopaths like flatterers, liars, bootlickers, authoritative persons, manipulators use or do not use difficult encoding depending on situations. There is also the same regularity with gender distinctions, like with status distinctions. In general, women show better abilities of encoding of messages than men. 

In my life, I see a lot of examples of encoding in my life. My parents use encoding in their mutual relations, which I see every day. Thus, when my mother is cold, she says to my father: “I am cold, what about you?” The task of my father is to decode the information, told by his wife. Which message was put to this question by my mother? I think there can be several variants of decoding. 

  1. A direct meaning of the message without any implication: my mother is cold.
  2. The told contains the offer – a request for physical intimacy.
  3. A hint that my father is a bad head of the family and a housekeeper, because it is cold in our house.

The example of encoding and decoding of messages in my family shows that due to the ability of my parents to encode and decode mutual messages, my family relations develop better, and satisfaction with marriage of my parents is high, than in the couples with a bad mutual understanding and disagreement of encoding and decoding of messages. Thus, regardless of a status or gender accessory, most of people use a complex system of coding if the conversation concerns such subjects which are usually called “inconvenient” or “ticklish”. Despite the fact that a language is only a system of the signs of reality, it starts gaining the nature of quasireality for a person owing to its close connection with reality. In other words, a language starts being perceived not as a sign of a thing (reality), but as a thing itself (reality).

Nonverbal communication

Nonverbal communication is a behavior of a person, which signals about the emotional states and nature of interaction of the communicating persons. The nonverbal means of communication are expressed in clothes, a hair dress, a mimicry, a pose and subjects, surrounding a person. The recognition and understanding of a similar behavior promotes the achievement of the most advanced stage of mutual understanding. A similar information allows to understand mood, experiences, expectations, feelings, intentions, and also moral and personal qualities of the communicating people.

Nonverbal communication includes the following main sign systems: 1) optokinetic, 2) extra linguistic, 3) an organization of time and space in the communicative process, 4) a visual contact. The set of these means is urged to fulfil the following functions: addition of a speech, replacement of a speech, representation of the emotional conditions of partners in a communicative process.

The optokinetic sign system consists of mimicry, pantomimic and gestures. In general, the optokinetic system is composed of the motility of a body’s parts, such as poses and hands. The “additives” to verbal communication include the extra linguistic sign system as well as a paralinguistic one. The former includes tonality, range of voice and its voice. The extra linguistic system represents an inclusion of pauses, or couching, crying, laughter into the speech. They strengthen the information, representing a sematic significance. Thus, for example, the placement of partners “face-to-face” allows them to create a contact. At the same time, there are standard criteria, existing in different subcultures of rather temporary characteristics of communication act as a kind of addition to the semantically significant information. In such spheres as, for example, diplomacy, delay is considered to be an absence of respect to a business partner.

The embraces compose one of the most widespread means of nonverbal communication. The value of the feelings expressed by a person is determined by the nature of embraces, their force and duration. Thus, for example, when I meet my old friends, we hug each other for a long time, thus showing how much we miss each other and how much valuable we are for each other. However, when I hug my relatives, the strength of my embraces can be different, as some of my relatives are close to me, and we have hot relations, while some of them are not very close to me and the embraces with them are cold and reserved.

The examples I described show the main features of nonverbal communication. Embraces show the intensity of nonverbal communication and its expressive character. The ability to the psychological interpretation of nonverbal behavior is considered as multicomponent, consisting of a number of abilities, the diagnostics of which assumes the appeal to various types of social, perceptual and communicative tasks. The integrated indicators of the level of development of ability to adequate interpretation of nonverbal behavior are: adequacy of recognition and understanding of various forms of nonverbal behavior; adequacy of the use of nonverbal patterns of behavior for the purpose of regulation of the relations and adequacy of management of an expression (coding).


The need for the coordinated behavior of people, fixation and preservation of the gained knowledge, their transfer from the generation to generation led to different manifestations of emblems. An emblem or a symbol compose one of the most multiple-valued concepts of culture. An emblem in culture is a universal category through which people can express all internal states. A communication process in this regard can be considered as an exchange of emblems by means of which there is a transfer of the necessary information.

Emblems are the conventional signs, gestures, designating some subjects, phenomena or processes. Their main features consist in the ability “to replace” real subjects or phenomena and to express information concluded in them. In different cultures, the emblems can be of different types. They include gestures, words, nonverbal means (handshakes, bows, greetings), material subjects. Thus, for example, a national flag symbolizes the belonging of the respective territory to this state or serves as an expression of loyalty of a citizen to the state. Owning to the portability of emblems, there is an opportunity to transfer a huge volume of knowledge from one generation to another. Books, pictures, movies, videos, computer disks help a culture to keep everything that can be useful for the subsequent generations.

Every culture creates own system of emblems and attaches a corresponding meaning to each emblem. However, cultures do not only fill the emblems with different meanins, but also use them for different purposes. Therefore, in the course of communication it is always important to remember that emblems are those only because a certain group of people agrees to accept them as emblems. There is often no natural connection between an emblem and its value. Their relations vary in different cultures. Therefore, a person unfamiliar with a flag emblem, will perceive it as piece of fabric attached to a stick. However, even within one culture the interpretation of a symbol vary depending on the experience of a person and a definite life situation in which it is. Night fantasies also compose emblems. They can be perceived and understood from the point of view of a person, having a definite knowledge, background and outlook.

My night fantasies may be an example of emblems in my life. There is a dream I see often at nights: “Doomsday. I am standing on an ocean coast and I see how the waves storm. At first, they are silent, but later they become stronger. And I see how the wave is approaching at my city. I understand that something terrible begins; I should run away. I run to my house, I close all doors and I feel that I am protected. However, the waves are reaching my house. However, there is no water in my house. I know that it is safe in my house, but at the same time I am afraid. I wake up.

There are four key emblems in my night fantasy: doomsday, storming ocean, city/house and motive of flooding. They belong to the category of universal emblems. In fact, a doomsday can be both a “good” emblem, and a “bad” one. I never experience fears when I see this dream. I am always ready for the changes in my life; and this dream puts end to the done work: the world falls, and the new world will open for me. The emblem of flooding often appears in my dreams. In my case it is a collective unconscious with my existential problems. This night fantasy shows my fears and reflects the emblems and symbols of my consciousness and unconsciousness. 

Display rules

A special role in the ordinary communication is played by situations when people express their feelings to each other. These situations arise much more often than people got used to think; they are not limited to the declarations of love or a struggle with a partner. The partners in communication almost constantly speak about own emotional states to each other, even without realizing it. It is possible even to speak about a continuous exchange of information, reporting about an emotional condition of partners. This exchange arises as a consequence of the expression of feelings inherent in each person, and also as the manifestation of expectations to feel an emotional condition of a partner.

The need for expression of feelings or internal motivation to show the emotions and experiences in some actions or a form of activity, is natural. However, the satisfaction of this requirement is a complex process, which is often satisfied only partially or in a random way. Each action of a person is somehow connected with his or her internal states. The traces of these states, looking through an outline of actions, can be noticed by others. However, not everything what a person does, is a direct consequence of his or her experiences. Often people behave in such a way to block the endured feelings. A person, experiencing sadness, can laugh loudly; another one, overwhelmed by rage, can say that he or she is delighted; the third, captured by fear, will show hostility.

There are three main display rules:

  • Communication, transfer of these or those messages about oneself and own emotional state. It is important when a person feels support and understanding from the side of his close relatives. It helps the best interaction and kind relations. In this case, the adequate formulations of messages on the feelings and emotional expressiveness are required both from the person expressing the feelings and a communicator.
  • Impact on the surrounding people or a partner. A cry of a child is not simply a current information for the regular consideration; it is an order for immediate reaction. Emotions do not simply transfer messages; they demand and inspire, attract and push away.
  • Emotional reactions, release from internal tension. People often express the feelings as those overflow them and create tension. In the course of an emotional reaction, expressing feelings, the internal simplification is achieved. An internal task includes an emotional reaction, though in reality it is limited to a low-constructive splash of emotions.

I often use the phrases like “You are beautiful” or “You are strict”, or “You are not objective”. All these statements help me to express my feelings and emotions. “You-statement” helps me to speak about another person, thus, expressing my emotions in relation to him/her. Sometimes, my energetic “You-statement” is a strong; sometimes it is an offensive splash of emotions. For example, I can say “You are fools” to my friends, when I want to convince them in my rightness. 

People seldom think why and how they express their feelings and show their emotional states. Most often it occurs impulsively; quite often, it is only automatism and a product of a habit. Thereof, the expression of feelings is a salad in which everything is mixed: both emotional reactions, and this or that way of influence. However, the higher the psychological culture and personal development of a person is, the more sensible he or she can control own emotions and feelings, subjects in more degree expression of emotions has a definite purpose and the addressee.

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