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Assumptions of Subjective Measures of Unconscious Mental States: Higher Order Thoughts and Bias

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This paper considers two subjective measures of the existence of unconscious mental states - the guessing criterion, and the zero correlation criterion - and considers the assumptions underlying their application in experimental paradigms. Using higher order thought theory (Rosenthal, e.g. 1986; 1995) the impact of different types of biases on the zero correlation and guessing criteria are considered. It is argued that subjective measures of consciousness can be biased in various specified ways, some of which involve the relation between first order states and second order thoughts, and hence are not errors in measurement of the conscious status of mental states; but other sorts of biases are measurement errors, involving the relation between higher order thoughts and their expression. Nonetheless, it is argued this type of bias does not preclude subjective measures - both the guessing criterion and the zero correlation criterion - as being amongst the most appropriate and useful tools for measuring the conscious status of mental states.
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Keywords: artificial grammar learning; confidence; consciousness; higher order thoughts; implicit learning; subjective threshold; subliminal perception

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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