Unmasking the Hidden Influences on Our Behavior - Lessons from Leonard Mlodinow's 'Subliminal'

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2023-05-03 - 01:20

Are you curious about how your unconscious mind affects your behavior? Well, let me tell you a story that might shed some light on this intriguing topic.

Have you ever walked past a house with a dog barking at you, and wondered why the dog is behaving that way? After all, you're not doing anything threatening, so why is the dog barking at you? The answer lies in the dog's unconscious mind - it's simply responding to a perceived threat based on instincts that are deeply ingrained in its psyche.

But what about humans? How does our unconscious mind influence our behavior? This is the question that Leonard Mlodinow's book, "Subliminal," explores in depth. Mlodinow delves into the fascinating world of the unconscious mind and how it shapes our perceptions, beliefs, and actions without us even realizing it.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at Mlodinow's book and explore some of the key insights he provides. From the role of emotions in decision-making to the impact of our past experiences on our present behavior, we'll uncover some of the fascinating ways that our unconscious mind influences our lives.

So, if you're ready to dive into the depths of your own psyche and discover the hidden forces that shape your behavior, then come along for the ride! We promise it'll be an eye-opening journey that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the power of your unconscious mind.

The Visual Dominance Ratio

The concept of the unconscious mind and its role in human behavior is something that has fascinated scientists for decades. In his book "Subliminal," Leonard Mlodinow explores this concept in depth and reveals how much of our behavior is actually driven by our unconscious minds.

One of the interesting concepts that Mlodinow delves into is the visual dominance ratio. This ratio is used to determine social dominance and is based on the amount of time that someone spends looking at another person's face during social interactions. According to Mlodinow, bosses and people with social power tend to have a higher visual dominance ratio than those who are lower on the social ladder.

This phenomenon can be seen in modern human society, where people in positions of power often hold eye contact for longer periods of time and use it as a means of asserting their dominance. It's a subtle, unconscious behavior that can have a profound impact on the way that people interact with one another. By understanding the visual dominance ratio and how it affects our behavior, we can gain a deeper understanding of the unconscious factors that shape our social interactions.

The Way You Speak

Have you ever thought about how your voice affects how others perceive you? Well, it turns out that your voice can have a significant impact on your credibility and overall perception. Let's dive into how your voice can affect the way others view you.

Firstly, the pitch of your voice can play a significant role in how you are perceived. Studies have found that people with higher-pitched voices are often perceived as being less credible and less empathetic than those with lower-pitched voices. Additionally, a study from Duke University found that people with lower-pitched voices are more likely to be perceived as dominant, while those with higher-pitched voices are perceived as submissive.

The timbre of your voice can also affect how others perceive you. People with smooth, pleasant-sounding voices are often perceived as being more credible and trustworthy. On the other hand, people with harsh, raspy voices may be perceived as being less credible and less trustworthy.

Volume, cadence, and speed are also factors that can affect how you are perceived. Speaking too quietly can make you seem timid or unsure of yourself, while speaking too loudly can make you come across as aggressive or overbearing. Similarly, speaking too quickly or too slowly can affect your perceived level of intelligence and confidence.

Your voice can have a significant impact on how others perceive you. The pitch, timbre, volume, cadence, and speed of your voice all play a role in your credibility and overall perception. So, next time you're trying to make a good impression, consider how your voice may be affecting how you are perceived.

The Above-Average Effect

Have you ever thought you were better than average at something? Perhaps you consider yourself an above-average driver, or maybe you believe you're more intelligent than most people. This tendency to overestimate our abilities is known as the above-average effect.

The above-average effect is a cognitive bias that causes people to rate themselves as better than average on a particular trait or skill. This bias can be seen in various areas of life, including academic performance, social skills, and physical abilities.

Studies have shown that people tend to rate themselves as above average in a variety of areas. For example, one study found that 94% of college professors rated themselves as above average in terms of their teaching ability. Another study showed that 60% of high school seniors rated themselves in the top 10% of their ability to get along with others.

The above-average effect can lead to overconfidence and unrealistic self-perception. For instance, a person who overestimates their driving skills may take unnecessary risks on the road, leading to accidents. In contrast, a person who underestimates their ability to perform a task may miss out on opportunities or fail to reach their full potential.

The above-average effect can have significant implications for our self-perception and behavior. By recognizing this bias, we can take steps to adjust our self-perception and avoid the negative consequences of overconfidence.


In conclusion, friendships are an essential part of our lives, and it's important to surround ourselves with people who uplift and support us. However, not all friendships are created equal, and toxic friendships can do more harm than good. It's crucial to identify signs of toxicity in our friendships and take necessary steps to avoid them.

One of the most significant signs of a toxic friendship is an unbalanced give-and-take dynamic. If you find yourself constantly giving and not receiving, it might be time to re-evaluate the friendship. Similarly, excessive criticism, lack of respect, and lack of support are all indicators of a toxic friendship. Trust and communication are also vital components of healthy friendships, and if they're lacking, it's time to reassess the relationship.

Toxic friendships are often characterized by constant drama and chaos, whereas healthy friendships bring joy and positivity into our lives. It's important to prioritize our mental and emotional health and surround ourselves with people who make us feel good about ourselves.

In conclusion, healthy friendships require mutual respect, support, trust, communication, and positivity. If you identify signs of toxicity in your friendships, don't be afraid to distance yourself and prioritize your well-being. Remember, it's okay to outgrow friendships that no longer serve you, and it's better to be alone than in bad company.