Free Will: Who is Really in Control of Your Mind?

Do you control your brain? Or does your brain control you? Certain neurological studies have discovered the peculiar relationship between your brain and the actions you take.

By Sumner Griffin

Do you prefer Coke or Pepsi? When asked this question in a research setting, a group of subjects were able to clearly state which carbonated beverage they preferred and why. When these same subjects were given cups filled with an equal volume of both sodas, but were unlabeled, the subjects were equally likely to choose either beverage regardless of their previously stated opinion. What’s more is that these same subjects often said they preferred the soda opposite of what they had previously stated, when given a cup labelled with their preference but filled with the opposite liquid.

            The human brain is a tremendously complex machine with many levels and multiple systems functioning and firing simultaneously. One of these systems is the subliminal, or unconscious part of our brains. This ‘tier’ of our brain is responsible for many of the primal instincts that kept early humans alive and allowed our species to make it this far. This system of brain functionality is prevalent in many of the animals that live alongside us humans. For example, when a carnivorous mammal’s stomach is becoming empty, the mammal’s brain will send a subliminal signal to the body and the mammal will then go find food. This system is very similar and ever-present within humans, although our brains are slightly more complex than simple mammals with the addition of our perceived conscious reality.

            In his book, Subliminal, Leonard Mlodinov writes “We perceive, we remember our experiences, we make judgements, we act–and in all of these endeavors we are influenced by factors we are not aware of.” 

            If we really are influenced by things that we are consciously unaware of, how can we identify them? A great way to do this is to recall and reflect on a recent event. Try to remember every tiny detail of your surrounding environment. Generally, clues to your actions will be hidden around you.

In the early 2010’s a finance professor from the University of Massachusetts looked into the relationship between weather and the performance of America’s economy. Before RobinHood and WeBull came around, traders lived and worked in New York City, and stocks, bonds, ETFs, etc. were all traded by hand or over the phone. This meant that all those traders would have to experience the weather within New York City on their way to and from work. From analyzing data from 1927-1990, it was found that both very sunny and very cloudy days had a positive and negative influence on the overall stock price, respectively.

Countless other studies have proven the same thing, time and time again. When it comes to control, what we perceive in our conscious realities is directly influenced by our subliminal minds. In short, we have no real control over ourselves or our reality unless we learn to utilize the ‘tools we have been given’, as my mother would say.