I start with a review of 20 years of proposals on the functions of consciousness. I then present a minimal number of functions that consciouness subserves, as well as as some remaining puzzles about its psychology. In the process I stress a psychologist's functional approach, asking what consciousness is for. The result is an attempt to place conscious processes within the usual flow of human information processing.
Experimental psychology in the early 20th century was targeted by several authors who described a crisis— often expressed as a lack of theoretical and experimental progress. In the 21st century, the crisis of competing theories has been largely overcome but several current emphases hinder the development of a mature experimental science. Central among these are an ethnocentrism that focuses on Western standards and populations, neuroscientism which often treats neurological evidence independently of mental and behavioral events, and the tendency for demonstration (...) experiments to replace coordinated theoretical approaches. (shrink)
Identical twins have attracted special attention for the study of behavior genetics. Some of the assumptions and results of these studies are reviewed with special attention given to the natural experiment of identical twins adopted by different families. However, the correlation for any behavior between the adopted twins of a monozygotic pair is affected by their common prenatal environment as well as by the pervasive similarity of the two adoptive environments. The genetic contribution to complex social phenomena, but also to (...) physical characteristics such as height, is usually overestimated. Both for adopted and unadopted twins differential effects of cultural, family, and prenatal environments, and the correlated experiences of twins and their physical appearance affect their development. Taxonomies and samples of environments need to be examined in order to be able to estimate the genetic contributions to behavioral traits. (shrink)
The notion that human associative learning is a usually conscious, higher-order process is one of the tenets of organization theory, developed over the past century. Propositional/sequential encoding is one of the possible types of organizational structures, but learning may also involve other structures.
Wegner's refutation of the notion of a conscious free will is addressed to a general reader. Despite a wide ranging and instructive survey and a conclusion acceptable to current psychological thinking, it is flawed by terminological confusions and lack of attention to relevant evidence and previous psychological approaches. It is suggested that psychology best drop the term will altogether.