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Neuron. 2008 Nov 6;60(3):503-10. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2008.10.032.

Implicit and explicit processes in social cognition.

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Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London, London, WC1N 3AR UK.


In this review we consider research on social cognition in which implicit processes can be compared and contrasted with explicit, conscious processes. In each case, their function is distinct, sometimes complementary and sometimes oppositional. We argue that implicit processes in social interaction are automatic and are often opposed to conscious strategies. While we are aware of explicit processes in social interaction, we cannot always use them to override implicit processes. Many studies show that implicit processes facilitate the sharing of knowledge, feelings, and actions, and hence, perhaps surprisingly, serve altruism rather than selfishness. On the other hand, higher-level conscious processes are as likely to be selfish as prosocial.

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