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Article review Essay


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Article review



This paper is an article review of the work by Bernhard Hommel published on-line in Frontiers in Psychology titled Dancing in the dark: no role for consciousness in action control (2013).  In this article, the author attempts to provide a basis for his argument that consciousness plays no significant role in controlling human actions.

Hommel v points out that the implying consciousness has a role to play in necessitating human control is executive ignorance. If individuals have the ability to control their own actions by reason of relating to conscious experiences then they should be in a position to offer concrete reports as to how occured and offer the information supporting the need to exercise such body controls. The author provides that available literature on this matter provides that individuals are often coerced into relating artificial effectors as parts of their physical beings (2013). On the same note, actions of other individuals are often perceived by such individuals as being their own actions. Therefore cognitive-psychological tasks performed on a daily basis cannot be supported by conscious experiences as invoking such experiences takes time thus the efficiency with which this tasks are undertaken negates supporting the role of consciousness.

The second argument that Hommel provides is based on the lack of specificity of actions considered as being governed by consciousness (2013). As much as consciousness is said not influence action control, there are some instances where the contrary occurs. However, where this is the case, the time taken, flexibility and premeditated application of represented data for action control is greatly increased. Research points out that the expected conflict induced cognitive adaptations tend to be absent (Leontiev, 2014). Such instances also tend to be non representative as well as non specific with voluntary action control.  This is supported by findings providing that trial sessions involving repeated stimuli and responses have to be numerous so as to to induce desired effects under normal conditions of automatic action control responses.

To further support his argument, Hommel provides that the human brain is noisy such that representing the desired quality of a given piece of data tends to vary with time as well as frequency of trial sessions (2013). To support a causal attribute, there arises the need to demonstrate in part that limiting conscious representation while maintaining signal quality as well as threshold setting tends to impair action control. Hommel (2013) provides that to date, no strong evidence supports actions are consciously controlled.

The author proceeds to define why consciousness plays an important role in enabling human action (2013). He provides that this is important in social interactions where individuals are able to map out their plans top other individuals, define which role some individuals play in a given action plan, evaluate outcomes and discuss the suitability of alternative plans of action. This enables social predictability while at the same time minimizing uncertainty. This enhances communication enabling individuals to describe and make attempts to understand their own behavior with respect to social interactions. This also allows for self managements and more so social impression management.

In conclusion, the role of consciousness has presented scholars with major challenges in understanding its critical role in individual actions stemming from the fact that even defining consciousness is itself difficult. I however agree with the author on the fact that action control is independent of consciousness but has a important role in human social interactions.



Hommel, B. (2013). Dancing in the dark: no role for consciousness in action control. Frontiers in psychology, 4.

Leontiev, A. N. (2014). Activity and consciousness. Revista Dialectus, (4).