John A Bargh Ph.D.
Bargh has been fascinated by the existential questions of free will and personal responsibility since reading BF Skinner's "Beyond Freedom and Dignity" while taking a high school psychology class. Thirty years ago in graduate school at Michigan he initiated an empirical approach to these questions using priming and subliminal presentation techniques to trigger internal states such as attitudes and intentions without the person's conscious awareness. This research has consistently shown that these external triggers produce social judgments, social behavior, and motivations in an entirely unconscious manner. These findings suggest that conscious processes are not necessary to produce the higher mental processes, including social judgment and behavior, and have clear implications for those basic questions of free will and personal responsibility.