What Are Examples of Automatic Processing?

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The examples of automatic processing include common activities such as speaking, walking, assembly-line work, bicycle riding and driving a car down a street. After practicing the activity sufficiently, one can then focus his mind on various other thoughts and activities while doing that automatic activity; for example, speaking or planning a speech while at the same time driving a car.

Automatic processing is comprised of three categories: preconscious, which occurs right before conscious awareness; postconscious, which produces an outcome that is not intended and that requires conscious processing; and goal-dependent, which requires a goal to initiate the processing.

Preconscious processing is the automatic triggering of an event to a proximal stimulus and occurs in the absence of or prior to the conscious awareness of the event. It is mostly unnoticeable, nearly effortless or even uncontrollable.

Postconscious processing depends on a conscious experience that occurred recently, and it is automatic. It is the consequence that is unconscious. The experience could be either intentional or unintentional.

Goal-dependent processing automatically involves thought processes and skills that require a goal. Just like postconscious processing, to be initiated, it requires conscious awareness, but it can later be guided outside that awareness using the unconscious mind.