Choice Awareness and Manipulation Blindness: A cognitive semiotic exploration of choice-making and memory.

Project Details


This thesis, through the prism of cognitive semiotics, explores the phenomenon of choice in its relation to memory, introducing a two-level hierarchy of choice-making. Through an experiment based on preference it investigates the way different factors, such as memory, consequence, and affectivity influence our choice- awareness. Forty-three participants were assigned two tasks combining 1) choices with a different degree of consequence (more/less) – based on different task instructions, and 2) a different degree of affectivity (high/low) – based on stimuli with different degree of abstractness. Participants were first asked to state their preference between two alternatives (choice) and then to confirm whether some of the (chosen and non-chosen) pictures that were presented to them belonged to their choices (memory). Lastly, they were asked to justify the reasons for their choices, although some of the trials had been manipulated (i.e. the preferred card was switched with the non- preferred one) (manipulation). Half of the manipulations were detected, while the majority of detections (75%) occurred for the choices participants remembered correctly. While consequence did not seem to influence detection, affectivity did. Unlike other choice experiments that investigate “blindness”, the results indicate that manipulation blindness is subject to varying factors, such as memory and affectivity, implying that we are aware of our choices and that we have, to different degrees, access to our intentional acts.
Short titleMA thesis
Effective start/end date2018/01/012019/02/01

UKÄ subject classification

  • Humanities
  • Languages and Literature
  • Other Humanities


  • cognitive semiotics, phenomenology, consciousness, remembering