Monday, August 23, 2010

What your Subconscious Knows


I've started law school at the University of Virginia and, among many crazy-cool things going on, I wanted to briefly blog about the doors here. Specifically, the doors to a big inner courtyard at the law school.

The law school is a big square of four connected halls with a nice big pleasant courtyard in the middle of it all. The weird thing is that the fire marshal has designated the courtyard as "interior" space, so in the case of a fire you would have to leave the courtyard (through the building) and go to the "real" outside. What this means from a practical perspective is that the doors between the courtyard and the building open into the building.

Now, I know that doesn't sound like a big deal. We're all used to glancing at doors we're approaching and determining if they have a push-bar or pull-handles and acting accordingly. We don't even think about it, so who cares which way these doors open? I've found that my subconscious overrides that action when the doors in consideration are doors to the outside. The concept that, if I'm exiting a building, I can just push the doors and they'll open is deeply embedded in my mind. But in this case, even though I'm exiting the building into the courtyard, the doors open the opposite of what I would have expected, and I often find myself trying to push when I exit or pull when I enter and looking like a moron.

All of this is to say that your subconscious mind knows a lot more than you think it does. I don't have anything more profound to say than that, but I think it's cool and worth being reminded of.

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