Behavioural scientists have identified three distinct modes of human thinking that are relevant to understanding how people respond to sensory stimuli, to make decisions, and/or to anticipate outcomes or consequences from decisions.
- Implicit thinking is used within moments of experience where sensory memories enable rapid, non-conscious decisions of little consequence.
- Explicit thinking is reserved for important moments where decisions have consequence or when information is new and different.
- Prospective thinking involves the anticipation of outcomes from past sensory memories.
Together, these three modes account for how consumers or shoppers react in the moment of, or in anticipation of, a natural experience, as well as how participants react and respond within sensory and consumer studies.