A look at the power of intuition

In a world that has become increasingly complex, scientists and philosophers are looking to intuition as an age-old mechanism that can improve our decision making. Could tapping into those gut feelings really help someone live better?

The concept of intuition has always been difficult to nail down. Often described as a feeling or an insight that arises from the gut area, intuition is a form of intelligence that doesn’t require the use of conscious reasoning. Only recently have researchers been able to better measure the role that intuition plays in decision- making, as well as its actual utility.

This study shows how intuition—the mental ping that comes from non-conscious emotional information—can help people make faster, more confident and more accurate decisions. 

What’s the science behind intuition?

In an article on Scientific American, which investigated the reliability of intuition, researchers discovered that it can have advantages and disadvantages—with cognitive scientists arguing that we should mix both analytical and intuitive approaches for optimal decision making. On one hand, Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel prize winner in economics and the author of “Thinking Fast and Slow,” proposes we have two thinking systems: fast (instinct and intuition) and slow (reason and critical thinking), each of which can play a superior role depending on the context. On the other hand, Gerd Gigerenzer of the Max Planck Institute in Berlin argues that no decision can be made exclusively with reason alone—especially given complex issues—and that we always employ intuition, otherwise known as “unconscious intelligence.”

Encouraging intuitive openness

As we become aware of so many variables, disciplines, and various forms of perspectives on any given subject—it’s common to feel information overload. In a world with a myriad of people, places, possibilities and an exceptional exposure to endless options, thinking intuitively could be the remedy to our analysis paralysis. Individually, how can we encourage intuitive openness and respect the hunches of our fellow partners, friends and colleagues?