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The Science of Intuition

Whether you call it “gut feeling”, or a “sixth sense”, intuition plays a part in how people make decisions.

Recently, researchers devised a technique to measure “intuition” and the result was that people can use their intuition to make faster, more accurate and more confident decisions.

“Intuition” is a brain process that gives us the ability to make decisions without analytical reasoning, and that “gut feelings” are a valid source of information according to researchers.

Previous studies didn’t actually measure intuition because researchers didn’t know how to quantify it, relaying on information from questionnaires asking “how were you feeling when you made a decision” which is more a measure of opinions of their intuition than an actual measurement of it. The new research used a series of experiments to determine whether people were using their intuition to guide their judgment and decision.

“Intuition” is defined as the influence of “non -conscious information”, instinctual feelings or sensations. In the experiments, groups of students were  showed small black-and-white dots moving around on one half of a computer screen, and stating as if the dots were generally moving to the left or to the right.

On the other side of the  screen, they saw a bright, flashing square of color that sometimes, had  embedded  images in the colored square to trigger an emotional response:  A positive emotion like a puppy or a baby, or a negative emotion like a gun or a snake. Participants were not aware of the images as they flashed at speeds too fast to be consciously perceived, and were meant to simulate the type of information perceived by intuition.

The results showed that when the participants were shown positive images, they were more accurate in determining which way the dots were moving, and felt more confident in their choice.