The Defects In The Conventional Wisdom Of Always Trusting Your Gut And Intuition

The Defects In The Conventional Wisdom Of Always Trusting Your Gut And Intuition


From Flickr

How often have you kicked yourself for not trusting your instinct when making a decision? For not going with your gut feeling? Well, it turns out that might have been the wisest decision–ignoring your intuition.

Interestingly, some 45 percent of corporate executives now rely more on instinct than on facts and figures in running their businesses, found decision-making consultant Gary Klein, author of the book “Intuition at Work.” But this might not make for the best business moves.

Making an informed, fact-filled decision is better in the long run.

1. Your gut isn’t trustworthy: Intuition is when you interpret and reach conclusions about something without conscious thought, meaning there is no basis of fact behind the thought. And the decision could be based on memories.

2. Biases and flaws: Experts say human thought is full of biases and flaws. So decisions made on gut feelings are not generally the clearest-thought-out decision. “We naturally give more weight to information that confirms our assumptions and prejudices, for example, while dismissing information that would call them into question,” reported the Harvard Business Review in a 2003 article.

3. We like patterns: Humans have a “deep-seated need to see patterns,” and pattern recognition is at the core of intuition. Again, making the decision in this case is based on feelings and not facts.

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4. Intuition can’t handle complex problems: “The more complex the situation, the more misleading intuition becomes. In a truly chaotic environment—where cause and effect no longer have a linear relationship—the last thing you want to do is try to apply patterns to it,” according to the Harvard Business Review.

5. Narrow thinking: Our need to find patterns causes us to narrow our thinking and not consider all the factors when making decisions.

6. Intuition masks “me-too thinking”: Apparently, according to experts, intuition is not uniquely our own. “In today’s global village, with its instantaneous and unceasing communications, human existence has become homogenized—we share the same experiences, the same opinions, even the same thoughts. We live in a vast echo chamber, and the voice of intuition we hear inside our heads is increasingly the same voice that speaks to everyone else,” the Harvard Business Review reported.

7. Trusting your intuition might have an unexpected dark side: A study published in the scientific journal Journal of Research in Personality revealed that following your intuition might also have an unexpected dark side. Researchers Sarah J. Ward from Columbia University and Laura A. King from the University of Missouri-Columbia looked at the relationship between intuition and magical beliefs and whether gender might play a special role in this relationship. Seems a “women’s intuition” might be tied to the tendency of women to place more faith in magical beliefs, Psychology Today reported.

8. Gut feelings feel good: Although we usually say gut feelings warn us about dangers, the feeling itself actually makes us feel good–and because of this, gut feelings are not trustworthy. Annaliese McGavin, a cognitive neuroscientist and psychologist, told the Sydney Morning Herald that more neurons (information messengers) are wrapped around our gut linings than in our brains. In fact, 90-95 percent of serotonin–the happiness chemical–is made in the gut.

“The gut-brain connection is exciting. Researchers are still understanding the relationship,” McGavin says. “We don’t necessarily believe from the science side that the gut is directly involved in decision-making – it’s more indirectly involved. It forms part of your intuition. The brain picks up on subconscious cues from the environment and also internally, from our gut. For example, the gut might tell us whether we’re holding an anxious tension.”

9. Don’t trust the gut, unless…: According to Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman in the book “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” you should never trust your gut unless you can say yes to three questions. The questions are:

  • Is there actually some regularity in this area you can pick up and learn? Intuition is rooted in experience, and for your gut to recognize trends and patterns, reliable trends and patterns must actually exist, Inc. reported.
  • Have you had a lot of practice in this area? Successful intuitions are developed from long observation of environments with some level of pattern and regularity, so good gut instincts need practice.
  • Do you receive immediate feedback in the area? Psychology shows that if you want to train your intuition, “you have to know almost immediately whether you got it right or got it wrong,” Kahneman explained.

From Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bionicteaching/14433309976