Intuition

Intuition

Using Intuition

We think of intuition as a magical phenomenon—but hunches are formed out of our past experiences and knowledge. So while relying on gut feelings doesn't always lead to good decisions, it's not nearly as flighty a tactic as it may sound.

Intuition is your brain on autopilot, performing its actions of processing information outside of your awareness that it's operating. It's nonconscious thinking. Can you trust intuition? It helps to know that the kind of automatic information processing that underlies intuition is something you probably experience all the time. Consider that phenomenon known as "highway hypnosis," when you drive the car for miles without a conscious thought. Or you walk down a street, get lost in thought, and find yourself at your destination without awareness of the processes that got you there. Nonconscious processes also operate in complex decision-making. Often enough, we just don't give them credit. We cite rational-sounding criteria for our actions and do not disclose the subjective preferences of feelings that arise spontaneously. There is no substitute for gathering information about any task or situation before us. But neither should we be afraid of not knowing every reason why we feel the way we do in every situation.

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