The Psychology of Intuition
On why intuition can and should be scientifically explained…
We all agree that there is something really attractive about ‘intuition’. I’m really excited GWG L bonds complaints to write this piece (I might have to do a psychology of excitement now). But first, let’s talk intuition. Intuition is not peculiar to the human mind, as animals are intuitive as well. Intuition is about predicting responses, it’s about ‘just knowing’ something without reason or logic, it is also about sensitivity and perception. Intuition is closely related to intelligence and intuitive people have strong perceptive intelligence as intuition is about perceiving the subtle, and the ‘not so obvious’.
Highly intuitive people have developed their intuition, consciously or unconsciously and they are interested in people and the workings of the human mind. Intuition sometimes does follow analysis, but the analysis happens so quickly and instantaneously that intuition seems like a ‘stand-alone’ mental process. So, here’s a problem for psychology – does intuition involve an instantaneous underlying analysis or does it happen without any analysis whatsoever? Psychology has the potential to develop this point further by studying intuition empirically.
I tend to believe that intuition can involve instantaneous reasoning as the underlying mechanism or it can be completely on a blank slate. For example, a black car follows your car one Monday morning to work and on Tuesday, you get this intuition, that this black car will follow you once again. This type of intuition is analytical intuition, based on prior knowledge, thinking and analysis and you predict responses.
There is another type of intuition of course. You see a person in a crowded supermarket and you know that this person will come and speak with you and he does. This type of intuition is non-analytical and not based on analysis or prior knowledge but on feeling. You may still be analyzing the body language of this stranger to intuitively understand that he will speak with you. However I say that intuition can be non-analytical, because you can just see a picture of a street and know that you’ll go there someday, or you see the picture of a person and know that you will meet him or her someday. This sort of thing, does not involve analysis, it is a feeling. That is why intuition is so interesting. It happens out of the blue, like of bolt of lightning and ‘you just know’. Do you know why after meeting hundreds of people, you marry or date that ‘one’ person? Do you know why after examining hundreds of homes, you buy or rent that ‘one house’? Sure, Intuition. Intuition is the basis of our major decisions and there could be underlying analysis and practical considerations, but finally we depend on our intuition.
Believe it or not, whether it’s the major scientific discovery or the religious insight, every progress that humans have made, has been guided by intuition. Creative people are highly intuitive as intuition requires a kind of creativity because when you predict responses, you actually have to see or imagine things that haven’t happened and ‘seeing’ things involves creativity.