Intuition can hardly be explained logically. It is not a set of actions that lead to a positive result. But at the same time, thanks to it, many people achieve success or make the right decisions. We talk about theories that try to explain this phenomenon in the material.
1. Dual process theory
In psychology, the dual process theory describes how people develop thoughts. There are only two ways: implicit (automatic) and explicit.
American psychologist Daniel Kahneman explains that the former is an unconscious process, that is, thoughts arise independently of the desire to think about something. They are empirical and intuitive. The second is when a person ponders something out of his own motives or as a result of a situation that has occurred. They are rational and logical.
Implicit thoughts can change as a person’s habits and beliefs change. It is with them that intuition is connected. It is based on knowledge that a person cannot find a reasonable explanation or arguments for. Such anticipation does not require much thought, so intuitive decisions can be made very quickly.
Kahneman, who acknowledges that both systems usually work when people think, has described many ways in which an intuitive system can cloud judgment. One such example is the framing effect, that is, the tendency to be influenced by the way a problem is posed or a question is asked.
2. The concept of bounded rationality
The study of the American scientist Herbert Simon in the 1950s was aimed at unraveling at least part of the phenomenon of intuition. He believed that people often make decisions based on assumptions about what will be good for them. This helps reduce cognitive load.
Instead of thinking logically and rationally, they resort to heuristics – rules of thumb that form judgments.
The recognition process is also important for intuition. It is inherent in a person by nature and is based on the functions of memory. The combination of recognition and heuristics helps people make intuitive decisions that come to them at an “automatic” level.
Gerd Gigerenzer of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin believes that the virtues of intuition are grossly underestimated. He views intuition as a form of unconscious intelligence.
3. Theory about the individuality of the type
This theory belongs to the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. It covers several personality traits, including intuition.
Jung considered intuition a function of the psyche that interacts directly with the elements of time and space. It does not take into account real time and is an assumption about what will happen in the future.
The psychiatrist also noted that people with developed intuition have common features. They prefer theories, probabilities, innovations and are constantly learning new things. They often neglect important details and facts, basing their judgments on intuition. Therefore, mistakes are often made. But at the same time, they do not have difficulties with making decisions.
4. Evolutionary theory
The human mind is designed to remember patterns. This helped people survive in the process of evolution.
The brain not only processes information as it comes in, but also stores ideas from all past experiences. And intuition, accordingly, also develops throughout life.
American neuroscientist Antonio Damasio believes that when a person subconsciously notices patterns, the body begins to produce neurochemicals in both the brain and the gut. It is these “somatic markers” that give an instant sense that something is going right or something is wrong. Other such markers include heart rate and muscle tone.
Not only are these processes faster than rational thinking, but intuition relies on decades of varied qualitative experience—sights, sounds, interactions. This is a human feature that cannot be realized with big data alone. Hence, intuition is a necessary skill that can help in decision making when time is short and traditional analytics are not available.
5. Theory of innovation
Science writer Steven Johnson said that innovation is the result of guesswork accumulated over time. Seen from this perspective, inventions that have changed the world, from X-rays to penicillin, are simply “happy accidents” that illustrate intuition in action.
And not only Stephen Johnson adheres to this theory. Post-it sticker co-author Arthur Fry also pointed to the power of intuition when designing innovations. He told Scientific American:
When I try to come up with something new, I step back from conscious thinking and transfer the problem to my unconscious mind.
He also believes that intuition is a key skill that allows great innovators to combine their experience, draw on observations from other industries and apply them in new conditions.
Thus, opinions about intuition vary. Some scientists and psychologists believe that it interferes with making rational decisions. And others are sure that it helps a person to survive and create something new.
Read related:9 Signs Your Superpower Is Your Intuition
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