Gut feelings – bias or intuition?

Most gut feelings are merely superstitions. But in the mind of an expert, a gut feeling can be a highly efficient, largely unconscious product of careful deduction.

This is known as expert intuition.

Imagine how many enthusiastic young protégées have followed around their mentors, watched them make a key decision, and asked, “How did you reach that conclusion?” only to be told, ” I just knew.”

Most of us plan, analyze, and solve problems using the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain just behind our forehead. Decisions made here are relatively slow, limited, and conscious.

Expert intuition goes deeper into the brain, where years of accumulated knowledge are stored. When a decision is called for, the key data points are wired together without our awareness; that is, until the conclusion suddenly bursts into our consciousness, delivering the answer.

The more you know about a subject or process, the more you rely on expert intuition. But until you do, it is risky to go with hunches and important to consciously weigh all your options.

Ironically, weighing all the options can be counterproductive to people with expert intuition, forcing them to overthink a question that they can arrive at more quickly and effectively without the time-consuming, energy-draining burden of conscious thought.

In fact, the best way to get the best answer from someone who uses expert intuition is to give them limited time and limited information. This will force their deliberations to leave the realm of consciousness and into their unconscious, where the answer will be made faster and in most cases, better.