The Science of Intuition

I’d like to start this post by asking you, my readers, some questions. Think about how you currently make your decisions.

• Do you list the pros and cons?

• Do you ask advice from other people?

• Do you endlessly search for and gather information?

There’s certainly merit in all these rational approaches, but for important decisions like moving house, changing job, even getting married, research shows that your intuition is your best resource. In a study from the Netherlands, scientists found that our unconscious thought processes, called ‘deliberation without attention’, produce better results than logic. The Dutch observers also noted that using intuition wasn’t the same as guessing. It was informed and based on experiences and information storied in our long-term memories – the information we aren’t consciously aware of but which we have stored away and which can reveal itself through a flash of intuition. 

Currently, intuition research is booming and intuition is regarded as a very real ability by scientists and psychologists. In 2014 the US Navy allocated an astonishing four million dollars for research into the workings of intuition as a potential life-saver for members of the armed forces and whether or not there are ways to improve it with training. Indeed, an increasing number of other respected studies explore how we can process and make sense of information unconsciously. For example, a Columbia University Medical Centre study found that when images expressing fear were flashed too quickly for subjects to consciously see them, their brains still displayed anxiety, suggesting that our brains have an intuitive sense of what is unseen. Other research confirms that when conscious minds are distracted and intuition is given free reign, test subjects achieve better results than when they pay full attention or rely on logic. This was shown most conclusively with studies12 on women who were asked to eat intuitively (rely on their internal satiety meter when making food choices): they lost weight more successfully than those who went on a diet. These findings suggest we may intuitively know our own bodies far better than we realize. 

Other revolutionary research, led by Dr Julia Mossbridge and Dr Dean Radin, takes this even further and suggests our bodies may intuitively know things before they happen, sending us signs like increased heart rate to warn or guide us. This is called presentiment or predictive anticipatory activity. 

Furthermore, intuition isn’t just about helping you make better life decisions for yourself, it can also help you understand others better. It is often said that we are the average of the five people we are closest to in our lives, so it’s vitally important we spend our time with people who are right for us. Learning to harness your intuition can help you read people better so you can ensure the significant people in your life are ones that inspire and support you and make you happy, not people who drag you down.

Finally, studies done at the Max Planck Institute, among others, have confirmed that intuitive decisions are reached faster and are subjectively ‘better’ than those landed on by purely rational means. In other words, those who rely on their intuition are capable of making better, faster and more beneficial decisions. 

The science of intuition is most definitely out there.

To find out more about intuition, read my book 21 Rituals to Ignite your Intuition.

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