“The Gut is Faster than the Mind”

Have you ever had that feeling in the pit of your stomach? That hunch that something is either right or wrong? That little voice in the back of your head telling you something is wrong but you can’t explain it, it’s just there? Have you ever met someone and you know you already don’t like him or her but you can’t explain why? If you ever get that feeling or voice don’t ignore it. That is your intuition speaking to you.

Intuition is referred to as our sixth sense; it’s that moment where you instinctively know whether something is right or if something is wrong. It gives us the ability to directly know something without having to analyze the situation (analytic reasoning), linking the conscious and unconscious parts of our mind along with our instinct and reason.

Your right brain is in charge of being intuitive and your left-brain is in charge of rational thought. According to researchers your intuitive right brain is observing your surroundings even when your conscious left-brain is focused on something else. Researchers also suggest that your body can process all of this information while your conscious mind is unaware of what is happening.

In a study conducted by Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, he wanted to test his theory that it is important to pay attention to “somatic markers” and that “the gut is faster than the mind” by conducting an experiment called the “Iowa Gambling Task.” In this experiment subjects were trying to win money and decide which deck of playing cards were the most profitable by choosing between four decks of cards. Within the 4 decks there were 2 risky decks and 2 non-risky decks that would produce profit. While conducting this experiment Damasio had his subjects hooked up to monitors so that he could observe his subjects skin for their response to stress.

The results of this experiment showed that it only took drawing 10 cards from the risky deck before his subjects to start show physical signs of anxiety. The crazy part is that it took the mind way longer to catch up to the reaction of the body. It took about 50 cards before the mind decided to change decks, and even then the mind couldn’t explain why they should switch decks. It took up to 80 cards before the subjects could explain why they switched decks. This experiment shows that intuition is faster than rational thought.

There are some people that are more rational thinkers, where they have to focus on the structure of something. Then there are intuitive thinkers, where they don’t have to focus on the details. They are more abstract. I find it really interesting that the mind is capable of giving you that gut feeling that something is either right or not. Its crazy how the unconscious mind can process so much information automatically without us even realizing. If you ever get that “gut feeling” that something isn’t right, you should trust your intuition, it is better to play it safe rather than sorry.