Should You Trust Your Intuition?

This article, “Should You Trust Your Intuition?” by Stephen Sidroff both discusses and analyzes the potential effects of trusting your intuition, also known as your “gut” feeling. The article defines intuition as a “direct perception of truth, fact, independent of any reasoning process.” Sidroff claims that people use intuition to take one of two stances during decision making. One instance is when it [intuition]  is used to reassure that the correct choice is being made. Another instance is when it is used as a signal of caution from their gut, to not make a certain choice. This article provides some possible “caveats” to relying on intuition as well as the significance of neuroception in this research.

The cognitive aspect of this article comes from occurrence of neuroception. The article defines it as the “continuous subconscious assessment by the autonomic nervous system of the safety or danger of any given moment.” This means that whether our perceptions of danger or threat are accurate, our intuition can tell us to respond with caution “where there isn’t a real danger”. One instance of this perhaps “false intuition” that I have come across while working with small children is vaguely mentioned in the article as well (Sidroff). Children are drawn to what is familiar to them; they cling to that which is consistent in their lives such as certain family members, favorite toys or snacks, etc. Likewise, they are also “uncomfortable” with trying/experiencing new things and consciously try to avoid and get away from those things, such as daycare for the first time, new foods, and unfamiliar people.

I agree with the claims and cautions that the article is giving. If you primarily rely on the occurrence of intuitional danger signals, one might always prevent themselves from trying new things and advancing themselves, or as the article puts it “new learning and development”. As we have discussed in class, correlation does not equal causation. It is possible, that in hindsight the few accurate warnings from your gut in comparison to the unsuccessful occurrences simply seem as though they occur more often. If one tends to ignore or avoid situations that are awkward in nature Some situations may be negatively affected or cause fixation of some sort if not addressed thoroughly. For example, one might choose to stay in a toxic relationship due to them trusting their gut and ignoring the obvious signs of discord. Instead, one might recognize such signals and address them for what they are.

Some limitations of this article are the lack of sources used in order to get a wide range of perspectives on whether or not intuition should be used as a primary factor in decision making. Another limitation is the framing of the research used to come to the conclusion of intuition not being trustworthy or consistent enough. The research’s framing seemed to be using correlation to decide causation. They relied on the concept of neuroception solely. Some suggestions may be that they add a few more sources to compare and contrast and that they magnify more aspects of their cognitive research, in addition to neuroception.  

6 thoughts on “Should You Trust Your Intuition? It can be powerful but not always accurate.

  1. ewhitese

    I will be the first to admit that I usually use my “gut” instinct as a reason not to make choices. However, from time to time I’ll take a risk and go for it, except that usually is when the stakes are low. I would be interested to see with further research if they find any true downfall to trusting your “gut” in decision making.

  2. swoodsid

    I have to say that I generally use and trust my gut instinct. I rely on it a lot. I also find it to usually be right. Although, as far as missing out on new things because of the danger feeling, I have been skydiving 🙂 Now, watching the ground get higher and higher from the plane definitely gave me that gut fear feeling, but I also calmed myself down by telling myself that I was with a professional and we had two parachutes. Interesting post!

  3. ldanby

    Being a person with anxiety, life can get extra complicated when intuition comes into play so to speak. It can be difficult to try to decide if I’m getting a “gut feeling” about a situation or if its unnecessary/random anxiety that is what I’m feeling. In the past I’ve even found myself having to talk myself out of bad gut feelings, because I know that I actually have no reason to not do something or avoid a situation that I could’ve benefited from. It would be interesting if to find more research between intuition and anxiety.

  4. Daniel

    So this is one of the very, very few times I would ever say that I “disagree” with scientific understanding. Professor Rettinger actually said something earlier in the semester that gives clarity to why I will say this. To paraphrase “When people come into the lab, you lose a level of real world attributes” or something akin to this.

    With my background (I worked in law enforcement, Corrections specifically) not listening to your “Gut” can actually get you hurt (or worse). Though that is a drastic example, when looking at real-world scenarios, if your intuition and your gut say “hey don’t do this…” you probably shouldn’t do it.

    I actually think that their are plenty of ways you can relate your gut instinct to a reasoning process; our biological reactions have an effect (and vice versa!) and the environment you are in will have an effect on your cognitive processes. Something you cannot measure in a laboratory. It is incredibly hard to measure certain aspects of human behavior, and “Gut instinct” (which can most definitely also be wrong, to be fair!) is one such thing.

  5. gross2

    I think “gut instincts” are important to have because enables us to sense danger or a threat. It also enables when reasoning to think of consequences of doing something it almost gives us a mental warning which I think is great. If we didn’t have “intuition” I think it could lend us to a lot of problems.

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