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Intuition (psychology)

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Intuition (psychology)

The center third of Education (1890), a stained glass window by Louis Comfort Tiffany and Tiffany Studios, located in Linsly-Chittenden Hall at Yale University.
It depicts Science (personified by Devotion, Labor, Truth, Research and Intuition) and Religion (personified by Purity, Faith, Hope, Reverence and Inspiration) in harmony, presided over by the central personification of "Light·Love·Life".

Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason.[1] The word intuition comes from Latin verb intueri which is usually translated as to look inside or to contemplate.[2] Intuition is thus often conceived as a kind of inner perception, sometimes regarded as real lucidity or understanding. Cases of intuition are of a great diversity; however, processes by which they happen typically remain mostly unknown to the thinker, as opposed to the view of rational thinking.

Intuition provides views, understandings, judgements, or beliefs that we cannot in every case empirically verify or rationally justify. For this reason, it has been not only a subject of study in psychology, but also a topic of interest in various religions and esoteric domains, as well as a common subject of writings.[3] The right brain is popularly associated with intuitive processes such as aesthetic or generally creative abilities.[4][5][6] Some scientists have contended that intuition is associated with innovation in scientific discovery.[7]

In Jungian psychology

In Carl Jung's theory of the ego, described in 1916 in Psychological Types, intuition was an "irrational function", opposed most directly by sensation, and opposed less strongly by the "rational functions" of thinking and feeling. Jung defined intuition as "perception via the unconscious": using sense-perception only as a starting point, to bring forth ideas, images, possibilities, ways out of a blocked situation, by a process that is mostly unconscious.

Jung said that a person in whom intuition was dominant, an "intuitive type", acted not on the basis of rational judgment but on sheer intensity of perception. An extraverted intuitive type, "the natural champion of all minorities with a future", orients to new and promising but unproven possibilities, often leaving to chase after a new possibility before old ventures have borne fruit, oblivious to his or her own welfare in the constant pursuit of change. An introverted intuitive type orients by images from the unconscious, ever exploring the psychic world of the archetypes, seeking to perceive the meaning of events, but often having no interest in playing a role in those events and not seeing any connection between the contents of the psychic world and him- or herself. Jung thought that extraverted intuitive types were likely entrepreneurs, speculators, cultural revolutionaries, often undone by a desire to escape every situation before it becomes settled and constraining—even repeatedly leaving lovers for the sake of new romantic possibilities. His introverted intuitive types were likely mystics, prophets, or cranks, struggling with a tension between protecting their visions from influence by others and making their ideas comprehensible and reasonably persuasive to others—a necessity for those visions to bear real fruit.[8]

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), first published in 1944, attempted to provide an empirical method of identifying a person's dominant ego function, loosely in terms of Carl Jung's theory. Beginning in the 1960s, scientists performed studies to see if MBTI results were consistent with the assumed theory that Jungian functions, in the form adopted and simplified by Kathryn Brigs and Isabel Briggs Myers, exist and conflict in such a way that one of them must be dominant and the others suppressed. Every study has found that instead of people's MBTI scores clustering around two opposite poles, such as intuition vs. sensation, with few people scoring in the middle, people's scores actually cluster around the middle of each scale in a bell curve. This suggests that the Myers-Briggs conception of Jungian polarities do not exist. Most contemporary psychological research rejects the existence of Jungian functions and the MBTI's ability to tell which function is dominant.[9][10][11][12]

In other psychological theories

In more-recent psychology, intuition can encompass the ability to know valid solutions to problems and decision making. For example, the recognition primed decision (RPD) model explains how people can make relatively fast decisions without having to compare options. Gary Klein found that under time pressure, high stakes, and changing parameters, experts used their base of experience to identify similar situations and intuitively choose feasible solutions. Thus, the RPD model is a blend of intuition and analysis. The intuition is the pattern-matching process that quickly suggests feasible courses of action. The analysis is the mental simulation, a conscious and deliberate review of the courses of action.[13]

According to the renowned neuropsychologist and neurobiologist Roger Wolcott Sperry though, intuition is a right-brain activity while factual and mathematical analysis is a left-brain activity.[14]

The reliability of one's intuition depends greatly on past knowledge and occurrences in a specific area. For example, someone who has had more experiences with children will tend to have a better instinct or intuition about what they should do in certain situations with them. This is not to say that one with a great amount of experience is always going to have an accurate intuition (because some can be biased); however, the chances of it being more reliable are definitely amplified.[15]

Intuition and spirituality

Intuition is commonly discussed in writings of spiritual thought. Contextually, there is often an idea of a transcendent and more qualitative mind of one's spirit towards which a person strives, or towards which consciousness evolves. Typically, intuition is regarded as a conscious commonality between earthly knowledge and the higher spiritual knowledge[16] and appears as flashes of illumination.[17] It is asserted that by definition intuition cannot be judged by logical reasoning.[18][19]

Thomas Merton discussed variations of intuition in a series of essays. In describing aesthetic intuition he asserted that the artist has a subjective identification with an object that is both heightened and intensified and thereby "sees" the object's spiritual reality.[20] In discussing Zen meditation he asserted that a direct intuition is derived through a "struggle against conceptual knowledge." An end result is "the existent knows existence, or 'isness,' while completely losing sight of itself as a 'knowing subject.'"[21]

Rudolf Steiner postulated that intuition is the third of three stages of higher knowledge, coming after imagination and inspiration, and is characterized by a state of immediate and complete experience of, or even union with, the object of knowledge without loss of the subject's individual ego.[22]

The high value of intuition in the Sufi schemata is related by El Sayeed Idries Shah el-Hashimi el-Naqshbandi, Grand Sheikh of the Dervish Orders.[23]

Empathic accuracy

Empathic accuracy is a term in psychology that refers to how accurately one person (usually designated the perceiver) can infer the thoughts and feelings of another person (usually designated the target). It was first introduced in conjunction with a new research method by psychologists William Ickes and William Tooke in 1988.[24] It is similar to the term accurate empathy, which psychologist Carl Rogers had previously introduced in 1957.[25] Empathic accuracy is an important aspect of what William Ickes has called "everyday mind reading."[26]

Contrary to popular understanding women do not seem to possess empathic abilities that men do not have. In fact, it is claimed that anyone has the potential to develop intuition as a skill set, if desired.[27] However research by William Ickes has shown that women are susceptible to stereotypes, and try harder in situations where they would expect to do better. In situations where they are unaware that this is expected, no improved performance is found.

Studies and claims

Dismissing the notion that intuitive impulses arise supernaturally, one is left to assume they originate with the many innate human senses. Remnants of perception, such as a movement occurring out of the "corner of your eye" or subtle sound that would normally be ignored as background noise, could occur simultaneously. While these events could be filtered as irrelevant by the mind, their coincidental synchronicity could lead to sudden assumptions about one's surroundings, such as the feeling of being watched or followed.

Intuitive abilities were quantitatively tested at Yale University in the 1970s. While studying nonverbal communication, researchers noted that some subjects were able to read nonverbal facial cues before reinforcement occurred.[28] In employing a similar design, they noted that highly intuitive subjects made decisions quickly but could not identify their rationale. Their level of accuracy, however, did not differ from that of nonintuitive subjects.[29]

Law enforcement officers often claim to observe suspects and immediately "know" that they possess a weapon or illicit narcotic substances. Often unable to articulate why they reacted or what prompted them at the time of the event, they sometimes retrospectively can plot their actions based upon what had been clear and present danger signals. Such examples liken intuition to "gut feelings" and when viable illustrate preconscious activity.[30]

Intuition, as gut feeling based on experience, has been found to be useful for business leaders for making judgements about people, culture and strategy.[31]


Intuition Peak on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named in appreciation of the role of scientific intuition for the advancement of human knowledge.[32]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary
  2. ^ Carlin Flora. "Gut Almighty". Psychology Today. Vol 40. Issue 3:68-75,2007.
  3. ^ Peter Steinfels Beliefs The New York Times, July 13, 1996.
  4. ^ Converting Words into Pictures--Reading Comprehension Guide--Academic Support.
  5. ^ "Left/Right Processing". Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  6. ^ "Right-Brain Hemisphere". Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  7. ^ Gerald Holton, Yehuda Elkana. Albert Einstein: Historical and Cultural Perspectives, Dover Publications, July 1997, p. 97. ISBN 0-486-29879-5 "The workings of intuition transcend those of the intellect, and as is well known, innovation is often a triumph of intuition over logic."
  8. ^ C.G. Jung. Psychological Types. Bollingen Series XX, Volume 6, Princeton University Press, 1971.
  9. ^ Barbara Engler, Personality Theories: An Introduction, 8th ed., Cengage Learning (2008), p. 86. "Scientifically oriented psychologists…, in spite of the widespread use of the MBTI, tend to largely ignore Jungian concepts."
  10. ^ Robert R. McCrae and Paul T. Costa, Jr. "Reinterpreting the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator from the Perspective of the Five-Factor Model of Personality", Journal of Personality, 1989 Mar;57(1):17-40.
  11. ^ David J. Pittenger, "The Utility of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator." Review of Educational Research, Vol. 63, No. 4 (Winter, 1993), pp. 467–488.
  12. ^ Tammy L. Bess and Robert J. Harvey. "Bimodal Score Distributions and the MBTI: Fact or Artifact?" Journal of Personality Assessment, Feb. 2002, Vol. 78 Issue 1, pp. 176–186. "Unfortunately, at least with respect to the traditional preference-score method of scoring the MBTI, research has consistently shown that the bimodal score distributions implied by the 'type' view of personality are not typically present in large, unselected populations of examinees."
  13. ^ Klein, Gary. Intuition At Work. Random House, NY, NY. January, 2003.
  14. ^ "Allen Chuck Ross, "Brain Hemispheric Functions and the Native American," ''Journal of American Indian Education'', August 1989". 1982-04-09. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  15. ^ Eugene Sadler-Smith. Inside Intuition. 2008.
  16. ^ Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo Publication Department, 1970, p.65. ISBN 81-7058-187-7.
  17. ^ Alice A. Bailey, The Light of the Soul, Lucis Publishing Company, 1927, p. 317. ISBN B000XPMTB0.
  18. ^ Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo Publication Department, 1970, p. 69. ISBN 81-7058-187-7.
  19. ^ William Hermanns, Albert Einstein, Einstein and the poet: in search of the cosmic man, Brandon Books, 1983, p. 173. Albert Einstein: "(empirical) Knowledge is necessary, too. An intuitive child couldn't accomplish anything without some knowledge. There will come a point in everyone's life, however, where only intuition can make the leap ahead, without ever knowing precisely how. One can never know why, but one must accept intuition as fact." p. 173. Also "For it is intuition that improves the world, not just following the trodden path of thought. Intuition makes us look at unrelated facts and then think about them until they can all be brought together under one law. To look for related facts means holding onto what one has instead of searching for new facts. Intuition is the father of new knowledge, while empiricism is nothing but an accumulation of old knowledge. Intuition, not intellect, is the 'open sesame' of yourself." p. 16.
  20. ^ Thomas Merton The Literary Essays of Thomas Merton, New Directions Publishing, March 1985, pp. 341, 348. ISBN 0-8112-0931-8.
  21. ^ Thomas Merton, The Literary Essays of Thomas Merton, New Directions Publishing, March 1985, p. 364. ISBN 0-8112-0931-8.
  22. ^ Lorenzo Ravagli, Zanders Erzählungen, Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, ISBN 978383051613, pp. 680ff.
  23. ^ Idries Shah, Thinkers of the East, pp. 191 et seq, ISBN 0-224-61912-8 c/r 1971.
  24. ^ Ickes, W., & Tooke, W. (1988). The observational method: Studying the interactions of minds and bodies. In S. Duck, D.F. Hay, S.E. Hobfoll, W. Ickes, & B. Montgomery (Eds.), Handbook of personal relationships: Theory, research, and interventions (pp. 79-97). Chichester: Wiley.
  25. ^ Rogers, C. R. (1957). The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 21, 95–103.
  26. ^ Ickes, W. (2003). Everyday mind reading: Understanding what other people think and feel. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.
  27. ^ Chauran, Alexandra (2012). So You Want to Be a Psychic Intuitive. Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN . 
  28. ^ AJ Giannini, J Daood,MC Giannini, R Boniface, PG Rhodes. Intellect versus intuition--dichotomy in the reception of nonverbal communication.Journal of General Psychology. 99:19-24,1978.
  29. ^ AJ Giannini, ME Barringer, MC Giannini, RH Loiselle. Lack of relationship between handedness and intuitive and intellectual (rationalistic) modes of information processing. Journal of General Psychology. 111:31-37 1984.
  30. ^ Anthony J. Pinizzotto, PhD, Edward F. Davis, MA, and Charles E. Miller III Emotional/rational decision making in law enforcement (Federal Bureau of Investigation), Free Online Library, 2004.
  31. ^
  32. ^ Intuition Peak. SCAR Composite Gazetteer of Antarctica.

Further reading

  • Chauran, Alexandra (2012). So You Want To Be a Psychic Intuitive. Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN . 
  • Chopra, Deepak, and Judith Orloff. The Power of Intuition. Hay House, 2005. (Audio) ISBN 978-1-4019-0622-1
  • Davis, Elizabeth. Women's Intuition. Celestial Arts, 1989. ISBN 978-0-89087-572-8
  • Fradet, Pierre-Alexandre, Derrida-Bergson. Sur l'immédiateté, Hermann, Paris, coll. "Hermann Philosophie", 2014. ISBN 9782705688318
  • Mayer, Elizabeth Lloyd. Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism, and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind. Bantam, 2008. ISBN 978-0-553-38223-5
  • McTaggart, Lynn. The Intention Experiment. Free Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-7432-7696-2
  • Schulz, Mona Lisa, and Christriane Northrup. Awakening Intuition. Three Rivers Press, 1999. ISBN 978-0-609-80424-7
  • Wilde, Stuart Intuition. Hay House, 1996. (Audio) ISBN 978-1-4019-0674-0
  • Wilde, Stuart. The Sixth Sense: Including the Secrets of the Etheric Subtle Body. Hay House, 2000. ISBN 978-1-56170-501-6
  • Levin, Michal. Spiritual Intelligence: Awakening the Power of Your Spirituality and Intuition. Hodder & Stoughton, 2000. ISBN 978-0-340-73394-3
  • Doc Childre and Howard Martin. The HEARTMATH Solution. HarperSanFrancisco, 1999. ISBN 978-0-06-251606-0
  • Hoeflich, Christine. What Everyone Believed: A Memoir of Intuition and Awakening. Between Worlds Publishing, 2008. ISBN 978-0-9796589-0-7
  • Ezechiel Saad Hasard et Intuition, French, preface by zen master Jacques Brosse. Ed. Dervy, París, 1991. ISBN 2-85076-438-8

External links

  • Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman on Intuition
  • A scientific research group on intuition
  • Ask Philosophers: Question on Intuition and Rationality
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