Doing the right thing, after we exhaust the alternatives



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July 27, 2006

I think you found the right place

Antoine Bechara, PhD associate professor at the University of Iowa says intuition is a survival mechanism. Oliver Turnbull, PhD professor of psychology at the University of Wales says you shouldn't have to force yourself to listen to your intuition because "...its already there".

John Allman, PhD researcher at the California Institute of Technology says that intuition is matching patterns based on previous experience. The process takes a fraction of a second and involves "Von Economo" neurons in the prefrontal cortex. Researchers know these cells stop forming around the age of 4. People with lesions in the prefrontal cortex have diminished abilities to read social situations; lack of development or damage in this area creates trusting victims for scam artists. Which somehow reminds me of Labrador Retrievers.

That said, here are the five lies told by your intuition:

- "The first guess is the best guess." Researchers at the University of Illinois checked the eraser marks on 1500 tests. 51% went from the wrong answer to the correct one. 25% went from right to wrong. 24% went from wrong to wrong.
- "I'm worried about ____. Something must be wrong" Don't confuse fear or anxiety with intuition.
- "Something bad is about to happen, I can feel it." Intuition is true assessment, usually devoid of emotion. Something bad happens all the time. Something good happens all the time.
- "Whatta great business deal!" Better sleep on it.
- "My intuition is better than the statistics." Probably not.


So, what do the experts say about developing intuition?

- Play with your intuition. That's play, not obsess and fret.
- Laugh when you get it wrong. Humor is also a prefrontal cortex function.
- Take note of successes.
- Meditate.
- Compare intuitive observations with a colleague.





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