Intuition is the apparent ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason. Intuition provides us with beliefs that we cannot necessarily justify. For this reason, it has been the subject of study in psychology, as well as a topic of interest in the supernatural. It is the immediate apprehension of an object by the mind without the intervention of any reasoning process. Intuition is controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain.
Intuitive abilities were quantitatively tested at Yale University in the 1970’s. While studying nonverbal communication, researchers noted that some subjects were able to read nonverbal facial cues before reinforcement occurred. 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.
Intuition is one of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung’s four psychological types or ego functions. In this early model of the psyche, intuition was opposed by sensation on one axis, while feeling was opposed by thinking on another axis. Jung argued that one of these four functions was the most prominent or developed in the consciousness. The opposing function would typically be underdeveloped in that individual.
It can encompass the ability to know valid solutions to problems and decision making. Gary Klein outlined the “recognition primed decision model” to explain how people can make relatively fast decisions without having to compare options. 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 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.
The reliability of one’s intuition depends greatly on past knowledge and occurrences in a specific area. Someone who has more experiences with children will tend to have a better instinct or intuition about what they should do in certain situations. This is not to say that one with a great amount of experience is always going to have an accurate intuition, however, the chances of it being more reliable are definitely amplified.
Law enforcement officers often claim to observe suspects and immediately know that they possess a weapon or illicit narcotic substances. On such occasions, these officers are unable to articulate their accurate reactions that may represent building blocks to reasonable suspicion or probable cause indicators. 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.
According to intuitive Abella Arthur, “Intuition is a combination of empirical data, deep and heightened observation, and an ability to cut through the thickness of surface reality. Intuition is like a slow motion machine that captures data instantaneously and hits you like a ton of bricks. Intuition is a knowing, a sensing that is beyond the conscious understanding, a gut feeling. Intuition is not pseudo-science.”