The old TV show “Star Trek” has and episode where Spock is telling Kirk of a human flaw called intuition. Spock was all about analysis and logic, while Kirk often relied upon intuition to solve problems. Intuition is a complex human sense that isn’t entirely understood or even believed to be real by some. Some call it mothers intuition or women’s intuition. But I believe everyone has it even though some don’t know how to properly cultivate it for their benefit.
A Rice University research team wanted to know if intuition was more effective than analysis. The team also set out to discover if the intuitive approach was better if a person had related knowledge of the matters surrounding their choice.
For the first study, subjects viewed videos of 13 basketball shots, then rated them in difficulty based on a numerical scale. There were two groups of subjects. One group (analytical) was allowed time—prior to the actual viewing—to ponder any details to be considered, such as the athlete’s particular stance.
The other group was the intuitive group who did not have this time to reflect. Both groups had 10 seconds to give their rating. Their assessments were then compared to those of a basketball coach and his assistants.
Whether or not the analytical-group subjects had any basketball knowledge was irrelevant to how well they rated the shots. However, experience with basketball was indeed a relevant factor for the intuitive group. In summary, the most accurate ratings came from subjects with basketball skills in the intuition group.
The second study had subjects viewing 10 designer handbags and determining which were authentic and which were phony. The intuition group had five seconds to give their answer. The analytical group was allowed to look at details and then had half a minute to assess the handbags. The highest scores came from owners of at least three designer handbags—in the intuition group.
So what does any of this really prove?
Let’s apply this to a somewhat risky situation. An adult is learning to ski for the first time. Too much analysis hampers their efforts: “I’ve never done this before,” “I’m way off-balance,” “I might fall,” “If I fall I’ll injure my knee,” etc. As a result, it takes a good while for the analytical adult to actually be skiing.
However, put skis on a three-year-old for the first time, and what happens? It’s not long before the preschooler is zipping past the adult, even though from a neuromuscular standpoint, the adult is far superior to the preschooler. What’s going on? The preschooler’s brain isn’t developed enough to analyze. They have no fear.
Let’s take this a step further: self-defense. Hannah is approached by a much bigger man intent on assaulting her. Immediately she’s thinking, “I can’t fight him off; he’s a foot taller; he might have a knife; he’ll strangle me with his big hands; his eyes look glazed—he’s crazed on drugs…” She gets assaulted.
This same man approaches Kaytie, who’s the same size as Hannah. Kaytie has no self-defense training, facing the same situation by this disgusting being, it doesn’t register to Kaytie that he’s bigger or that he might have a knife.
She’s not logical. She doesn’t analyze. She’s pure raw emotion—and intuitively knows her desire to protect herself is far greater than his desire to violate her. She goes wild on him, resists and she flees.
This same principle can be applied to situations like getting into an elevator with a strange man. A woman should trust her intuition or gut feeling, rather than analyze: “I’ll seem rude if I tell him I’ll wait for the next elevator,” “I must be imagining he’s dangerous; after all, he’s well-dressed.”
Too much cerebral cortex can put women (and men) in danger. An animal in the wild relies upon gut instinct. We can learn from wild animals.