Think you have good intuition? New study says you probably don’t

WASHINGTON — If there’s one thing intuition can’t tell you, it’s just how intuitive you actually are.

A new study from the University of Kent School of Psychology found that people who thought they were highly intuitive did not show any more intuition than people who considered themselves less intuitive.

“Nine out of 10 times, someone who said they have high confidence in his or her intuition did not perform any better than someone with low confidence in his or her intuition,” the study’s co-author Dr. Mario Weick said.

For the study, 400 people from the United States and United Kingdom were asked to assess their own levels of intuition and given tasks to measure how much confidence they had in their intuition.

Participants were then tested using word and picture association. The associations followed certain patterns and were designed to encourage learning the rules without participants noticing what was happening, according to the study.

Results from the tasks showed that those who described themselves as intuitive performed equally well as people who described themselves as less intuitive, Weick said.

The more individuals perceive themselves to be intuitive — as opposed to rational — the more they tend to believe that their intuitions lead to good decision outcomes, research shows.

However, the study concluded that while confidence in your own intuition may have some bearing on how your gut instincts kick in, “the predictive validity is likely low and may lead to frequent misjudgements.”

Weick said he hopes to see more research done in fields where people base decisions on intuition, such as professions in the financial services sector.

“It’s quite important to know how much we can rely on our introspection — do we need to be perhaps a bit more cautious when we feel we have a strong intuition to something that provides an indicator, an index, of the quality of a decision?”

Read the full study in the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal.

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