For Steve Jobs, intuition was more powerful than intellect and Einstein has been attributed to saying, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
We have devised the first scientific technique to measure intuition. Using this method we found evidence that people can use intuition to make faster, more accurate and more confident decisions. We can use unconscious emotional information as evidence to make a choice, and combine this unconscious information with fully conscious decisions. This groundbreaking discovery is the first to show scientific evidence that intuition actually exists and a new method to objectively measure it.
We showed that unconscious emotional information can be utilised to make better choices.
“It’s like when you order seafood at a restaurant and when the waiter puts it down, something makes you second guess your choice. It might be the smell, how it looks, the décor of the restaurant – all this is processed by your brain and helps you decide if you are going to eat the meal or not.” Says lab director Joel Pearson.
We exposed participants to subliminal emotional images (e.g. happy ones like a puppy or negative ones like as a shark attack) in one eye while flashing lights in the other eye that wiped the image from consciousness. “It’s a bit like the Leonardo DiCaprio movie Inception where he infiltrates the subconscious,” says Pearson. “The emotional images were entirely subconscious – we slipped them in without people knowing.” While participants were exposed to the subconscious emotional images they also had to make normal conscious decisions.
Lots of people feel like they have a sixth sense about things – think of soldiers getting a particular feeling about a crowd or a road in Afghanistan. The military are interested in developing soldiers’ sense of intuition and how they can use it. Our data show that people get better at intuiting things the more they do it.
To find out more, see the press on our discovery:
The Huffington Post: This Experiment Suggests Intuition Is A Real Thing
The Sydney Morning Herald: UNSW researchers find human intuition does exist
Lufityanto, Galang, Chris Donkin, and Joel Pearson. "Measuring intuition: nonconscious emotional information boosts decision accuracy and confidence." Psychological science 27.5 (2016): 622-634.