I’m very instinctive, have avoided many problems when I’ve followed my gut; and gotten into unnecessary ones when I’ve ignored it. Sound familiar? All of us make intuitive-based decisions, and most of the time our intuition is wrong. Why? In short because life is messy, there’s no way around it, and previous success makes us overconfident in our abilities.
On the last point, we develop a false sense of confidence when we make intuitive-based decisions that end up being right; but we never ask ourselves why we were right.
Knowing so can help us avoid making bad decisions.
When should you trust your intuition?
Daniel Kahneman, co-author of Thinking, Fast and Slow says your intuition is wrong, unless these 3 conditions are met:
- Predictable. This is something that is routine. Kahneman uses the example of how married couples, who have been together for a long time, can tell how one feels from one word on a phone call.
- Practice. We’re all pattern thinkers, and the more patterns we see the better we become at recognizing things; that’s how we develop intuition. Put simply: the more time your spend doing something, the better you’ll get at anticipating things.
- Feedback. You have to know whether you’re right or wrong. This is where you have to apply the scientific method, and just try stuff fast to see what happens.
How do we make better decisions?
Decision making is a skill we can all develop. And like every skill, we have to be thoughtful in how we get better at it. There’s no single recipe that will tell you how to make decisions. So, the best way is to understand and accept why we make bad ones.
For example, randomness is what throws our intuition into flux because we are creatures of habit. In unknown situations it’s hard for us to step back and think when we’re un autopilot most of the time, which is why we shouldn’t trust our intuition in these situations.
With regards to making better decisions in general, I recommend you take a step back and broaden your options, test assumptions, take some time before deciding and prepare to be wrong.
For more on the topic of intuitive-based decision-making, check out ASAP Science’s video: Should you trust your intuition?