Demystifying Intuition: What It Is, What It Does, and How It Does It

Psychological Inquiry (Impact Factor: 6.65). 10/2010; 21:295-312. DOI: 10.1080/1047840X.2010.523875

ABSTRACT Definitions of intuition are discussed and two working definitions are proposed. This is followed by a list of eight unresolved problems concerning intuition. It is suggested that all of these problems can be resolved by cognitive-experiential self-theory (CEST), a dual-process theory of personality according to which people process information with two systems, an experiential/intuitive system that is an associative learning system that humans share with other animals and a uniquely human verbal reasoning system. Intuition is considered to be a subsystem of the experiential/ intuitive system that operates by exactly the same principles and attributes but has narrower boundary conditions. The next section includes a presentation of the most relevant aspects of CEST with an emphasis on the operating rules and attributes of the experiential/intuitive system. This is followed by demonstrating how the operation of the experiential/intuitive system can resolve each of the unresolved problems concerning intuition. The article closes with a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of the experiential/intuitive and rational/analytic systems. It is concluded that neither system is generally superior to the other, as each has important advantages and disadvantages.

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