Reference: Epstein, S. (2010). Demystifying Intuition: What it is, what it does,
and how it does it. Psychological Inquiry, 21, 295-312.
Demystifying Intuition: What it is, What it Does,
and How it Does it
Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Keywords: Intuition, feelings, experiential system, rational system, automatic learning, intuitive
Running head: Demystifying intuition
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Seymour Epstein, Department of
Psychology, University of Massachuseets, Amherst, MA 01003-7710, Phone: (413) 253-2092,
Fax: (413) 545-0996
Demystifying intuition 2
Demystifying Intuition: What it is, What it Does,
and How it Does it
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 content 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.
Demystifying intuition 3
In order to understand a phenomenon such as intuition, it is helpful to begin with a
definition of precisely what one wishes to understand. This article therefore begins with a
discussion of definitions of intuition.
What is Intuition? How Should it be Defined?
There are few phenomena in the history of psychology that have so many different
definitions as intuition. In a survey by Abernathy and Hamm (1995), they identified 20 different
definitions of intuition, and their list is hardly exhaustive. Although many psychologists agree
that there is something important captured by the construct of intuition, there are others who
doubt that intuition is a useful construct, and yet others who regard it as nothing more than a
“lazy” or degraded form of analytic reasoning. Authorities on intuition not only disagree with
each other, sometimes they even disagree with themselves. The Nobel laureate, Herbert Simon,
proposed one of the more influential views on intuition that he referred to as “bounded
rationality” (Simon, 1979, p. 501). Bounded rationality is a reduced form of deliberative
reasoning that is sufficient for practical purposes. Consistent with this view, Simon also defined
intuition as “nothing more and nothing less than recognition” (Simon, 1992, p. 155).
Accordingly he believes there is nothing special about intuitive thinking that makes it
qualitatively different from analytical reasoning. Yet, in marked contrast to this view, Simon
reports that he can judge people’s intelligence by the expression in their eyes and that he uses
this insight to make recommendations for professional positions. He reports, “I began thinking of
the clear, dark, Armenian eyes of Arrow, the cool, clear, Frisian eyes of Koopmans, and the
sharp, black Roman eyes of Modigliani. It was certainly true that they all had remarkable eyes.
Ever since, I think I have included that among my own selection criteria; intelligence shines
through the eyes” (cited in Hammond, 1996, p. 85). This behavior implies that he implicitly
believes in a form of intuition that is based on associations with past experience, and that is
Demystifying intuition 4
concretive and imagistic and therefore qualitatively different from analytical reasoning rather
than just a reduced form of it.
It is noteworthy that most authorities define intuition primarily in terms of what it is not
rather than in terms of what it is. They agree that it is a form of information processing that is
different from analytical reasoning, but beyond that they have little or nothing to add. As an
example, the definition of intuition in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (Merriam,
& Merriam, 1966) is “coming to direct knowledge or certainty without reasoning or inferring.”
In a similar vein, Myers (2002), in agreement with the dictionary definition, defines intuition as
“our capacity for direct knowledge, for immediate insight without observation or reason” (p. 1).
Bruner (1961) defines it as “the intellectual technique of arriving at plausible but tentative
conclusions without going through the analytic steps by which such formulations would be found
to be valid or invalid conclusions” (p. 13).Hammond (1996) defines intuition as a “cognitive
process that somehow produces an answer, solution, or idea without the use of a conscious,
logically defensible step-by-step process” (p. 60). According to Hogarth (2001) “the essence of
intuition or intuitive responses is that they are reached with little apparent effort, and typically
without conscious awareness. They involve little or no conscious deliberation” (original italics,
p. 14). Apparently, the above authorities agree that intuition is some kind of information
acquired without conscious, deliberative reasoning, but they do not identify what it actually is in
any substantive way. Thus, the challenge remains to better define intuition or to indicate how it
In an attempt somewhat to remedy the situation, I propose the following definitions of
intuition: “Intuition involves a sense of knowing without knowing how one knows.” “Intuition
involves a sense of knowing based on unconscious information processing.” The first definition
is how laypeople tend to view how they experience intuition. It can therefore be considered a
Demystifying intuition 5
phenomenological definition of intuition. Like the definitions previously reviewed it is limited
by defining intuition in part by what it is not, as it involves not knowing how one knows. The
second definition avoids this problem by noting that the source of intuition is unconscious
processing. However, although less limited, this definition is still limited because it tells us
nothing about the nature of the unconscious processing.
Where then does this leave us? It leaves us with the view that intuition is a fuzzy
construct and although some of its definition are of some use descriptively, they are of very
limited value scientifically as they indicate nothing about its the operation other than the one
definition that states that is operates unconsciously, which several other definitions also imply.
However, for advancing our understanding of intuition, we need to go beyond a general
recognition that intuition involves unconscious processing. We need to know what purpose, if
any, intuition serves and what its operating principles and processing attributes are. I believe that
cognitive-experiential self-theory (CEST) can provide such information. An interesting test of its
ability to do so is whether it can resolve the eight unresolved problems concerning intuition that
are presented next.
Eight Unresolved Problems Regarding Intuition
Problem 1: Establishing the Boundary Conditions of Intuition
As part of explaining a phenomenon, it is necessary to indicate what falls within its
boundaries and what lies outside of them. To accomplish this, the various definitions of intuition
that were based solely on the exclusion of analytical reasoning would have to include all non-
analytic information-processing within its boundaries and all analytic information-processing
outside of its boundaries. Thus, they would have to include irrational fears, superstitions,
fundamentalist religious beliefs, esoteric beliefs such as extrasensory perception, learned psych-
motor coordination as in sport activities. Some authors do in fact extend intuition in this manner
Demystifying intuition 6
(e.g., Hogarth, 2001; Myers, 2002), but it obviously is stretching the meaning of intuition well
beyond its normal usage. This, of course, is not a scientifically acceptable reason for rejecting a
definition, but it nevertheless raises the question of where reasonably to set the boundary
conditions for intuition. Thus, an issue that requires resolution is the determination of the
boundary conditions of intuition.
Problem 2: Should Intuition be Restricted to Valid Beliefs?
Some authors require intuitive beliefs to be valid whereas others do not. According to
some of the definitions in Webster’s Third New International dictionary (Merriam & Merriam,
1966), intuition is “direct insight into reality,” and “quick and ready insight,” which implies that
intuitive beliefs are valid, as invalid beliefs can hardly be regarded as insightful. Vaughan (1979)
explicitly defines intuition as necessarily valid. If a belief is not valid according to Vaughan, it
should not be regarded as intuitive. In contrast, Bruner (1961) believes intuitive knowledge is
Can the belief that intuitive beliefs must be true be dismissed as unreasonable? Not if it is
a definition of intuition, for definitions can neither be true or false; they simply indicate the
meaning a person assigns to a term for the purpose of communicating with precision. Therefore
there is nothing false about a definition of intuition as a valid belief obtained outside of
awareness. Thus, a reasonable issue that remains to be resolved is whether such a definition is
scientifically useful, which will be considered in the section on the resolution of the eight
problems concerning intuition.
Problem 3: Identifying the Operating Principles and Attributes of Intuitive Processing
If intuition is to be understood, it is necessary to understand how it operates. Thus, a third
important issue that requires resolution is the identification of the operating principles and
Demystifying intuition 7
attributes of intuitive processing. As will be seen, there are a variety of views regarding this
issue. Which of these positions, if any, is correct, remains to be determined.
Problem 4: Is there a Source of Intuition that Identifies the Very Essence of Intuitive
Processing and Can Account for its Other Attributes?
All modern dual-process theories list operating principles and attributes of their proposed
intuitive-like systems, such as that the systems operates in a manner that is unconscious, rapid,
effortless, and associative (e.g., Chen & Chaiken, 1999; Hammond, 1996; Kahneman, 2003;
Petty & Wegener, 1999; Reber, 1993; Sloman, 1996; Smith & DeCoster, 2000; Stanovich &
West, 2000; Strack & Deutsch, 2004). It is not clear from their selection of operating principles
and attributes whether the authors regard any of them as fundamental and the others as
subordinate. Their position on this issue may be indicated by the titles they assign to their
systems. Thus, an issue to be resolved is whether there is a single operating principle that is so
fundamental that it can account for all the rules and attributes of intuitive processing.
Problem 5: Is a Dual-process Theory Necessary to Account for Intuitive and Analytical
Processing or or Can They be Accounted for by a Single Process?
Some authors believe that it requires two qualitatively different processing systems to
account for the differences between intuitive and analytic information processing (e.g., Chen &
Chaiken, 1999; Epstein, 1973, 1994, 2003; Hogarth, 2001; Kahneman’s (2003) revised view;
Myers, 2002; Petty & Wegener, 1999; Sloman, 1996; Smith & DeCoster, 2000; Strack &
Deutsch, 2004). Others, including Simon (1992), Kahneman, Slovic, & Tversky (1982), and
Kruglansky, Thompson, and Spiegel (1999), believe that intuitive and analytical thinking are
simply different levels of processing within a single system. Thus the fifth problem to be
resolved is whether two qualitatively different processing systems are necessary to account for
the differences between intuitive and analytical information processing.
Demystifying intuition 8
Problem 6: How Important is the Role of Experience in Intuition?
Several authors (e.g., Betsch, 2008; Epstein, 1973, 2003; Hogarth, 2001; Simon, 1992)
regard experience as playing a vital role in intuitive processing. As previously noted, Simon
regards intuition as “nothing more nor nothing less than recognition” (Simon, 1992, p. 195).
Recognition, of course, requires recollection of previous experience. Hammond (1996), however,
takes exception to Simon’s view as unnecessarily restrictive, as he believes it excludes the most
interesting aspects of intuition, such as its use of imagery, its emphasis on case histories, and its
contribution to creativity. Although some regard learning from experience as a most fundamental
aspect of intuition, others do not consider it as sufficiently important to be worth mentioning. In
the twenty definitions of intuition listed by Abernathy and Hamm (1995), not one refers directly
to experience, and only one does so indirectly by referring to pattern recognition.
It is noteworthy that comparisons of judgments based on experience and deliberative
reasoning go back as far as the following statement by Aristotle:
While young men become geometricians and mathematicians and wise in
matters like these, it is thought that a young man of practical wisdom cannot be
found. The cause is that such wisdom is concerned not only with universals but
with particulars, which become familiar with experience, but a young man has no
experience (cited in McKeon, 1947).
Given the disagreement on the importance of experience regarding intuition, the role of
experience in intuition obviously requires resolution.
Problem 7: How Important is the Role of Affect/Emotion in Intuition? Many definitions of
intuition are completely cognitive and make no mention of emotions or affect. Among the twenty
definitions of intuition in the survey by Abernathy and Hamm (1995), only one mentions
feelings. In contrast to those who make no mention of feelings, there are others who consider
Demystifying intuition 9
affect to be a fundamental aspect of intuition. Slovic and his colleagues (Slovic et al., 2002)
identify what they refer to as an affect heuristic, according to which affect is a direct and
important influence on intuitive thinking. According to Chen and Chaiken (1999) the operation
of intuitive processes may be revealed by emotions. Others (e.g., Hayashi, 2001; Shapiro &
Spence, 1997; Barnard, 1938; and Agor, 1989) use affective terms, such as “gut feelings,” “gut
instincts,” and “feeling in our marrow” in describing intuitive thinking. Bastick (1982) regards
intuition as “feelings which guide our common actions” (p. 2). Others who emphasize feelings as
an important aspect of intuition are deGroot, Gobet, and Jongman (1996), Schwartz (1990), and
Westcott and Ranzoni (1963).
In summary, there is considerable disagreement about whether feelings are an important
aspect of intuition. Accordingly, an important issue to be resolved is the place of affect in
Problem 8: What are the Relative Advantages and Disadvantages of Expriential/Intuitive
and Rational/Analytic Processing?
Last, and perhaps most controversial, is the relative evaluation of the two systems.
Among the twenty definitions in the Abernathy and Hamm (1995) survey, intuition is viewed
favorably by some and unfavorably by others. Included among the former are extreme statements
such as “intuition is infallible,” and more modest views that “intuitive cognition can outperform
analysis.” Included among the latter are statements that “intuition is just lazy thinking” and
“intuition is the use of fallible heuristic strategies.” Most authors (e.g., Chen & Chaiken, 1999;
Hogarth, 2001; Myers, 2002; Nisbett & Ross, 1980; Petty & Wegener, 1999; Kahneman, Slovic,
& Tversky, 1982) acknowledge that intuition has important positive features, such as being rapid
and effortless, but, on balance consider it to be often inaccurate and inferior to analytical
reasoning. However, as will be seen later, there are a variety of desirable attributes not
Demystifying intuition 10
considered by these authors in which intuitive processing plays a greater role than analytical
processing. For now, it will suffice to identify the relative advantages and disadvantages of
experiential/intuitive and rational/analytic processing as an important issue that warrants further
Cognitive-experiential Self-theory: A Dual-Process Theory
that Provides an Explanation of Intuition
According to cognitive-experiential self theory (CEST) humans operate with two
information-processing systems, an experiential system, which is an automatic, associative
learning system and a rational/analytic system, which is a verbal reasoning system. The systems
operate by different rules and have different attributes. Although the experiential system
encompasses a domain more extensive than intuition (i.e., it also accounts for a variety of other
kinds of non-analytical thinking and beliefs, including superstitious thinking, irrational fears,
unusual beliefs, and fundamentalist religious beliefs), the operating rules and attributes of
intuitive processing are identical according to CEST with those that in the broader domain.
However, to draw attention to the focus in this chapter on intuition, I refer in this article to the
system as the experiential/intuitive system, which elsewhere when considering its broader
domain I have referred to as the experiential system. The important point is that no matter which
way I refer to it, the operating principles and attributes s are assumed to be identical, and the only
difference is in the boundary conditions of their range of content.
The experiential/intuitive system is the same system with which non-human animals have
successfully adapted to their environments over millions of years of evolution. It is very likely
more advanced in humans, with their larger brains, than in other primates, just as other primate’s
associative learning systems are more advanced than that of other animals. I named the system as
an experiential system because its primary function is to learn from experience. It operates in a
Demystifying intuition 11
manner that is associative, preconscious, automatic, nonverbal, imagistic, rapid, effortless,
concrete, holistic, intimately associated with affect, intrinsically highly compelling, and
minimally demanding of cognitive resources. Most of these characteristics have been validated
in a research program for testing the assumptions in CEST (see reviews in Epstein, 2003 and in
Epstein & Pacini, 1999).
The content of the experiential/intuitive system consists primarily of generalizations from
experience, and its major motive is to behave according to the hedonic principle, i.e., to pursue
positive affect and avoid negative affect. This makes the experiential system an affect-driven
cognitive system. Given a cognitive system that can associate behavior with outcomes and the
motivation to feel good and to avoid feeling bad, it follows that the cognitive system will be used
in the service of obtaining good feelings and avoiding bad feelings. An important result of such
behavior is that it transforms the “kinder, gentler” unconscious of cognitive science into a full-
blooded, three-dimensional unconscious similar in this respect to the unconscious of
psychoanalysis. However, in contrast to the unconscious in psychoanalysis, the unconscious in
CEST is an adaptive learning system rather than Freud’s maladaptive, psychotic-like system
inferred from dreams (for further discussion of this issue see Epstein, 1994, 2003).
Although it is beyond the capacity of the experiential/intuitive system to understand
cause-and-effect relations, it achieves similar adaptive results by automatically associating
stimuli and responses with outcomes. This view is consistent with modern learning theory
according to which conditioning is no longer considered to be just a mechanical connection of
stimuli with each other and with responses but rather involves the construction of a model of the
world that allows animals (including humans) to negotiate their environments adaptively (e.g.,
Hollis, 1997; Rescorla, 1988). The essence of the operation of the experiential/intuitive system is
that it is an associative learning system that includes classical conditioning, operant conditioning,
Demystifying intuition 12
and observational learning. Despite the differences in these processes they are part an overall
system because they operate by the same rules, have the same processing attributes (see Table 1),
and contribute to accomplishing the same purpose, namely establishing a working model of the
environment. The implications of such automatic, implicit learning from experience is that the
information acquired from all three procedures is the primary source of intuitive “knowing
outside of awareness without knowing how one knows.”
Although the experiential/intuitive system encodes experience primarily in the form of
context-specific concrete representations (e.g., images, scenarios, affect, and physical sensations)
it can generalize in the form of individual generalization gradients and their confluence. The
height and breadth of the generalization gradients are assumed to be a direct function of the
emotional intensity of the initial experiences that were the sources of the generalizations (e.g.,
Dollard & Miller, 1950; Hull, 1943). The experiential/intuitive system in combination with the
rational/intuitive system also generalizes in more complex ways through the construction and
comprehension of metaphors, scripts, narratives, and myths.
There are undoubtedly anatomical and physiological correspondences with the two
processing systems. Very likely multiple locations are involved, possibly related to hemispheric
asymmetry and cortical and subcortical levels. However, this is not a critical issue for CEST, as
CEST is concerned with the operating rules and attributes of the experiential/intuitive and the
rational/analytic systems no matter how they are biologically localized.
In contrast to the outcome-orientation of the experiential system, the rational system is a
verbal reasoning system that operates according to a person’s understanding of logical inference.
The system operates in a manner that is conscious, abstract, analytic, affect-free, effortful, and
highly demanding of cognitive resources. It acquires its beliefs by logical inference. Although,
Demystifying intuition 13
like the experiential system, it learns from experience, it does so by reasoning and not by
automatic learning. (For a more complete comparison of the two systems see Table 1).
Present Table 1 about here
Compared to the experiential/intuitive system, the rational system has a very brief
evolutionary history, and its long-term adaptive value remains to be established. Combining the
two systems in a single organism may yet turn out to be a failed experiment of evolution that can
result in the demise of the species. However, there remains the hope that the rational system can
solve the problems presented by the potentially destructive interaction of the two systems.
The two systems are assumed to operate in parallel and to be interactive. Their interaction
will be discussed in greater detail later. For now, it will suffice to note that all behavior is
considered in CEST to be influenced by both systems. Their relative influence varies along a
dimension of complete dominance by one system to complete dominance by the other (Epstein,
1994; Hammond, 1996). However, for convenience I shall refer to behavior as experientially or
rationally determined if it is primarily determined by one system or the other. The extent to
which people think or behave primarily according to one of the systems is considered to be a
function of the situation and the person.
The Content and Boundary Conditions of the Experiential/Intuitive System
The domain of the experiential system includes all phenomena that are based on non-
analytic information processing. Included in this domain are everyday automatic information
processing, irrational fears, religious beliefs, superstitions, esoteric beliefs such as a belief in
extrasensory perception, heuristic responses based on non-analytic processing (e.g.,
visualization, holistic representations, heuristic responses excluding those based on reduced or
Demystifying intuition 14
degraded rational/analytic processing) and learned perceptual-motor coordination as in sport
activities. This domain is obviously much larger than the domain of intuition. As the operating
principles and attributes regarding the two domains are identical, the experiential/intuitive
system can be regarded as a subset of the experiential system.
The Interaction of the Two Systems
According to CEST, the two systems interact bi-directionally simultaneously and
Sequential interaction. As the experiential/intuitive system is the more rapidly reacting
system, people’s initial reaction to a situation is usually experiential. If the initial response
tendency is identified as unacceptable, the rational/analytic system is often able to modify or
suppress its expression. If the experiential/intuitive response tendency is acceptable and
considered appropriate it will be expressed. When the experiential/intuitive system, reacting
automatically outside of awareness, is unidentified the sequence of responses is likely to be as
follows: the experiential/intuitive system reacts first with an automatic favorable or unfavorable
interpretation and response tendency based on past experience. The person then expresses the
prompting from the experiential/intuitive by behaving accordingly. Unaware of the unconscious
determinants of the behavior (including conscious thoughts) the person seeks a rational
explanation for the behavior. The result is that under the combined influence of the hedonic
principle of the experiential/intuitive system and the reality principle of the rational/analytic
system the person arrives at the most favorable interpretation the person can think of within
acceptable reality considerations. In other words the person rationalizes in a self-enhancing
manner. According to CEST this sequence is extremely important in understanding why a
species as uniquely intelligent in solving impersonal problems (in the domain of the
rational/analytic system) often solves interpersonal problems (in the domain of the
Demystifying intuition 15
experiential/intuitive system) regarding both individuals and societies in irrational and
Now consider the opposite direction of influence, in which a response determined
primarily by the rational/analytic system produces an association in the experiential/intuitive
system that then influences a person’s subsequent conscious thoughts and behavior. Moreover, as
any response (including a conscious thought) in the rational/analytic system can evoke an
association in the experiential/intuitive system, which can then influence conscious thoughts and
behavior in the rational/analytic system, which can produce further associations in the
experiential system, and so on. Thus, rather than just an interaction between single responses in
the two systems, the two systems can interact in the manner of a dance between them, in which a
step in one of the systems elicits a step in the other system.
What is the relation of intelligence and the degree to which people rationalize? Are intelligent
people more objective and logical and therefore less likely to rationalize? Whether this is
generally true or not, highly intelligent people are not exempt from the distorting influence of
their experiential/intuitive system on their reasoning, as demonstrated in the following quotation
from the brilliant German physicist and Nobel laureate Philip Lenard in his book German
Physics: “Jewish physics can best and most justly be characterized by recalling the activity of
one who is probably its most prominent representative, the pure-blooded Jew, Albert Einstein.
His relativity theory was supposed to transform all physics, but when faced with reality, it did
not have a leg to stand on. In contrast to the intractable and solicitous desire for truth in the
Aryan scientist, the Jew lacks to a striking degree any comprehension of truth” (in Calaprice,
1996, p. 236). An important lesson from this passage is that one should never underestimate the
vulnerability of the rational/analytic system to the distorting influence of the
Demystifying intuition 16
The simultaneous interaction of the two systems. As previously noted the two
processing systems can interact simultaneously as well as sequentially. This is well illustrated in
the research on the ratio-bias (RB) phenomenon, which places the two systems in opposition to
each other at the same time. The RB phenomenon refers to people behaving non-optimally by
preferring frequency information when probability information is more informative. In its most
popular form, it consists of a game of chance in which participants choose between drawing
blindly from one of two trays. One of the trays offers a higher probability of drawing a winning
red jellybean (e.g., 1 red jelly bean out of 10 jellybeans) and the other that offers a greater
number of red jellybeans but a lower probability of obtaining one (e.g., 5-9 red jelly beans out of
100 jellybeans). The information about the number and probability of drawing a red jellybean are
explicitly and simultaneously made available, so both are equally accessible and neither requires
more cognitive effort than the other. Yet, surprising as it may seem, in repeated experiments
most participants prefer to draw from the tray that is frequency advantaged and slightly
probability disadvantaged (e.g., 9 in 100 vs. 1 in 10), and a substantial number even prefer to
draw from the tray that is considerably probability disadvantaged (5 in 100 vs. 1 in 10).
The RB phenomen can be explained by the experiential/intuitive system better
comprehending concrete information, such as frequencies, better than abstract information, such
as relations between numbers, or probabilities. That a comprehension of frequency is an
extremely fundamental reaction in the domain of the experiential/intuitive system is indicated by
the sensitivity to frequency in non-human animals and in preverbal children (Gallistel, 1989;
Gallistel & Gelman, 1992; Hasher & Zacks, 1984). There are several important lessons that can
be learned from the RB phenomenon, the most important of which is that people often establish
compromises between the two processing systems. Thus most people are willing to respond
slightly non-optimally in favor of frequency information, but most are not willing to make
Demystifying intuition 17
frequency-advantaged responses that are more non-optimal. However there is a substantial
number of people who make extreme non-optimal responses, preferring to draw from a tray that
offers 5 in 100 winning items rather than from one that offers 1 in 10 winning items. The RB
phenomenon also indicates that people often experience a conflict between the two systems,
which participants often spontaneously report. The phenomenon also demonstrates the
compelling quality of experiential/intuitive processing and how it can co-opt the rational/analytic
system into supporting its processing by extreme rationalization, as indicated by the following
example. One of my undergraduate research assistant came to my office one day and said,
“Professor Epstein, I hate to tell you this, but I think it is important for you to know it. I don’t
think you should count the preference for the tray with more winners as a non-optimal response.
If I were in a statistics class of course I would say I would go for the better probability. However,
in real life, it is far better to go for the greater number of winners.” I asked her what she would
do if a million dollars were at stake. She said, “I then would definitely pick from the tray with
more winners because I would really want to win.”
The Relative Strengths and Limitations of the Two Processing Systems
On the positive side, the rational system is the source of humankind’s remarkable
accomplishments. It is able to think at high and complex levels of abstraction with the aid of
verbal symbols and to accumulate knowledge across cultures and generations through written
language. It is capable of understanding cause and effect relations, of planning for the future, of
applying broad abstract principles across situations, and of taking long-term consideration into
account. On the basis of such thinking it has been the source of humankind’s remarkable
achievements in science, technology, mathematics, medicine, and other disciplines, that no other
species comes close to emulating.
Demystifying intuition 18
On the negative side, the rational system is too effortful and slow for efficiently
directing everyday behavior. People do not deliberate over their everyday behavior, they simply
behave. A further limitation of the rational system is that it is an affect-free verbal reasoning
system. Its lack of affect-driven motivation leaves it with its only direct source of motivation
being cognitions about how one should behave, which may be a weak and easily biased source of
influence when in conflict with strong, emotion-based motives in the experiential system. An
example of this is the occurrence of phobias. People may desperately wish to get rid of them to
no avail. Will-power ( in the domain of the rational system), is rarely up to the task of
vanquishing phobias. In psychotherapy people often find that intellectual insight makes little
difference but that what is successful is the use of procedures that produce changes in the
experiential system, as in systematic desensitization, which is a de-conditioning procedure.
Before proceeding with further advantages and disadvantages of the two systems, a
caveat is in order regarding the statement that the rational system is an affect-free system. The
statement is not mean that people cannot be intensely emotionally involved in intellectual
pursuits. What it does mean is that the rational system by itself is a verbal reasoning system that
does not have its own source of affect. It simply consists of rules of reasoning. However, as all
behavior according to CEST is influenced by both systems, the emotional involvement in
intellectual endeavors is assumed to be the result of infused affect from the experiential/intuitive
system. The source of such affect is likely to be a person’s reinforcement history regarding
A problem with the rational/analytic system is that it has made it possible to develop
highly sophisticated and effective implements of mass destruction, as in chemical warfare, germ
warfare, and hydrogen bombs, with the latter already having the capacity to destroy the human
species. However, the very brilliant rational/analytic system that can construct such destructive
Demystifying intuition 19
weaponry can also be the source of preventing its use by understanding the influence of the
experiential/intuitive system on the rational/analytic system. Through such understanding
people’s ability to reason objectively and logically can be improved, which could result in
directing the behavior promoted by the interaction of the two systems into constructive channels.
The strengths of the experiential/intuitive system are that it rapidly and effortlessly
directs everyday behavior, it is a source of affect-driven compelling motivation, it can establish a
sufficiently accurate model of the environment that allows for effective adaptation to the
environment by empirically learning from experience, it provides an alternative source of
decision-making that is sometimes more effective than decisions made by deliberative reasoning,
and by relying on “multiple fallible indicators” it can avoid the catastrophic consequences that
can occur from small errors in linear-reasoning (Brunswik, 1956; Hammond, 1996). Because of
its different manner of information processing from conscious reasoning (see Table 1) it can
better solve some kinds of problems than analytical reasoning can. For example there are
problems that cannot be reduced by analysis to their components and therefore are not amenable
to analytical solutions.
Some examples of research that demonstrated an advantage of experiential/intuitive over
rational/analytic processing in certain circumstances are as follows. Hammond and his associates
(Hammond, Hamm, Grassia, & Pearson, 1987) found that expert engineers who used an intuitive
approach performed more effectively in a highway-design task in which esthetics was an
important consideration than when they used an analytical approach. Wilson and his co-workers
(Wilson, Dunn, Kraft, &Lisle, 1989) reported that participants who analyzed the reasons for their
attitudes were less able to predict their later behavior than those who responded more
spontaneously. In another study Wilson and his co-workers (Wilson, Lisle, Schooler, Hodges,
Klaaren, & aFleur, 1993) found that students who analyzed their preferences for posters before
Demystifying intuition 20
bringing one home were less satisfied with it after two weeks than those who selected a poster
based on their feelings. Wilson and Schooler (1991) reported that students who thought carefully
about their preference for various jams performed more poorly when judged against expert
opinion than students who made more holistic judgments. They also found that spontaneous
preferences for college courses better predicted the judgments of experts than preferences based
on detailed, analytic evaluations. In a study by Epstein & Yanko (1999), young children
exhibited an intuitive understanding of ratios expressed in small numbers in a game of chance
but lost this ability when they were asked to give the reasons for their choices. Dijksterhuis
(2004) and Reber (1993) found that experiential/intuitive processing can more effectively solve
some kinds of complex problems than rational/analytic processing. Norris and Epstein (in
review) found a variety of previously unrecognized desirable abilities and attributes of an
experiential/intuitive thinking style that will be discussed in a section on individual differences.
On the negative side the non-rational thinking of the experiential/intuitive system can be
a source of irrational and destructive thinking and behavior, as evidenced in superstitious beliefs,
irrational fears such as phobias, and aggression toward people who are different from oneself.
Attributes of the experiential system, such as associative, concrete, and categorical thinking, a
tendency to seek targets for emotional expression, and the influence of the experiential system on
promoting rationalization have been a source of atrocities throughout the course of history.
Among the more irrationally destructive examples are the massacre of people of other faiths in
the service of a loving God, the burning of witches after forcing them to admit under torture that
they consorted with the devil, the “honorable” position of the clergy during the Inquisition of
disapproving of the drawing blood but condoning every other kinds of torture including burning
at the stake, the proof obtained that Jews caused the bubonic plague by forcing them to confess
under torture that they poisoned wells, the slaughtering of Christian civilians as well as infidels
Demystifying intuition 21
during the Crusades with the rationalization that God will know his own, and the trial by jury
and hanging at the gallows in the 15th and 16th century of animals convicted of having behaved in
unnatural or harmful to humans (Evans, 1987).
Each system has an interesting advantage and disadvantage with respect to influencing
the other system. With an apology for reifying the systems for the sake of simplicity, an
important advantage of the rational/analytic system is that it can understand the
experiential/intuitive system, whereas the experiential/intuitive system cannot understand
anything; it can simply automatically react based on past experience.
An important advantage of the experiential system is that it can influence the rational
system without the rational system knowing it is being influenced. The experiential/intuitive
system can accomplish this not only because of its initial operation outside of awareness but also
because of its ability to co-opt the rational/analytic to rationalize in a self-serving manner.
Can the Experiential System Reason?
An interesting question with important implications for intuitive thinking is whether the
experiential system can reason. The answer depends on one’s definition of reasoning. If
reasoning is restricted to the application of rules of logic with the use of verbal symbols, the
experiential system as a nonverbal system can not reason by definition. However, with a broader
definition of reasoning, such as that it consists of solving problems through the use of mental
operations in the absence of overt behavior, then the experiential system can reason. It can do so
by the use of its capacity for visualization and feeling. Although learning by overt trial and error
does not qualify as reasoning, if the trial and error is carried out by visualization, it does qualify
by this definition. The way the experiential system reasons in this manner is that when higher-
order animals including people imagine alternatives, the alternatives are often accompanied by
“vibes” if not by more definitive emotions. Vibes are defined as vague feelings, such as
Demystifying intuition 22
disquietude and agitation that are less articulated than emotions. The feelings then influence
the selection among the imagined alternatives, with the alternative that feels best or least bad
being selected. Such reasoning by visualization has significant implications for intuition because
it indicates that people’s experiential systems can use a kind of reasoning different from their
conscious, deliberative verbal reasoning, and that it therefore may be able to solve problems or
assist the rational system in solving problems that the rational system could not otherwise solve.]
Individual differences in Experiential/Intuitive Information Processing
It may be recalled that individual differences were observed in the research on the RB
phenomenon, with some people always making optimal responses and most people making non-
optimal responses to various degrees. More extensive research on individual differences was
conducted with two specially constructed instruments, the Constructive Thinking Inventory
(CTI) for measuring the intelligence or efficacy of the experiential/intuitive system and the
Rational/Experiential Inventory (REI) for measuring the degree to which people engage in
rational/analytic and experiential/intuitive information processing.
The Constructive Thinking Inventory (CTI). Not all intuitive/experiential systems are
equal. Some are more “intelligent” than others as indicated by how effectively they automatically
direct people’s behavior in everyday life. The CTI (Epstein, 1998, 2001; Epstein & Meier, 1989)
was constructed to measure such individual differences. The CTI is not a pure measure of
experiential/intuitive processing because it includes a component of rational/analytic processing.
This follows from the consideration that all behavior is determined by both systems. The CTI
was constructed using items mainly based on a sample of daily reports of people’s thoughts and
interpretations immediately preceding their strongest emotional responses to daily events
Addition items that were included that were based on the automatic constructive and destructive
thoughts and beliefs described in the literature on cognitive-behavioral therapy. Following are
Demystifying intuition 23
examples of some typical items: “I spend much more time mentally rehearsing my failures
than remembering my successes.” “When doing unpleasant chores, I make the best of it by
thinking pleasant or interesting thoughts.” “I look at challenges not as something to fear, but as
an opportunity to test myself and learn.”
The CTI includes a global scale and the following six main scales, all but one of which
contains subscales: Emotional Coping, Behavioral Coping, Categorical Thinking, Esoteric
Thinking, Personal Superstitious Thinking, and Naïve Optimism.
Scores on the CTI have consistently been found to be independent of intellectual
intelligence. They are significantly positively correlated with a variety of criteria of success in
living, including social competence, work success, mental adjustment, and physical wellbeing
(e.g., Epstein, 1992a, 1992b, 2001; Epstein & Katz, 1992; Epstein & Meier, 1989, Katz &
Epstein, 1991; Scheuer & Epstein, 1997). The only criteria with which intelligence-test scores
are more strongly associated than CTI scores are measures of intellectual performance.
Interestingly, although IQ is more strongly associated with intellectual performance, such as
grade point average, CTI scores contribute significantly to the prediction of classroom
performance beyond the prediction of intelligence and achievement tests. Apparently, students
with high CTI scores are better able to translate their intellectual ability into favorable outcomes
in real life than others.
The question may be raised as to how a single instrument like the CTI can be positively
correlated with so wide an array of criteria of success in living. The answer is that people who
automatically think and interpret events in more constructive ways than others fare better in life
in general. More specifically, people who spontaneously view challenges as learning
opportunities rather than threats, who think about chores in a positive rather than in a distressing
manner, who think in ways that promote effective action, who are trusting of others but not
Demystifying intuition 24
naively so, who live in the present, plan for the future, and do not dwell on the past, who are
realistically but not unreasonably optimistic, and who automatically think in a wide variety of
more constructive ways than others tend to be more successful than others in all aspects of
The Rational/Experiential Inventory (REI). What are the advantages and
disadvantages of experiential/intuitive and rational/analytic thinking styles? The REI was
constructed to answer this question. The REI is a self-report instrument that measures individual
differences in the two thinking styles (Epstein, Pacini, Denes-Raj, & Heier., 1996; Pacini &
Epstein, 1999b; Pacini, Muir, & Epstein, 1998; Norris & Epstein, in press). It differs from the
CTI as it measures the degree to which people report they have experiential/intuitive and
rational/analytical thinking styles rather than the efficacy of their experiential/intuitive
processing. Initially we expected the experiential/intuitive and rational/analytic thinking styles
would represent opposite ends of a dimension. Instead, they were repeatedly found to be
With the use of the REI we found completely new relations of an experiential/intuitive
thinking style with a variety of desirable abilities and attributes. Table 2 summarizes the relations
found in several studies between scores on the REI scales and a variety of criterion-variables
(Epstein, Pacini, Denes-Raj, & Heier, 1996; Norris & Epstein, in press; Pacini & Epstein, 1999a;
Pacini, Muir, & Epstein, 1998). Some of the attributes and abilities that are significantly
correlated with the REI are based on self-reported information but others are based on objective
performance measures.. The objective measures include performance in experimental situations,
intelligence test scores, and performance on tasks that measure creativity, sense of humor,
intuitive ability, and aesthetic judgment.
Demystifying intuition 25
Insert Table 2 about here
It can be seen in Table 2 that a rational/analytic thinking style is more strongly positively
related than an experiential/intuitive thinking style with intellectual performance and a variety of
measures related to good adjustment, including low anxiety, low depression, low stress, low
neuroticism, high self-esteem and high meaningfulness of life. An experiential/intuitive thinking
is positively associated with measures of creativity, empathy, aesthetic judgment, intuitive
ability, and establishing satisfactory interpersonal relationships. It is also associated with several
unfavorable attributes, including naïve optimism, Pollyannaish thinking, stereotyped beliefs,
superstitious beliefs, and unrealistic beliefs. It is obvious from the relations in Table 2 that no
general statement can be made about the superiority of either thinking style, as each is superior
in some important ways and inferior in other ways..
It is important in interpreting the information in Table 2 to recognize that a high score on
an experiential/intuitive thinking style can be obtained with different patterns of responses. For
example an experiential/intuitive thinking style in a particular individual could be associated
with all of the desirable and none of the undesirable criterion-variables, or it could be associated
with all of the undesirable criterion-variables and few of the desirable ones. It is also important
to recognize that, as the two thinking styles are independent (e.g., Epstein, Pacini, Denes-Raj, &
Heier, 1996; Norris & Epstein, in press; Pacini & Epstein, 1999a; Pacini, Muir, & Epstein,
1998), it is possible for a person to be high on both thinking styles, high on either thinking style
and low on the other thinking style, or low on both thinking styles.
Another interesting way to compare the two systems is by the role they play in
establishing a sufficiently accurate working model of the environment to allow for effective
adaptation. The experiential/intuitive system does so empirically by learning from experience
Demystifying intuition 26
whereas the rational/analytic system does so by reasoning. Each of these manners of
adaptation has its advantages and disadvantages. Humans could not exist as viable organisms if
they did not have an experiential/intuitive system and they could not make their unique
accomplishments if they did not have a rational/analytic system.
Conclusions Regarding Intuition and the Experiential/Intuitive System
Having reviewed some of the more fundamental aspects of CEST, the question may be
raised as to how much of the material is relevant to an understanding of intuition defined as a
sense of knowing without knowing how one knows. The answer is that according to CEST it is
all relevant, as intuition is nothing more and somewhat less than the experiential system of
CEST. Thus, to understand intuition it is necessary to understand the rules and attributes of the
experiential/intuitive operating system. It is also important to recognize that intuition is not an
isolated phenomenon different essentially from other phenomena related to automatically
learning from experience. Intuition is neither magical nor mystical. It is simply the recovery
outside of awareness primarily of tacit information acquired from experience or, less often,
responding to entirely new situations according to the principles and attributes of the
Having an understanding of the operating rules and attributes of the experiential/intuitive
system and a perspective on its place within a broader adaptive system, we are now in a position
to attempt to resolve the eight problems concerning intuition. .
Resolving the Eight Unresolved Problems Concerning Intuition
Resolving Problem 1: The Boundary Conditions of Intuition
Intuition is regarded in CEST as a subset of the experiential/intuitive system as it operates
with the same principles and attributes of experiential/intuitive processing but has narrower
boundary conditions. Should intuition have such narrower boundaries, or should the intuitive and
Demystifying intuition 27
experiential systems be equivalent in all ways? As previously noted, Hogarth (2001) and
Myers (2002), do equate intuition with the entire experiential system. For them intuition
encompasses all non-rational beliefs, which would therefore have to include superstitious beliefs,
irrational fears, religious beliefs, esoteric beliefs, and learned perceptual-motor coordination. As
such a position is far removed from the way intuition is normally used and understood, CEST
takes the more practical position of omitting such beliefs and processes from the domain of
intuition. What remains within the domain of intuition then are all the other kinds of information
and beliefs primarily determined by the operating principles and attributes of the
experiential/intuitive system, which include implicit beliefs and information automatically
learned from experience (the main body of intuition) as well as beliefs and impressions based on
the operation of the same principles and having the same attributes of processing but unrelated to
past experience. The operation of this latter kind of intuitive processing was exhibited in the
research on the ratio-bias phenomenon previously presented in which most people found the
frequency of winning items more compelling than the probability of drawing one, which
influenced them to make non-optimal responses despite knowing that it was non-optimal in their
rational mind. Of course, according to the phenomenological definition of intuition provided
earlier such thought and behavior would not qualify as intuitive processing as its source is
known, namely the frequency of winning items. However, from the perspective of CEST such
thought and behavior does qualify as intuitive because it is based on the principles and attributes
of experiential/intuitive processing and whether one is conscious of the source is not critical.
Moreover, in other situations the same kinds of influence can occur outside of awareness, which
would then qualify the processing as intuitive according to the phenomenological definition of
Demystifying intuition 28
Other kinds of thinking and beliefs that fall under the rubric of intuition according to
the boundary conditions proposed above are judgments and decisions based on feelings rather
than on reasoning, creative thinking that is based on associative connections and imagistic
representations, heuristics that are based on experiential processing but not on reduced cognitive
effort, and wisdom that is based mainly on learning from experience.
A comment is warranted on whether the domain of the experiential system includes more
than implicit information acquired from past experience. That the domain of intuition includes
such thought and behavior is suggested by the concept of pre-adaptation (Mayr, 1960; Rozin,
2007) or neural re-use (Anderson, in press). According to this concept, once a process has
evolved for one purpose it can be used for other purposes. An example is wolves baring their
teeth originally in preparation for attack, but then using the same response for communication,
which avoided the need for a potentially damaging attack, .Although the experiential system
evolved to serve the purpose of learning from experience, once in place its principles of
operation and attributes, such as holistic and visual processing can be used in reacting to
completely new situations. As a result of such processing, people can gain impressions that are
intuitive according to the phenomenological definition of intuition as well as according to CEST.
Resolving Problem 2: Should Intuition be Restricted to Valid Beliefs?
As previously noted, definitions cannot be considered valid or invalid as they simply are
a means of indicating the meaning that someone wishes to attribute to the use of a term.
However, definitions in science can be evaluated for how useful they are for promoting
understanding. It is on that basis that I believe that defining intuition as consisting only of valid
beliefs is too restrictive to be useful, which is not to deny that with its restricted meaning it can
serve a useful function, such as by promoting research on the conditions that can establish
whether intuition is valid.
Demystifying intuition 29
As the intuitive-experiential system according to CEST is an automatic learning
system that primarily reacts to present situations based on past experience, it follows that the
validity of intuitive beliefs will be influenced by the correspondence between present and past
experience. A woman who was sexually abused as a child may view the behavior of a man who
places his arms around her with the intention of being comforting as an unwanted sexual
advance. In such a case the person’s intuitive judgment is obviously invalid. Now consider a
slightly different scenario. A man wishes to take advantage of a woman’s distressed state by
acting sympathetic as part of his plan to seduce her. Something about the way he puts his arm
around her triggers a memory of another man who abused her as a child, which alerts her to the
intentions of the man in the current situation. In this case, the intuition is valid and allows the
woman to detect a potentially dangerous situation.
A second important consideration of whether experience will be a source of valid or
invalid intuition is the kind of feedback the experience provides. Hogarth (2001) refers to what
he calls kindly and wicked environments. Kindly environments provide accurate feedback
whereas wicked environments provide inconsistent or invalid feedback or no feedback at all. The
result is that experience in kindly environments is likely to generate accurate intuitions and
experience in wicked environments is likely to generate inaccurate intuitions such as
unwarranted confidence in false beliefs.
There are several problems with restricting the definition of intuition to valid beliefs.
First, as in the example, exactly the same process was involved in the valid and invalid
interpretation, so if one wishes to understand the process underlying intuition it is unreasonable
to restrict it only to valid implicit beliefs. Second, it is often impossible to determine whether an
implicit belief is valid, particularly at the time it is experienced, so if validity were made a
criterion for intuition, none of such beliefs could be considered intuitive. Third, it is awkward to
Demystifying intuition 30
have the label intuition refer only to valid implicit beliefs and to have no corresponding label
for invalid implicit beliefs.
As a result of such considerations, the position that intuition should be restricted to valid
implicit beliefs is undesirable.
Resolving Problem 3: The Rules and Attributes of Experiential/Intuitive Processing
According to CEST, intuition is a subsystem of the experiential system as it operates by
the same rules and has the same attributes as those summarized in Table 1. This raises the
question of how appropriate the rules and attributes of experiential processing actually are and
how they compare in this respect to the principles and attributes of intuitive processing proposed
In all other dual-process theories only a very limited number of operating principles and
attributes of intuitive processing are proposed, such as that the information in the intuitive
system is tacit and that the system operates in a manner that is associative, rapid, and relatively
undemanding of cognitive resources. In contrast, CEST lists several operating rules and 14
attributes of experiential/intuitive processing. The operating rules, which correspond to the rules
of associative learning, include congruity, affective reinforcement, repetition, extinction,
similarity, and generalization. These rules are operative in all three forms of associative learning,
namely classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning. The operating
rules and14 attributes of experiential/intuitive processing in Table 1 provide a detailed
description of the operation of the of experiential/intuitive system, such as that it is rapid,
preconscious, automatic, effortless, holistic, associative, concrete, imagistic, affective,
intrinsically compelling, self-evidently valid, and its operation is experienced passively.
Although other attributes, such as encoding information in the form of metaphors, scenarios, and
narratives include a greater component of rational/analytic processing than the other attributes,
Demystifying intuition 31
the rational/analytic component is considered subordinate to the experiential/intuitive
component. The principles of associative learning have been well established in a long history of
experimental research. With the exception of the few attributes that include a relatively strong
rational/analytic component, almost all of the 14 attributes in Table 1 either follow logically
from the assumption that the experiential/intuitive system is a non-verbal associative learning
system that humans share with other animals or have been supported in a research program
testing the assumptions in CEST (for reviews of the research, see Epstein, 2003; Epstein &
In conclusion, the principles and attributes of experiential/intuitive processing proposed
in CEST provide a much more thorough, integrated, and differentiated description of the
operational features of an experiential/intuitive system than any other dual-process theory.
Resolving Problem 4: Is there a Single Principle That Represents the Essence of
Experiential/Intuitive Processing and That Can Account for Almost All of Its Attributes?
Almost all of the attributes of an experiential/intuitive system in Table 1 can be derived
from the assumption that the system is an associative learning system that humans share with
other animals. As previously noted, although there are a few exceptions, such as representations
in the form of narratives, scripts, and metaphors that include a considerable but subordinate
verbal contribution by the rational/analytic system, the predominant experiential/intuitive
component can be explained by other attributes, such as associative, concretive, and affective
processing under the motivation of the hedonic principle. The assumption that the
experiential/intuitive system is an associative learning system that humans share with other
animals can account for the experiential/intuitive system operating in a manner that is
associative, automatic, effortless, unconscious, rapid, motivated by the hedonic principle,
affectively/emotionally reinforced, resistant to change, intrinsically compelling, and experienced
Demystifying intuition 32
passively. As the associative learning system is a nonverbal system, it accounts for the
imagistic and holistic attributes in Table 1. As it normally operates outside of awareness it
explains why the influence of the experiential/intuitive system is experienced passively, with
people not feeling in control of it in the way they feel in control of their conscious reasoning. As
the associative learning system is intimately related to emotions, it explains why it is inherently
compelling. In sum, almost all of the attributes of the experiential system in Table 1 can be
derived from the assumption that the experiential/intuitive system is a non-verbal associative
learning system that humans share with other animals.
Although most modern dual-process theories describe several attributes of their intuitive-
like systems, it is not clear whether they regard the attributes they list as equally important or
they believe that some are more fundamental than others, or, as in CEST, that an associative
learning system can account for all or almost all of the attributes they propose or that some other
fundamental system can do so. In the latter case, a reasonable assumption is that if there is a
single, most fundamental processing principle or attribute it is the one they selected to represent
their intuitive-like system. Among such titles are a “heuristic system” (Chaiken, 1980; Chen &
Chaiken, 1999), a “peripheral system” (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986; Petty & Wegener, 1999), an
“associative system” (Sloman, 1996; Smith & DeCoster, 2000), an “implicit system” (Johnson-
Laird, 1983; Reber, 1993), an “impulsive system” (Strack & Deutsch, 2004), a “tacit system”
(Hogarth, 2001), and a completely noncommittal “System 1.” (Kahneman, 2003; Stanovich &
West, 2000). None of these can be considered to identify the very essence of intuitive processing
in a manner that can account for almost all of its other proposed attributes.
In conclusion, a strong case can be made for a non-verbal associative learning system that
humans share with other animals being the very essence of experiential/intuitive processing from
which almost all the principles and attributes of experiential/intuitive processing can be derived.
Demystifying intuition 33
Resolving Problem 5: Two Information Processing Systems or One?
To provide support for two systems it is necessary to demonstrate that they operate by
different rules and/or have different attributes. In much of the research on heuristics by Tversky
and Kahneman and their associates as well as by others the results are indecisive regarding two
systems because no distinction is made between heuristics that are the result of
experiential/intuitive processing and heuristics that are the result of reduced cognitive effort
(e.g., Kahneman, Slovic, & Tversky, 1982). The picture is further clouded by both kinds of
heuristics being referred to as “cognitive short-cuts.”
In contrast to the research on “cognitive shortcuts, a series of studies on the RB
phenomenon provides strong support for the existence of two different processing system that
operate by different rules and have different attributes (Kirkpatric & Epstein, 1992; Denes-Raj
& Epstein, 1994; Denes-Raj, Epstein, & Cole, 1995; Pacini & Epstein, 1999b; Pacini, Muir &
Epstein, 1998). Other support is provided by research on conjunction problems (Donovan &
Epstein, 1997; Epstein, 1999; Epstein, Denes-Raj & Pacini, 1995; Epstein, Donovan, & Denes-
Raj, 1999; Epstein, Denes-Raj, & Pacini, 1995), on irrational responses to arbitrary outcomes
(Epstein, Lipson, Holstein, & Huh, 1992), and by research on conflicts between needs (Epstein
& Morling, 1995; Morling & Epstein, 1997). It was found in this research that people
spontaneously refer to the two systems, often identifying them with the heart and the head.
Evidence of two systems is also obtained when participants are asked to respond to vignettes
from two perspectives, once according how they or most others would behave in real life and
again from how a completely logical person would behave. Similar results are obtained when
participants are asked to respond according to their immediate thoughts and feelings and
according to their logical reasoning. Evidence for two systems is also obtained when people are
asked to list the first three responses that occur to them after reading various vignettes. Their first
Demystifying intuition 34
response is usually indicative of processing in the mode of the experiential/intuitive system
and the third response of processing according to the rational/analytic system.
Finally, the existence of two processing systems can be inferred on purely logical
grounds. It can be assumed according to a fundamental principle in evolutionary theory
(Darwin, C. (1859/1936; 1872/1955) that an adaptive system based on automatic, associative
learning from experience that has been successful in the adaptation of all other species
throughout the course of evolution was simply abandoned by humans once they acquired speech.
Nature does not give up its hard-won gains so easily. Moreover, there is abundant evidence that
humans automatically and associatively learn from experience by the same rules that govern
associative learning in other species and that these rules are different from the rules that govern
Resolving Problem 6: The Role of Experience in Intuition
The very essence of intuitive-experiential processing according to CEST is that it
operates according to the principles and attributes of associative learning from experience, which
is the source of the tacit information that constitutes the main body of intuitive information.
There are two ways in which learning from experience is or becomes a source of
intuition. The more usual way is by the learning being tacit as its source is not identified. The
other way is that procedural information initially acquired by deliberative processing in the
rational/analytic system becoming automatic, or “experientialized,” through practice. Chess
masters who at first had to consciously consider each move, after a great deal of practice have
acquired the tacit information in their experiential/intuitive system that allows them at a glance to
identify significant patterns (Chase & Simon, 1973). The superiority of experts over novices as a
result of such automatic learning from experience has also been observed in nurses, firefighters,
and military commanders (Klein, 1998).
Demystifying intuition 35
As noted previously, the experiential/intuitive system does not only respond to present
situations based on what was learned from past experience, although this is the major source of
intuitive beliefs. It also operates according to the principles and attributes of
experiential/intuitive processing when respond to entirely new situations, a process that has been
referred to as pre-adaptation (Mayr, 1960; Rozin, 2007) and neural re-use (Anderson, in press) in
which the principles of operation of a previous adaptive process are used for a new adaptation.
Resolving Problem 7: The Role of Affect/Emotion in Intuition
According to CEST, affect and emotions are critically important in the operation of the
experiential/intuitive system for three reasons. First, affect plays such an important role in the
reinforcement of associative learning that without affect there would no or very little such
learning and therefore no experiential/intuitive system or, at most, an extremely impoverished
one.. Second, affect is the most important source of motivation in the experiential/intuitive
system. According to CEST the superordinate motive in the experiential/intuitive system is to
behave according to the hedonic principle, the pursuit of positive affect and the avoidance of
negative affect. Third, emotions are regarded in CEST as the royal road to the schemas in the
experiential system. The stronger an emotional reaction to a stimulus, which is considered in
CEST to be the distal cause of an emotion, the more important the schema is considered to be
the proximal, or mediating cause of the emotion. For example, if a woman says her intelligence
is more important to her than her beauty but exhibits a stronger emotional reaction when her
beauty is slighted than when her intelligence is, it can be assumed that in her
intuitive/experiential system her beauty is more important to her than her intelligence.
In sum, there are strong reasons for concluding that affect and emotions are intimately
associated with intuition.
Demystifying intuition 36
Resolving Problem 8: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Experiential/Intuitive and
Rational/Analytic Information Processing
The evaluation of the two systems is arguably the source of the greatest bias by parties on
both sides of the debate. To provide a balanced perspective, I first discuss some influential
research on heuristics and decision-making commonly interpreted as demonstrating
the superiority of analytic over intuitive information processing. I next review selected research
from a program that provides some important new information on the relative contribution of the
Which Would You Choose?
If you had to choose between the intuitive-experiential system and the rational-analytical
system, which would you choose? On first consideration, you might choose the rational/analytic
system, as it is the source of humankind’s remarkable accomplishments. On second thought,
however, you might realize that without an experiential system you would be seriously
impoverished in very important ways, including not being able to make decisions in the absence
of guiding feelings. Damasio (1994) has found that people whose ability to have emotions is
impaired are unable to make value judgments and to act accordingly. So now, which system
would you choose? Before doing so, some information supportive of both sides of the debate will
be presented for your consideration..
Research on Heuristics
In the past few decades, a great deal of influential research has been conducted on faulty
decision-making as a result of heuristic processing. Heuristic processing refers to the use of
cognitive short-cuts that require reduced effort and time compared to deliberative, analytical
reasoning. It is regarded as the default option that people rely on in making most decisions in
everyday life. Research on heuristics has greatly influenced how social scientists’ currently view
Demystifying intuition 37
decision-making. Previously economists had assumed that people think in ways rationally
designed to maximize gains and minimize losses. It is now widely accepted that humans are not
as logical as previously believed, and that people often make decisions heuristically, in a non-
logical, effort-saving way that, although generally adaptive, is prone to certain kinds of errors
Errors that commonly result from heuristic processing when judged against normative
standards have often been interpreted as indicating that analytical processing is superior to
intuitive, heuristic processing (e.g., Myers, 2002; Nisbett & Ross, 1980; Shermer, 1997;
Kahneman, Slovic, & Tversky, 1982) and that it is therefore important to teach people to be
more prone to engage in deliberative analytical reasoning and to be more adept at it (e.g.,
Hogarth, 2001; Langer, 1989; Myers, 2002; Nisbett, 1993; Kahneman, Slovic, & Tversky, 1982).
One problem with this conclusion is that there has not been sufficient research on failures in
analytic reasoning to make a proper comparison with errors produced by heuristic thinking. It
remains to be seen that if an equal amount of such research were done it might be found that
people are just as prone to make errors in their analytical reasoning as they make when
responding by heuristic processing. Another problem is with the use of normative standards as
the only acceptable criterion for desirable performance. It is quite possible that many of the
errors people make based on normative criteria are adaptive if judged by practical real-life
behavior (see Gigerenzer et al., 1999 for a similar view and supporting research). The Linda
conjunction problem provides an interesting example of such responses. In responding to the
Linda problem an occasional participant has ranked the likelihood that Linda is a feminist and a
bank teller as greater than the likelihood that she is just a feminist, thereby making a conjunction
error, as two things can not be more likely than one of them. When we have pointed this out to
such participants, some have defended their response by stating that Linda has to make a living,
so she can not just be a feminist. How serious an error is this? If one considers the practical
Demystifying intuition 38
implications of such thinking, it may actually be adaptive to take into account the importance
of making a living. A person who is good at solving abstract problems but whose mind does not
turn to practical concerns such as making a living may fare worse in real life than a person who
illogically behaves in the opposite manner. Remember that the intuitive-experiential system
developed in the course of evolution for its adaptive value, not for its ability to produce high
scores on intelligence tests.
A further consideration is that the wording of a heuristic problem like the Linda problem
makes it highly likely that people will view it as a personality problem on the basis of past
experience with similarly worded problems. In other words, the problem is presented in a context
in which people consider it to be a personality problem rather than a probability problem. The
conclusion usually arrived at from such research is that a suprizing number of people do not
know the conjunction rule, one of the simplest rules in probability theory. Yet, when we present
the problem in a more realistic context, such as whether one is more likely to win two lotteries,
one with much more favorable odds than the other, suddenly almost everyone knows the
conjunction rule and states that it is less likely to win two lotteries than just one of them
(Epstein, Denes-Raj, & Pacini, 1995).
Another important problem concerning the conclusion that research on heuristic
processing indicates a general superiority of the rational/analytic system over the
intuitive/experiential system is that the research is very narrow in scope. As shown in the section
on CEST, the experiential/intuitive system is superior to the rational/analytic system in several
ways that do not require normative responses.
In sum, although the research on heuristics has been important in making people aware of
the non-rational processing in much of human decision-making, the conclusion that it
demonstrates a general superiority of analytical over intuitive processing is unwarranted.
Demystifying intuition 39
An Overview of the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Two Systems
As the advantages and disadvantages of the two systems were previously discussed in
the section on CEST it will only be necessary here to briefly review the information that was
presented. Among the advantages of the rational/analytic system it is the source of humankind,s
remarkable accomplishments that far surpass those of any other species, it allows people to think
at high and complex levels of abstraction, to delay gratification for long periods, and to plan for
the future. As a result of the rational/analytic system’s use of oral and written grammatical
language information can be rapidly shared with people all over the world. Most important, by
transmitting written information across generations, which is known as the ratchet effect, each
generation builds on the discoveries of previous generations in an unending progression of
It was found with research on the REI that a rational/analytic thinking style is associated
with a high level of intellectual performance and a variety of measures of good adjustment,
including realistic thinking, high levels of self-esteem, a positive world view, and
meaningfulness in one’s life, and with low levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. It was also
associated with conscientiousness, open-mindedness, and personal growth. On the negative side
a rational/analytic thinking is significantly, albeit weakly, associated with a dismissive
Following are the advantages of experiential/intuitive processing: As a self contained
adaptive system it is a viable adaptive system by automatically learning from experience. It can
solve problems with a level of intelligence probably slightly more advanced than that of a
chimpanzee. It can direct everyday behavior automatically and efficiently with minimal
cognitive effort. In addition, an experiential/thinking style is associated with favorable
interpersonal relationships, social popularity, agreeableness, empathy, spontaneity, emotional
Demystifying intuition 40
expressiveness, a good sense of esthetics, a good sense of humor, creativity, open-mindedness,
and personal growth. On the negative side, although the experiential/intuitive system could, by
itself, sustain life, it would do so in a manner that would fall far short of providing normal
human behavior. Also, an experiential/intuitive thinking style, if uncorrected by the
rational/analytic system, tends to be associated with naïve optimism, Polyannaish thinking,
stereotyped thinking, unusual and unrealistic beliefs, and superstitious beliefs.
Now, considering the above information, which system would you choose if you could
choose only one? Not an easy decision for how does one weigh intelligence against empathy,
adjustment against creativity, self-esteem against secure relationships? Fortunately, there is no
need to choose between the two styles of thinking. As they are independent, you can be high on
both, low on both, or high on one and low on the other. The best resolution, of course, is to
cultivate the best features of both.
Summary and Conclusions
By anchoring intuition within the framework of a global theory of personality referred to
as “cognitive-experiential self-theory” (CEST), it was demonstrated that eight controversial
issues concerning intuition could be coherently resolved. In doing so, CEST was able to
demystify intuition by noting that it is nothing more and something less than the experiential
system of CEST. This is so because although both systems operate in an identical manner the
range of content in the experiential/intuitive system is narrower. Their operating system is an
associative learning system that humans share with other animals that operates in a manner that
is associative, intimately associated with affect, automatic, and nonverbal among its other rules
of operation and processing attributes. Its operation is the source of the intuition that is acquired
by automatically learning from experience outside of awareness. Another source of intuition,
Demystifying intuition 41
referred to as pre-adaptation, uses the same principles and attributes of associatively learning
from experience to arrive at impressions unrelated to past experience.
Humans also process information with a verbal reasoning system, referred to in CEST as
the rational/analytic system. Both systems are adaptive, but in different ways, and neither system
is generally superior to the other as each has unique strengths and limitations.
Demystifying intuition 42
Abernathy, C. M., & Hamm, R. M. (1995). Surgical intuition: What it is and how to get
it. Philadelphia: Hanley & Belfus.
Agor, W. A. (1989). Intuition in organizations: Leading and managing productivity.
Newbury Park: CA: Sage.
Anderson, (in press). Neural re-use as a fundamental organizational principle of the brain.
Behavioral and Brain Science.
Barnard, C. I. (1938). The functions of the executive. Cambridge, MA: Harvard
Bastick, T. (1982). Intuition: How we think and act. New York: Wiley.
Betsch, T. (2008). The nature of intuition and its neglect in research on judgment and
decision-making. In Plessner, C. Betsch, & T. Betsch (Eds.). Intuition in judgment and decision-
making. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Bruner, J. (1961). The process of education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Brunswik, E. (1956). Perception and the representative design of psychological
experiments (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Calaprice, A. (1996). The quotable Einstein. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University
Chaiken, S. (1980). Heuristic versus systematic information processing and the use of
source versus message cues in persuasion. (1980). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
Chase, W. G., & Simon, H. A. (1973). Perception in chess. Cognitive Psychology, 4, 55-
Demystifying intuition 43
Chen, S., & Chaiken, S. (1999). The heuristic-systematic model in its broader context.
In S. Chaiken & Y. Trobe (Eds.), Dual-process theories in social psychology (pp. 73-96), New
York: Guilford Press.
Damasio, A. R. (1994). Descartes error: Emotion, reason, and the human brain. New
Darwin, C. (1859/1936). Origin of species. New York: Modern Library.
Darwin, C. (1872/1955). The expression of the emotions in man and animals. New York:
deGroot, A. D., Gobet, F., Jongman, R. W. (1996). Perception and memory: Studies in
the heuristics of the professional eye. Assen, Netherlands: Van Gorcum & Co. B.V.
Denes-Raj, V., & Epstein, S. (1994). Conflict between experiential and rational
processing: When people behave against their better judgment. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 66, 819-829.
Denes-Raj, V., Epstein, S., & Cole, J. (1995). The generality of the ratio-bias
phenomenon. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 10, 1083-1092.
Dijksterhuis, A. (2004). Think different: The merits of unconscious thought in
preference development and decision-making. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87,
Dollard, J., & Miller, N. E. (1950). Personality and psychotherapy. New York: McGraw-
Donovan, S., & Epstein, S. (1997). The difficulty of the Linda conjunction problem can
be attributed to its simultaneous concrete and unnatural representation, and not to conversational
implicature. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 33, 1-20.
Demystifying intuition 44
Epstein, S. (1973). The self-concept revisited or a theory of a theory. American
Psychologist, 28, 404-416.
Epstein, S. (1992a). Coping ability, negative self-evaluation, and overgeneralization:
Experiment and Theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 826-836.
Epstein, S. (1992b). Constructive thinking and mental and physical wellbeing. In L.
Montada, S. H. Filipp, & M. J. Lerner (Eds.), Life crises and experiences of loss in adulthood
(pp. 385-409). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Epstein, S. (1994). Integration of the cognitive and the psychodynamic unconscious.
American Psychologist, 49, 709-724.
Epstein, S. (1998). Constructive thinking: The key to emotional intelligence. Westport,
CT: Greenwood Publishing.
Epstein, S. (1999). The interpretation of dreams from the perspective of cognitive-
experiential self-theory. In J. A. Singer, & P. Salovey (Eds.). At play in the fields of
consciousness: Essays in honor of Jerome L. Singer (pp. 59-82). Mahway, NJ: Erlbaum.
Epstein, S. (2001). Manual for the Constructive Thinking Inventory. Odessa, FL:
Psychological Assessment Resources.
Epstein, S. (2003). Cognitive-experiential self-theory of personality. In T. Millon & M.
J. Lerner (Eds.), Comprehensive handbook of psychology Vol. 5 (pp. 159-184), Personality and
social psychology. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Epstein, S., Denes-Raj, V., & Pacini, R. (1995). The Linda problem revisited from the
perspective of cognitive-experiential self-theory. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,
Demystifying intuition 45
Epstein, S., Donovan, S., & Denes-Raj, V. (1999). The missing link in the paradox of
the Linda conjunction problem: Beyond knowing and thinking of the conjunction rule, the
intrinsic appeal of heuristic processing. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25, 204-214.
Epstein, S., & Katz, L. (1992). Coping ability, stress, productive load, and symptoms.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 813-825.
Epstein, S., Lipson, A., Holstein, C., & Huh, E. (1992). Irrational reactions to negative
outcomes: Evidence for two conceptual systems. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
Epstein, S., & Meier, P. (1989). Constructive thinking: A broad coping variable with
specific components. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 332-349.
Epstein, S., & Morling, B. (1995). Is the self motivated to do more than enhance and
verify itself? In M. H. Kernis (Ed.), Efficacy, agency, and self-esteem. (pp. 9-29). New York:
Epstein, S., & Pacini, R. (1999). Some basic issues regarding dual-process theories from
the perspective of cognitive-experiential self-theory. In S. Chaiken & Y. Trope (Eds.), Dual-
process theories in social psychology (pp. 462-482). NY: Guilford.
Epstein, S., Pacini, R., Denes-Raj, V., & Heier, H. (1996). Individual differences in
intuitive-experiential and analytical-rational thinking styles. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 71, 390-405.
Epstein, S., & Yanko, J. (1999). Compromises between experiential and rational
processing as a function of age-level and interference by giving reasons. (Unpublished raw
Evans, E. P. (1987). The criminal prosecution and capital punishment of animals.
London: Faber & Faber.
Demystifying intuition 46
Gallistel, C. R. (1989). Animal cognition: The representation of space, time, and
number. Annual Review of Psychology, 40, 155-189.
Gallistel, C. R., & Gelman, R. (1992). Preverbal and verbal counting and computation.
Cognition, 44, 43-74.
Gigerenzer, G., Todd, P. M., & ABC Research Group (1999). Simple heuristics that make
us smart. New York: Oxford University Press.
Hammond, K. (1996). Human judgment and social policy: Incredible uncertainty,
inevitable error, unavoidable justice. NY: Oxford University Press.
Hammond, K., Hamm, R. M., Grassia, J., & Pearson, T. (1987). Direct comparison of
the efficacy of intuitive and analytical cognition in expert judgment. IEEE Transactions on
Systems, Man and Cybernetics, 17, 753-770.
Hasher, L., & Zacks, R. T., (1984). Automatic processing of fundamental information:
The case of frequency of occurrence. American Psychologist, 39, 1372-1388.
Hayashi, A. M. (2001). When to trust your gut. Harvard Business Review, 79, 59-65.
Hogarth, R. M. (2001). Educating intuition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Hollis, K. L. (1997). Contemporary research on Pavlovian conditioning. American
Psychologist, 52, 956-965.
Hull, C. L. (1943). Principles of behavior. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Johnson-Laird, P. N. (1983). Mental models. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Kahneman, D. (2003). A perspective on judgment and choice. Mapping bounded
rationality. American Psychologist, 58, 697-720.
Kahneman, D. , Slovic, P., & Tversky, A. (1982). Judgment under uncertainty.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Demystifying intuition 47
Katz, L., & Epstein, S. (1991). Constructive thinking and coping with laboratory-
induced stress. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 789-800.
Kirkpatrick, L. A., & Epstein, S. (1992). Cognitive-experiential self-theory and
subjective probability: Further evidence for two conceptual systems. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 63, 534-544.
Klein, G. (1998). Sources of Power: How people make decisions. Cambridge, MA: MIT
Kruglansky, A. W., Thompson, E. P., & Spiegel, S. (1999). Separate or equal? Bimodal
notions of persuasion and a single-process “uni-modal.” In S. Chaiken & E. Trope (Eds.), Dual-
process theories in social psychology. New York: Guilford Press.
Langer, E. J. (1989). Mindfulness. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Mayr, E. (1960). The emergence of evolutionary novelties. In S. Tax (Ed.), Evolution
after Darwin: Vol. 1. The evolution of life (pp. 349-380). Chicago: University of Chicago Press
McKeon, R. A. (1947). Introduction to Aristotle. New York: Modern Library.
Merriam, C., & Merriam, G. (1966). Webster’s third new international dictionary.
Springfield, MA: G. & C. Merriam Co.
Morling, B., & Epstein, S. (1997). Compromises produced by the dialectic between self-
verification and self-enhancement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 1268-
Myers, D. G. (2002). Intuition, its powers and perils. New Haven, CT: Yale University
Nisbett, R. (1993). Rules of reasoning. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Nisbett, R., & Ross, L. (1980). Human inference: strategies and shortcoming of social
judgment. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Demystifying intuition 48
Norris, P., & Epstein, S. (in press). An experiential thinking style: Its facets and relations
with objective and subjective criterion-measures. Journal of Personality.
Pacini, R., & Epstein, S. (1999a). The interaction of three facets of concrete thinking in a
game of chance. Thinking and Reasoning, 5, 303-325.
Pacini, R., & Epstein, S. (1999b). The relation of rational and experiential information
processing styles to personality, basic beliefs, and the ratio-bias phenomenon. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 972-987.
Pacini, R, Muir, F., & Epstein, S. (1998). Depressive realism from the perspective of
cognitive-experiential self-theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1056-1068.
Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). Comunication and persuasion: Central and
peripheral routes to attitude change. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Petty, R. E., & Wegener, D. T. (1999). The elaboration-likelihood model: Current status
and controversies. In S. Chaiken & Y. Trope (Eds.), Dual-process theories in social psychology
(pp. 41-72), New York: Guilford Press.
Reber, A. S. (1993). Implicit learning and tacit knowledge: An essay on the cognitive
unconscious. NY: Oxford University Press.
Rescorla, R. A. (1988). Pavlovian conditioning: It’s not what you think it is. American
Psychologist, 43, 151-160.
Rozin, P. (2007). Exploring the landscape of modern academic psychology: Finding and
filling in the holes. American Psychologist, 62, 754-766.
Scheuer, E., & Epstein, S. (1997). Coping ability, reactions to a laboratory stressor, and
symptoms in everyday life. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 10, 269-303.
Demystifying intuition 49
Schwartz, N. (1990). Feelings as information: Informational and motivational
functions of affective states. In E. Tory Higgins & Richard M. Sorrentino (Eds.), Handbook of
motivation and cognition: Foundations of social behavior, vol. 2, (pp. 527-651). New York:
Shapiro, S., & Spence, M. T. (1997). Managerial intuition: A conceptual and operational
framework. Business Horizons, 40, 63-68.
Shermer, M. (1997). Why people believe weird things. New York: MJF Books.
Simon, H. A. (1979). Rational decision making in business organizations. American
Economic Review, 69, p. 501
Simon, H. A. (1992). What is an “explanation” of behavior: Psychological Science, 3,
Sloman, S. A. (1996). The empirical case for two systems of reasoning. Psychological
Bulletin, 119, 3-22.
Slovic, P., Finucane, M., Peters, E., & MacGregor, D. G. (2002). The affect heuristic. In
T. Gilovich, D. Griffin, & D. Kahneman (Eds.). Heuristics and biases (pp. 397-420). New York:
Cambridge University Press.
Smith, E. R., & DeCoster, J. (2000). Dual-process models in social and cognitive
psychology: Conceptual integration and links to underlying memory systems. Personality and
Social Psychology Review, 4, 108-131.
Stanovich & West (2000). Individual differences in reasoning: Implications for the
rationality debate. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 23, 645-665.
Strack, F., & Deutch, R. (2004). Reflective and impulsive determinants of social
behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 8, 220-247.
Vaughan, F. E. (1979). Awakening intuition. New York: Anchor/Doubleday.
Demystifying intuition 50 Download full-text
Westcott, M. R., & Ranzoni, J. H. (1963). Correlates of intuitive thinking.
Psychological Reports, 12, 595-613.
Wilson, T. D., Dunn, D. S., Kraft, D., & Lisle, D. J. (1989). Introspection, attitude
change, and attitude-behavior consistency: The disruptive effects of explaining why we feel the
way we do. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology. Vol. 22. San
Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Wilson, T. D., Lisle, D. J., Schooler, J. W., Hodges, S. D., Klaaren, D. J., & LaFleur, S. J.
(1993). Introspecting about reasons can reduce post-choice satisfaction. Personality and Social
Psychology Bulletin, 19, 331-339.
Wilson, T. D., & Schooler, J. W. (1991). Thinking too much: Introspection can reduce
the quality of preferences and decisions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 181-