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Measuring Intuition: Unconscious Emotional Information Boost Decision-Making Accuracy and Confidence

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Abstract and Figures

The long-held popular notion of intuition, despite lacking strong scientific support has garnered much attention both academically and conversationally. While most agreed on intuition involving emotionally charged, rapid, unconscious processes, little compelling evidence exists in its support. Here, we employ a novel empirical paradigm and diffusion decision models to show that unconscious emotional information can boost accuracy in an emotion-free decision task, with stronger effects for more difficult decisions. Participants decided the direction of random dot motion stimuli presented concurrently with emotional images that were suppressed from awareness using continuous flash suppression. The binary emotional valence of the images (positive or negative) was mostly concordant with the direction of the motion in the decision stimulus (right or left). We found that decision accuracy was significantly higher on trials where motion stimuli were paired with suppressed emotional images, compared to phase-scrambling version of those images. However, accuracy was no higher when the decisional stimulus was paired with different categories of non-emotional images. Further, unconscious emotion boosted reaction times and decision confidence. These effects improved with practice and were contingent on the specific arrangement of emotional valence and decisional outcome. A diffusion model that simultaneously accumulates unconscious emotion and conscious direction of motion provided an accurate description of subjects’ performance and confidence. These findings support the long-held notion that unconscious emotions can bias behaviour - a process of intuition.
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UNIVERSITY*OF*NEW*SOUTH*WALES,*AUSTRALIA2
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Measuring Intuition:
Unconscious Emotional Information
Boost Decision-Making Accuracy
and Confidence
Galang Lufityanto,
Christopher Donkin, & Joel Pearson
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UNIVERSITY*OF*NEW*SOUTH*WALES,*AUSTRALIA2
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