I have always regarded intuition to be an inbred gift that cannot be easily discounted. However, new research has found that gut instinct for understanding your other half is down to careful reasoning rather than popular belief. Empathy – the ability to be aware of another person’s feelings – turns out to stem from a thought process which is not intuitive.
That, in essence, is the view of scientists who maintain that the findings are important because they show that commonly held assumptions about what makes someone a good emotional mind-reader may be wrong, said Professor Jennifer Lerner who carried out the study.
‘The many settings in which the value of intuition is extolled, for example in a job interview, may need to be reassessed with a more nuanced perspective,’ she said.
Her study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that systematic reasoning appeared to beat intuition for being sensitive to emotions in others.
Professor Lerner of Harvard University said, ‘Cultivating successful personal and professional relationships requires the ability to accurately infer the feelings of others – that is, to be emphatically accurate.
‘Some are better at this than others, a difference that may be explained in part by mode of thought. Until now, however, little was known about which mode of thought offers better accuracy.’
In experiments with more than 900 people examining links between empathy, thought and intuition, most believe that intuition was a better guide to another’s feelings but found that the opposite was true.
Dealing actively with people since the age of 19 and still fully involved at work at the age of 85, I have found that my intuition has served me well all these years combined with my power of observation that I find essentially constructive.
Gut feeling is something that has always been my guiding light, without which I cannot operate with a comfortable measure of confidence.