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The Science Of Intuition: What Is The "sixth Sense" From The Point Of View Of Psychology - Research, Self-development
The Science Of Intuition: What Is The "sixth Sense" From The Point Of View Of Psychology - Research, Self-development

Video: The Science Of Intuition: What Is The "sixth Sense" From The Point Of View Of Psychology - Research, Self-development

Video: The Science Of Intuition: What Is The "sixth Sense" From The Point Of View Of Psychology - Research, Self-development
Video: Your Sixth Sense 2023, June

Premonition, sixth sense - concepts familiar to everyone. Someone considers intuition a mystical ability, someone - a way of communicating with higher powers, and someone is sure that this is just a skill that can be developed with special exercises. What does modern science say about intuition?

A large psychological dictionary defines intuition as a way to quickly, often instantaneously solve a problem on the basis of data that is insufficient for logical analysis 1. In other words, we say that we made a decision “intuitively” when we cannot or do not have time to understand how we arrived at it.

Researchers consider intuition in two dimensions: as a method for making decisions and as a way of understanding reality 2. In the first case, we are talking about situations in which a person needs to choose one of the possible options for action, for example, to issue an acquittal or guilty verdict in a jury.

The second aspect involves forming an opinion about someone or something based on an “inner feeling” - for example, the perception of a new acquaintance as “good” or “evil”, “honest” or “rogue,” etc.

Scientific approaches

Modern attempts to explain the phenomenon of intuition are divided into three main approaches:

1. Intuition as a result of "hidden" learning

From this point of view, intuition is a manifestation of implicit, i.e. implicit, unconscious learning 3. Thus, decisions made on the basis of the “sixth sense” are based on the knowledge we have received from a variety of sources - read somewhere, once experienced on ourselves, etc.

Such information can be partially forgotten or present such a fragmented picture that the conclusion drawn from it seems illogical or even irrational. This theory is supported by the fact that when certain subcortical structures are disturbed, a person loses the ability to both “implicit” learning and to make decisions based on “intuitive” judgments.

2. Intuition as an associative perception

A number of researchers consider intuition to be a kind of “alloy” of judgments, knowledge and emotional reactions, arising according to the principle of associative connections 4.

In other words, "intuitive" perception is a chain of associations in which only the first and last links are realized, and the main part is "hidden" in the unconscious part of the psyche. This is why “intuitive” beliefs appear to arise “by themselves” without explicit justification.

From the point of view of neuropsychology, this function is closely related to the work of the tertiary zones of the cerebral cortex located in the prefrontal and posterior temporal regions of the cerebral hemispheres.

3. Intuition as a justification of beliefs

This approach, called by the author " phenomenological dogmatism ", is that intuition is a way to justify one's own judgments, including "adjusting" reality to the stated assumptions 5. Thus, the probability of an event, which a person “intuitively” defines as the most possible, really increases precisely because this person will perform actions and deeds that bring this scenario closer.

The "sixth sense" in this concept is understood as a kind of faith, that is, the acceptance of a particular point of view without the requirement of proof, which makes the phenomenon of intuition really exist for those who believe in it.

Cognitive errors

Often, a person's belief that they have "well developed intuition" is the result of common perception distortions - cognitive errors. In this case, his assessment of the success of his own decisions can be formed according to one of the typical scenarios, for example:

  • retrospective distortion 6 - the tendency to perceive events that have already happened as "predicted in advance": for example, in a situation when a newly-made son-in-law committed a mean act, his father-in-law exclaims: “I knew it! This guy seemed suspicious to me at first sight!”;
  • selective perception 7 - bias towards observed facts and phenomena, in which only information that corresponds to the assumptions put forward is marked as significant: for example, if the juror is “intuitively” convinced of the guilt of the defendant, he will carefully memorize the evidence testifying to the commission of a crime, and ignore the evidence presented in his defense;
  • confirmation bias 8 - the search for one-sided information confirming a point of view already formed by a person: for example, if a patient does not like the clinic at first glance, he seeks confirmation of his suspicions, purposefully collecting negative reviews about the institution on the Internet.

So what is intuition really and can it be developed?

From the point of view of science, this concept is a kind of "screen" behind which a whole series of poorly understood cognitive processes are hidden: from the formation of associative rows to errors in the perception of information

It turns out that various courses of "intuition development", positioning this phenomenon as a kind of integral ability, mislead potential customers. Enticing advertising focuses only on the positive effects of intuitive perception - for example, the speed of decision-making - however, it is silent about the inevitability of negative consequences - for example, "adjusting" events to "presentiment".

A much more productive way of self-development is the purposeful training of various cognitive techniques and skills:

  • associative thinking,
  • mnemonics,
  • reflection and others.

As you gradually automate, these skills will dramatically improve your ability to process information quickly and accurately. And whether to call it a mysterious "sixth sense" or simply high intelligence is a matter of your preferences.


  1. Big psychological dictionary / Ed. B. G. Meshcheryakova, V. P. Zinchenko. - M.: Prime-EVROZNAK, 2003.
  2. Dörfler V., Ackermann F. Understanding intuition: The case for two forms of intuition // Management Learning. - 2012. - V. 43. - No. 5. - P. 545-564.
  3. Lieberman MD Intuition: a social cognitive neuroscience approach // Psychological bulletin. - 2000. - V. 126. - No. 1. - P. 109-137.
  4. Dane E., Pratt MG Exploring intuition and its role in managerial decision making // Academy of management review. - 2007. - V. 32. - No. 1. - P. 33-54.
  5. Chudnoff E. The nature of intuitive justification // Philosophical Studies. - 2011. - V. 153. - No. 2. - P. 313-333.
  6. Roese NJ, Vohs KD Hindsight bias // Perspectives on psychological science. - 2012. - V. 7. - No. 5. - P. 411-426.
  7. Hernán MA, Hernández-Díaz S., Robins JM A structural approach to selection bias // Epidemiology. - 2004. - V. 15. - No. 5. - P. 615-625.
  8. Nickerson RS Confirmation bias: A ubiquitous phenomenon in many guises // Review of general psychology. - 1998. - V. 2. - No. 2. - P. 175-220.

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