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Is it rational to trust your gut feelings? A neuroscientist explains

The two thinking styles

Intuitive thinking is described as automatic, fast, and subconscious. Analytic thinking, on the other hand, is slow, logical, conscious and deliberate. Analytic and intuitive thinking are not opposites. They are complementary and can work in concert.

Even groundbreaking scientific research may start with intuitive knowledge that enables scientists to formulate innovative ideas and hypotheses, which later can be validated through rigorous testing and analysis.

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Is it rational to trust your gut feelings? A neuroscientist explains

Is it rational to trust your gut feelings? A neuroscientist explains

http://theconversation.com/is-it-rational-to-trust-your-gut-feelings-a-neuroscientist-explains-95086

theconversation.com

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Key Ideas

Intuition as a tool

Emotions and intuition are not fallible tools that always need to be ignored or even corrected by rational faculties,.

Intuition is the result of a lot of processing that happens in the brain but has not yet reached your conscious awareness. 

Predictive processing framework

Research suggests that the brain is a large predictive machine, constantly comparing incoming sensory information and current experiences against stored knowledge and memories of previous experiences, and predicting what will come next. This is described in what scientists call the “predictive processing framework”.

This ensures that the brain is always as prepared to deal with the current situation as optimally as possible.

The two thinking styles

Intuitive thinking is described as automatic, fast, and subconscious. Analytic thinking, on the other hand, is slow, logical, conscious and deliberate. Analytic and intuitive thinking are not opposites. They are complementary and can work in concert.

Even groundbreaking scientific research may start with intuitive knowledge that enables scientists to formulate innovative ideas and hypotheses, which later can be validated through rigorous testing and analysis.

Intuition and biases

Because intuition relies on automatic and fast processing, it also falls prey to misguidances, such as cognitive biases. Despite this, familiarizing yourself with common cognitive biases can help you spot them in future occasions.

For every situation that involves a decision based on your assessment, consider whether your intuition has correctly assessed the situation.

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Decisions Using Our Instinct
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Patterns In Randomness

Our gut instinct or intuition can come in many forms, like detecting patterns in places where other people only see randomness or having a sudden flash of brilliance which goes against the grain but feels right.

Gathering enough data to make a rational decision also takes up a lot of time, and in today's fast-paced world, by the time one procures all data, the decision becomes antiquated.

Subconscious And Conscious Brain

Our subconsious mind continuously processes information, even when we sleep, which our conscious mind finally learns or infers, lighting a bulb inside us.

We know the gut feeling is true because our 'right brain'(intuition and emotion-based) already knew the revelation that our left brain (logic and consciousness-based) now has come to know.

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System 1 Thinking

The main function of System 1 is to maintain and update a model of your personal world, which represents what is normal in it.

Consider driving your car from home to work on a...

System 2 Thinking

System 2 thinking informs how you focus on a particular task by using expert knowledge and focusing or applying conscious effort.

Consider driving to work and encountering an accident. This unexpected change demands you pay attention to your environment and monitor your behavior.

How to Use System 1 and System 2 Thinking Together

If you feel a gut reaction after meeting a hire, it's probably System 1 thinking.

But you can mitigate the risk of hiring the wrong person by engaging System 2 thinking. Check their references. Ask probing questions. Validate your gut reaction with other members of your team.

The trick is to be aware of switching from one system to the other. It’s useful to understand when you are thinking on autopilot, when you are paying attention and what's inside your mental toolbox.

Decision-making rules

Write a clear, objective set of rules to guide future decisions.

It will enable you to make a decision that is detached from the emotion of the moment.

Don't decide alone

Never make an onerous decision by yourself. Tap into the wisdom of the company's internal crowd.

The 'revolving door' approach

... is a technique that relies on using an outside perspective. 

If you're stuck in a big decision, you have to pretend you're a new CEO or a turnaround manager who can "see things more clearly." Adopting a third-person perspective helps you tap into an objective mode of judgment--one based on facts and an understanding of the consequences.

Creating quantitative models
Creating quantitative models

Most of the psychological theories are verbal, but words can be imprecise. If "cooperation is intuitive", it needs to state when. And what does "intuitive" mean?

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The Sims computer simulation

These models represent collections of individual people described by computer algorithms that capture a specific set of traits, such as a tendency to cooperate or not.

  • You can give them new personalities to see how they would behave.
  • You can observe social processes in action.
  • You can observe time scales, from seconds to generations.
  • You can watch the spread of certain behaviors throughout a population and you can see how certain behaviors influence other behaviors.

The patterns that emerge can tell you things about large-scale social interaction that lab experiments and real people never could.

The human instinct to cooperate

There seems to be evolutionary logic to the human ability to cooperate but adjust if necessary. To trust, but verify. 

We generally collaborate with other people because it benefits us. Our rational minds let us work out when we might occasionally gain by acting selfishly instead.

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2,000 decisions per waking hour

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Decision fatigue

Our ability to perform mental tasks and make decisions wears thin when it’s repeatedly used.

Identify the most important decisions you need to make, and, as often as possible, prioritize your time so that you make them when your energy levels are highest.

A steady state of distraction

Our brains process five times as much information today as in 1986. Thus, many of us live in a continuous state of distraction and struggle to focus. 

To counter this, find time each day to unplug and step back from email, social media and news.

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What Self-Reflection Is
What Self-Reflection Is

Is the process of thinking back on previous events and interpreting them through your experience. 

It’s about taking a step back and reflecting on your life, behavior and beliefs....

The Importance of Self-Reflection
  • It improve self-awareness.
  • It allows you to understand and see things from a different point of view. 
  • It allows you to respond, not react.
  • It facilitates a deeper level of learning.
  • It improves confidence.
  • It makes you challenge your assumptions.
The Process of Self-Reflection
  • STOP: Take a step back from life or a particular situation.
  • LOOK: Identify and get perspective on what you notice and see.
  • LISTEN: Listen to your inner guide, the innate wisdom that bubbles up when you give it time and space to emerge.
  • ACT: Identify the steps you need to take moving forward to adjust, change or improve.

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The rational manner

When faced with a difficult dilemma, we should carefully assess our options and spend a few moments consciously deliberating the information. Then, we should choose the best fit for our preferences...

The emotional system
It's only in the last few years that researchers have demonstrated that the emotional system might excel at complex decisions, or those involving lots of variables.

This would suggest that the unconscious is better suited for difficult cognitive tasks than the conscious brain, that the very thought process we've long disregarded as irrational and impulsive might actually be "smarter" than reasoned deliberation.

How emotional decision-making works

Thinking in a rational manner is more effective when there are limited pieces of information.  However, those focused on feelings prove far better in complex conditions

The advantages of emotional decision-making could be undone by a subsequent bout of deliberation, which suggests that we shouldn't doubt a particularly strong instinct, at least when considering lots of information.

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This Day Is Your Entire Life
This Day Is Your Entire Life

What we are doing today, how we master the present day and how good we are in living each day, is the key to master your weeks, months, years and your entire life.

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Today Is The Future

Most people keep planning, visualizing and imagining their future life as if they are watching some other person live it. That person is you. If you intentionally live each day, perfecting and maximising your vision of the future, instead of killing time or just living a bread and butter, day-to-day existence, you steer your life towards the direction you want.

We need to act like the person we wish to become, as we are what we do all day.

What Your Brain Needs To Thrive
  • Nutrition: We are what we eat, and having a good nutritious diet, full of green vegetables, nuts and seeds goes a long way. Avoid processed foods at any cost.
  • Oxygen: or fresh air is a primary need of the brain. Any daily exercise routine is best for brain health.
  • Information: The brain needs information to process, preferably high quality and diverse. Active learning, along with continuous mental challenges that get the cylinders firing is the way to nourish the brain and form connections. True learning reframes our entire mental model and helps the brain evolve.
  • Love: What keeps us happy and healthy is good, loving relationships, and the care and touch of loved ones.

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Reduce the stress of clutter
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Find places that inspire you

You might not be in a position to choose your workspace, but there are quick fixes: look for a spot with natural light from a window or skylight, take a walk outside when you feel stuck, or simply explore a new location. 

A new environment can quite literally lead to new ideas.

Task association

It's when your brain knows that when you’re in a certain place, you’re taking a certain action.

Take advantage of the way different locations affect you. Our brains love habits, and if we can associate certain qualities with different places, it can help us get into a better working flow. 

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Rigid Thinking

The speed of technological and cultural development is requiring us to embrace types of thinking besides the rational, logical style of analysis that tends to be emphasized in our society.

Elastic Thinking

It is the capacity to be flexible, to embrace ambiguity, contradiction, and unconventional mindsets.

It is the ability to abandon our 'marriage' to our beliefs and assumptions, opening ourselves to new paradigms.

Explore The New

Elastic thinking is the way to cutting edge innovation, future visions, science fiction gems, and other great new ideas.

Our tendency to explore and learn has always created something new in the world.

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