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Use Intuition to Select the Perfect Gift

By Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on December 21, 2012

Use Intuition to Select the Perfect GiftFor some, it is not so much procrastination but ambivalence that delays the purchase of that special gift for family and close friends.

New research suggests the way to eliminate this roadblock or barrier is to “trust your gut” and go with intuition.

For decades, experts have touted a quantitative, analytical process as being superior to a subjective, or intuitive means for decision-making. New research is swinging the pendulum back to the center recognizing that each approach has value for different situations.

Boston College’s Michael G. Pratt, Ph.D., an expert in organizational psychology, says new research shows intuition can help people make fast and effective decisions, particularly in areas where they have expertise in the subject at hand.

When it comes to holiday shopping, it might help to draw on the expertise you’ve accumulated about your family, and friends.

“We often ask ourselves, ‘What does that special someone want for Christmas?’ Maybe the better question to ask is ‘What do I know about this person?” said Pratt, a professor in the Carroll School of Management.

“The chances are you know a lot. You know a lot about your parents and your children, and your close friends. What we’ve found is that kind of deep expertise helps to support decisions we make when we trust our gut.”

In the new study, Pratt and his fellow researchers examined how well-served we are when we make decisions intuitively or through a more analytical approach, said Pratt.

Pratt has recently co-authored a new report about intuitive decision-making in the Journal of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

The researchers said the knock on intuition stems from earlier studies that examined intuition in the context of very structured, multi-step decisions in areas such as math or logic.

Analytic decisions are great for breaking things down into smaller parts, which is necessary for a math problem. But intuition is about looking at patterns and wholes, which is needed when making quick decisions about whether something is real or fake, ugly or pretty, right or wrong.

“Similarly, for gift buying, there is not ‘one right answer’ as with a math problem,” says Pratt, “It is a judgment call.”

Pratt, along with researchers Erik Dane, Ph.D., of Rice University and Kevin W. Rockmann, Ph.D., of George Mason University conducted two experiments to test both methods as a means of making a basic decision, or one that doesn’t break down into a subset of smaller tasks.

In each experiment, one set of respondents was asked to think intuitively in a short amount of time. A second set was asked to take more time and use an analytical approach.

For example, in one experiment, men and women were asked to decide whether a designer handbag was “real” or “fake.” Among subjects who had owned several brand-name satchels, intuitive respondents were able to make quick and effective judgments about the items.

“If you’re looking at those shiny new winter shovels for your spouse, ask yourself, ‘Is this right or wrong?’ and trust your gut. You’ll be well served by your intuition,” said Pratt.

“It’s likely that your spouse doesn’t want a shovel and you don’t want to be the one who gives that gift.”

Source: Boston College

Woman holding a Christmas present photo by shutterstock.

 

APA Reference
Nauert, R. (2012). Use Intuition to Select the Perfect Gift. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/12/21/use-intuition-to-select-the-perfect-gift/49516.html

 

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