Belief in One's Intuition May Not Track Performance

New research finds that a person’s belief in their intuitive skills does not appear to match their performance in tasks that require intuition.

Psychologists at the University of Kent found that the extent to which people feel confident about, and endorse, their intuitions may often not provide an indication of how good their intuitions actually are.

Researchers Dr. Mario Weick and Stefan Leach, of the university’s School of Psychology, asked 400 people from the U.K. and U.S. to complete a questionnaire to find out how much of an intuitive person they were.

They then required the study participants to perform a series of tasks that involved learning new and complex associations between letters and images.

The associations followed certain patterns and the task was designed in a way that encouraged learning of the underlying rules without people realizing this was happening.

Investigators found that people who described themselves as intuitive did not perform better and had no superior grasp of the rules than people who did not think of themselves as intuitive.

The researchers also asked participants more specifically about the task they performed and how confident they were that their intuitions were accurate.

They found that this task-specific measure was weakly related to performance.

In fact, they found that in 90 percent of the cases, someone with high levels of confidence in his or her intuition would have not performed any better than someone with low levels of confidence.

The paper appears in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Source: University of Kent/EurekAlert