Our gut feelings can cut both ways - good or bad

January 5th, 2011 - 5:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 5 (IANS) Believe it or not — our ‘gut feelings’ or intuition can cut both ways, good or bad. Its trustworthiness is influenced by what is happening physically in our bodies, the journal Psychological Science reports.

“We often talk about intuition coming from the body — following our gut instincts and trusting our hearts,” said Barnaby D. Dunn of the Medical Research Council Cognition in the UK, who led the study.

What isn’t certain is whether we should follow, or be suspicious of, what our bodies tell us, according to a statement of the Association for Psychological Science in the US.

To investigate how different bodily reactions can influence decision-making, Dunn and his co-authors asked participants to try to learn how to win at a card game they had never played before.

The game was designed so that there was no obvious strategy to follow and instead players had to follow their hunches.

Most players gradually found a way to win at the card game and they reported having relied on intuition rather than reason.

Subtle changes in the players’ heart rates and sweat responses affected how quickly they learned to make the best choices during the game.

Some people’s gut feelings were spot on, meaning they mastered the card game quickly. Other people’s bodies told them exactly the wrong moves to make, so they learned slowly or never found a way to win.

Dunn and his co-authors found this link between gut feelings and intuitive decision- making to be stronger in people who were more aware of their own heartbeat.

So for some individuals being able to ‘listen to their heart’ helped them make wise choices, whereas for others it led to costly mistakes.

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Posted in Sci-Tech |