We're all on the journey.

"Intuitive Feeling" or Unconscious Bias; When Should We Believe Our Gut Feelings?

Our unconscious bias workshops often generate questions from leaders about whether unconscious thinking is the same as intuition or gut feeling, and if so, are we sacrificing intuition in our efforts to minimize unconscious bias?

A well-documented tendency of humans is to overemphasize their intuitions and to follow them, even when they shouldn't. In judgments and decisions, "intuition bias" leads to several types of specific biases. There is evidence that characteristics of the decision process "leak" into the choice outcome experience. We investigate whether intuitive choices influence choice outcomes differently than analytical, "non-intuitive," choices. Considering that intuition is a feeling-based process, we examine in particular if intuitive choices have stronger effects on an individual than non-intuitive choices.

Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge, without recourse to conscious reasoning. Different fields use the word "intuition" in very different ways, including but not limited to: direct access to unconscious knowledge; unconscious cognition; gut feelings; inner sensing; inner insight to unconscious pattern recognition; and the ability to understand something instinctively, without any need for conscious reasoning.

Therefore, Intuitive knowledge tends to be approximate.

When it comes to emotional self-regulation, what role does intuition play, and how can subjective biases affect it?


Intuition can play a significantly empowering role in emotional self-regulation by helping individuals quickly and automatically identify their emotional states and respond to them in an adaptive way. Here are a few ways in which intuition can contribute to emotional self-regulation:


  1. Identifying emotions: Intuition can help individuals quickly and accurately identify their emotional states without the need for conscious thought. By becoming more aware of their emotional states, individuals can better regulate their emotions and respond to them in a more adaptive way.
  2. Non-verbal cues: Intuition can also help individuals pick up on non-verbal cues that signal emotional states, such as changes in facial expressions, tone of voice, or body language. By being attuned to these cues, individuals can better regulate their emotions and respond appropriately to others.
  3. Intuitive responses: In some cases, intuitive responses to emotional situations may be more effective than deliberate, analytical responses. For example, if someone is in danger, an intuitive response of fear and the associated physiological response (such as the fight or flight response) can be adaptive and help the individual take action to protect themselves.
  4. Creativity and problem-solving: Intuition can also play a role in creative problem-solving and decision-making. By tapping into their intuition, individuals may be able to access novel solutions to emotional challenges and respond in a more adaptive way.

Overall, intuition can play an important role in emotional self-regulation by helping individuals quickly identify their emotional states, pick up on non-verbal cues, respond adaptively to emotional situations, and tap into their creativity and problem-solving abilities.

However, it's important to note that intuition can also be subject to biases and inaccuracies, so it's important to approach emotional self-regulation with a balance of intuition and deliberate, analytical thinking.

Nevertheless, what we frequently attribute to intuition; can also arise, and register as a form of confirmation bias.

Intuition is a mental process that involves arriving at a conclusion or decision without conscious reasoning.

While intuition can be a valuable tool in certain situations, it can also be subject to confirmation bias, which is the tendency to interpret information in a way that supports our pre-existing beliefs or expectations. Here's how intuition can act as a form of confirmation bias:


  1. Selective attention: Intuition can lead us to focus on certain pieces of information while ignoring others. This can be influenced by our pre-existing beliefs and expectations, leading us to pay attention only to information that confirms our intuition while ignoring, or discounting evidence that contradicts it.
  2. Cognitive dissonance: Intuition can also lead us to experience cognitive dissonance, which is the discomfort that arises when our beliefs or expectations are challenged by new information. In response, we may ignore or rationalize evidence that contradicts our intuition, leading us to reinforce our pre-existing beliefs or expectations.
  3. Confirmation-seeking behavior: Intuition can also lead us to engage in confirmation-seeking behavior, such as seeking out information or opinions that support our intuition while avoiding information or opinions that challenge it. This can reinforce our pre-existing beliefs or expectations and prevent us from considering alternative perspectives.

Overall, intuition can act as a form of confirmation bias by leading us to selectively attend to information, experience cognitive dissonance when our beliefs or expectations are challenged, and engage in confirmation-seeking behavior.

To overcome these biases, it can be helpful to approach situations with an open mind, consider alternative perspectives, and actively seek out evidence that challenges our pre-existing beliefs or expectations.