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It's best to rely on your gut feeling, say psychologists

Last updated: 30 December, 2011
London, Dec 30, (Agencies): 17:54 IST
We tend to make decisions based on our gut feeling rather than logic and some psychologists have found a proposition where logic is rooted in intuition, reveals a study.

Wim De Neys, psychological scientist at the University of Toulouse in France, offers a new suggestion where logic is deep in our instincts. Psychologists have partly based their conclusions about reasoning and decision-making on questions like this: Bill is 34. He is intelligent, punctual but unimaginative and somewhat lifeless. In school, he was good in maths but weak in social studies and humanities.

Which one of the following statements is most likely; (a) Bill plays in a rock band for a hobby. (b) Bill is an accountant and plays in a rock band for a hobby. Most people will let their stereotypes about accountants rule and pick (b). But, in fact, we have no idea what Bill does for a living — he could be a politician, a concert pianist, or a drug dealer — it is likely that only one random possibility: the rock band is true, and both (a) and (b) would happen to be true.

This line of research has suggested that people do not use logic when making decisions about the world. But the truth is more complicated, said De Neys, the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science reported.

When most people read a question like the one above, there’s a sense that something isn’t right.

“That feeling you have, that there’s something fishy about the problem — we have a wide range of ways to measure that conflict,” said De Neys, according to a university statement.

De Neys thinks this sense that something isn’t quite right with the decision you’re making, comes from an intuitive sense of logic. Other scientists have found that children start thinking logically very early.

In one study, eight-month-old babies were surprised if someone pulled mostly red balls out of a box that contained mostly white balls, this is a proof that babies have an innate sense of probability before they start talking.

It makes sense, that this intuitive sense of logic would stick around in adults, said De Neys.

This research deals with the basics of how we think and it may help explain more complex decision-making, he added.

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