Whether we are taking an exam or trying to select the perfect candidate for a job, we make plenty of decisions where we sometimes have a gut feeling about the answer. Should we question that instinct or go with it?
When instant answers just appear to pop into our minds, the Nobel prize-winning behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman refers to this as "System 1" or fast thinking. This contrasts with the slower, more considered "System 2" thinking, where we actively consider our options before coming to a conclusion.
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Intuition tends to get a bad reputation as something that’s flaky and based on no evidence. A careful analysis of all the options is surely more likely to give us the right answer? Not necessarily. Our gut instincts are not always as random as they seem. They can be based on a rapid appraisal of the situation. We might not always realise it, but the brain is constantly comparing our current situation with our memories of previous situations. So when a decision feels intuitive, it might in fact be based on years of experience.