March 5, 2012
Those Who Trust Their Intuition and Emotions Can More Accurately Predict The Future
A higher trust in your intuition and emotions may result in more accurate predictions about a variety of future events says a forthcoming article in the Journal of Consumer Research.
"All great men are gifted with intuition. They know without reasoning or analysis, what they need to know."
-- Alexis Carrel
The research will also be featured in Columbia Business School's Ideas at Work in late February 2012. In the research, the researchers conducted a series of eight studies in which their participants were asked to predict various future outcomes, including presidential nominees, the box-office success of different movies, the winner of American Idol, movements of the Dow Jones Index, the winner of a college football championship game, and even the weather.
Despite the range of events and prediction horizons (in terms of when the future outcome would be determined), the results across all studies consistently revealed that people with higher trust in their feelings were more likely to correctly predict the final outcome than those with lower trust in their feelings. The researchers call this phenomenon the emotional oracle effect.
In previous studies, researchers have suggested that early childhood education should focus on building behavioral, social and emotional skills just as much as building academic skills. Freed from distraction, your intuition will step in and guide you effortlessly through life.
Across studies, the researchers used two different methods to manipulate or measure how much individuals relied on their feelings to make their predictions. In some studies, the researchers used an increasingly standard trust-in-feelings manipulatio. In other studies, the researchers simply measured how much participants typically relied on their feelings in general when making predictions.
Due to the nature of our emotions and how they emerge from our unconscious mind, from our internal supercomputer, they tend to reflect more information than our rational mind. Buying a car or getting married are just the kind of decisions that seem to benefit the most from a more emotional, intuitive thought process.
Regardless of the method used, participants who trusted their feelings in general or were induced to trust their feelings experimentally were more accurate in their predictions compared to participants with lower trust in their in their feelings and participants in a control group.
Those who trusted their feelings were 25 percent more accurate than those who trusted their feelings less.
The researchers explain their findings through a "privileged window" hypothesis. Professor Michel Pham elaborates on the hypothesis. "When we rely on our feelings, what feels 'right' or 'wrong' summarizes all the knowledge and information that we have acquired consciously and unconsciously about the world around us.
It is this cumulative knowledge, which our feelings summarize for us, that allows us make better predictions. In a sense, our feelings give us access to a privileged window of knowledge and information â€“ a window that a more analytical form of reasoning blocks us from."
In accordance with the privileged window hypothesis, the researchers caution that some amount of relevant knowledge appears to be required to more accurately forecast the future. For example, in one study participants were asked to predict the weather. While participants who trusted their feelings were again better able to predict the weather, they were only able to do so for the weather in their own zip codes, not for the weather in Beijing or Melbourne. Professor Leonard Lee explains this is because "...they don't possess a knowledge base that would help them to make those predictions." As another example, only participants who had some background knowledge about the current football season benefited from trust in feelings in predicting the winner of the national college football BCS game.
Thus, if we have a proper knowledge base, the future need not be totally indecipherable if we simply learn to trust our feelings.