Daniel Kahneman on Expert Intuition

The challenge of intuition is you think it’s right before it’s examined.

When you have an intuition, you don’t have other intuitions. You have confidence.

The danger of going with your gut is it feels right without reason.

Dangerous intuition:

“In general, confidence is a very poor cue to accuracy. Intuitions come to your mind with considerable confidence and there is no guarantee that they’re right. Intuitions that are completely wrong also come to mind with great confidence.” Daniel KahnemanWorld Business Forum 2018

You can always find reasons to support your decisions.

The development of expert intuitions:

When the following conditions are present, people develop expert intuition.

#1. There must be some regularity in the world.

You might feel that the numbers you picked will win the lottery, but lottery-intuition is useless.

People who pick stocks work in a volatile unpredictable world. Their intuitions are useless. The stock market is not sufficiently regular to support the development of expert intuition.

Chess players and married people have high regularity.

#2. Lots of practice.

Novices may have a feeling about a decision, but you need lots of practice before you should trust your gut. Many things that are right feel wrong to novices.

Remember that #1 above must also be true. Lots of practice in a highly volatile environment doesn’t develop expert intuition.

It’s luck when your intuitions are right and the situation is volatile.

#3. Immediate feedback.

You need to quickly see the result of decisions or actions in order to develop expert intuition. Did your decision turn out as anticipated, not months, but hours or days later?

Generally, confidence and accuracy of intuition are at best loosely related.

The danger of intuition is a premature decision.

Kahneman’s tips on intuition:

  1. Delay intuition.
  2. Be systematic about collecting data.

What suggestions do you have for developing expert intuition?

How can leaders learn to examine their intuitions?

This post is based on Daniel Kahneman’s presentation at the World Business Forum in New York City 2018.