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.
“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 Kahneman – World 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:
- Delay intuition.
- 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.
Dan, ever since your article “IN REALITY MR. SPOCK COULDN’T MAKE THE SIMPLEST DECISION”, I’ve been fascinated with this topic of expert intuition. Once explained, it makes so much obvious sense, but it takes a bit of insight to realize how it works. I have shared this concept with lots of people since hearing about it in your blog. It’s fun to see/hear the little switch flipping in the minds of others when they begin to understand. If I’m talking to someone who is more senior in their career, I encourage them to be open to that intuition because it’s based on hard-won pattern recognition. If it’s someone newer in their career, I caution them to tread slowly and keep gathering data points before trusting their gut.
Thanks Christopher. Yes, your experience aligns with mine. Once you learn about this it opens your mind to the dangers and advantages of intuition.
I find this area humbling. It’s so easy to think I’m right and be completely wrong.
To develop “expert intuition” surround your self with knowledge, read everything you can even beyond your own niche, talk to others about their stories, how they got to where they are at and what they did (pattern recognition as mentioned above will start to develop). Immerse your brain with ideas with thoughts, with successes of others, with failures of others. Then experience the challenges, ride thru them, live them even thru failure. Once you do this your brain will start telling your gut what seems right to do (and you will not always be successful on the first go around) then go with it in confidence. People have asked me how did you know to go that direction or choose that pathway on the challenge. Often I say it just feels like the right thing to do (but its really my gut messaging me on the part of my brain and yes I do see patterns from all this). Stories abound of people in the past say farmers knowing when to plant, what to plant and how to prepare. How do they do this, experience, intake of knowledge, remembrance of past experiences (yes pattern recognition) but in reality its always a collection of data both read about, experienced and heard from others. We humans have a unique experience, a unique talent and our creator has made us this way for survival, we just take those skills into the challenges of life we face.
This is very true…its so bad when u term yourself rightious when you are not.Am so much humbled
If we allow our feelings to interfere we may make mistakes. when we go with out gut instincts often times we are doing this based on previous experiences with similar circumstances and results. Make your best educated assessment and work your magic.
I agree with the assessment of Kahneman’s work. I put his prospect theory into practice on a regular basis as I help people make big decisions about their careers (I’m an executive recruiter).
Kahneman’s work is outstanding. His book on Thinking is solid and I am guessing that he has since published other works on it. MORE people need to get connected with it. I have many of his quotes anchored in my posters.
Great post with a number of nuggets to gleam. Intuition and feelings are not the same. Feeling are an emotional response. I never understood that intuition is not something that some people just have and others don’t. From today’s post I understand this subject much better. Intuition comes from experiences both good and bad. The other point was on a confident person is comfortable with using intuition because they have the experiences to support the decision. I think what unconfident people call intuition is really an emotional response not one based off of experience. Kind of deep for a Monday but my vacation time starts tomorrow so I will ask that everyone have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
Early on, I thought that there was something mysterious or esoteric about developing intuition, or at least what most people call intuition. I learned better, and now I think what most successful people regard as “expert intuition” is really the output of an effective knowledge- and experienced-based decision-making process that has becomes a habitual -perhaps almost subconscious- process for evaluating challenges, opportunities and situations. Nothing psychic or “supernatural” involved.
Experience can be a good teacher of intuition.
I think intuition is a good guide as to where to look, but not how to act. Our intuition is our individual experience at play, and it can tell us where to start digging. But it lacks collective wisdom, and the specificity of the data needed to make a decision for that precise moment and situation.
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