Back in the 20th century, the researchers noticed a strange pattern: the most frequently occurring disasters and accidents that involved planes and trains took place when they were filled with passengers half of their capacity, while the safe trips had at least 76% of the passengers present.
This pattern could be explained by the concept of social intuition. It seems that sometimes, our lives rely on the “sixth” sense of a sort.
Social intuition and the ‘destiny’
Intuitive knowledge can actively influence a person’s life: on many occasions, your intuition can save your life. In fact, there was someone who had not booked tickets to the Titanic, despite the fact that it was advertised as “absolutely safe”. There are many examples when intuition helped people to get wealthier. An experienced entrepreneur will sometimes get a gut feeling about a hidden catch in the behavior of their potential business partners.
This is nothing short of a phenomenon called social intuition. Social intuition tells a young lady who is about to get married whether her fiancé is the one. There are a number of professions in which social intuition plays a truly crucial role. Judges sometimes intuitively render their verdicts, trusting their gut instinct about a potential criminal. Medical practitioners sometimes make a diagnosis based on their gut instinct.
Social intuition for those who work in the HR sector can also be extremely important. After all, with well-developed social instincts, they can “see” right through potential job seekers. They can detect their negative personality traits to predict their potential accomplishments and relationships with other employees in the company.
Practical experience is the basis for intuitive knowledge
Whether we are aware of it or not, we can read a person’s personality instantly, and it does not even require any exchange of words!
Thus, we receive non-verbal clues about someone’s personality traits and behaviors, such as their gestures and facial expressions. Then, we store this information in our minds and eventually, form a sort of “intuitive profile” for this person, which then prompts us to form an opinion about them. Later, this view of the person may change when the conscious analysis comes into play, but it doesn’t happen during the stage of intuitive assessment.
Did you know that there is a difference in the social intuition of men and women? American psychologist Judith Hall analyzed 125 studies and concluded that women are more efficient when it comes to decoding nonverbal cues.
When female subjects were shown a two-minute silent movie with upset women, the women in the study made more accurate guesses whether the woman in the movie was criticizing someone or discussing her own divorce.
In other experiments, the sensitivity of women to non-verbal cues has allowed them to show better results in detecting lies. Women also do better than men in recognizing whether a couple is actually loving and romantic or just pretends to be so, as well as in telling which of the two people in a photo is the boss and which one is an employee.
Social intuition lets you understand someone in 30 seconds
The findings by American psychologists Nalini Ambadi and Robert Rosenthal deal with the impact of first impressions and the role of social intuition. The so-called “thin slices” of someone’s behavior may become very useful in these studies. Ambad and Rosenthal had recorded on tape 13 graduate students at Harvard University giving lectures to undergraduates.
Then, the researchers looked at three “thin slices” of the behavior in each lecturer (ten-second videos from the beginning, middle, and end of each lecture), and evaluated their confidence, academic rigor, emotional warmth, and other qualities. These ratings based on 30 seconds of lecturing during the entire semester were strikingly accurate in predicting what average rating the lecturer would receive from students at the end of the semester.
In various experiments, “thin slices” have been studied with the help of videos (with or without sound recording) as well as observations through a window with one-way visibility. Just by listening to the participants reciting the alphabet out loud, the observers were able to make a fairly accurate intuitive guess about their social status and personality.
After watching the way people walk and talk for 90 seconds, observers could evaluate how others would assess these individuals. It was also found that even just by looking at someone’s picture, we can make some conclusions about their personality traits.
Social intuition and detecting lies
One of the most important benefits of social intuition is the ability to subconsciously pick up insincerity and dishonesty.
Important observational data transform into an intuitive experience, which is then analyzed for each situation. If you lie, for example, you become tense, and your facial expressions do not match your words as well as your responses to other individuals’ words in the conversation.
While our logical minds analyze what is being said, our subconscious mind absorbs what we saw, indicating possible inconsistencies and dangers. Therefore, people with well-developed social intuition quickly recognize scammers, potentially aggressive, and manipulative individuals.
Psychologist Paul Ekman, a professor at the University of California in San Francisco, the author of the bestseller “Telling Lies”, and the leading world specialist in identifying liars, has conducted a series of tests about the extent of one’s ability to recognize lies. He came to the conclusion that in 86% of cases of telling lies, the tone or the voice volume will change.
Ekman also found that among several groups of people who frequently test a lot of people on the matter of lying (students, mental health professionals, lie detector experts, judges, police workers), only one group, the U.S. intelligence agents, can identify the lies really effectively (64%).
However, to develop this skill, you need to work on your ability to observe things and paying attention to emotions (both your own and the person you are communicating with) before they are processed by your logical mind.
We all have another interesting trait
When we hear how one person tells bad or good things about another person, we attribute the same qualities to the person who is talking. During several experiments, psychologists Linda May, Donal Carlston, and John Skowronski found that if someone spreads rumors about someone, listeners unconsciously associate the content of these rumors with the storyteller.
Call someone a fool or a jerk, and people may relate these qualities with you later. Describe someone as fine and compassionate person, and you will also acquire these qualities. Even those who “simply” bring bad news will be instinctively disliked, as well as strangers who talk unfavorably about someone they do not like.
Have you ever made any important decisions based on your social intuition? We would love to hear about your experiences.
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