How can we explain when a solution to a problem that puzzles us seems to have come came out of nowhere? Maybe knowing a few different types of intuition could help.
Intuition is often referred to as “readily available knowledge“, which has the property to “suddenly” appear in our heads. But we often fail to take into account the fact that we have long been preoccupied with solving this problem.
Intuition is also viewed as a method to attain philosophical knowledge, the ability to perceive information, the method of decision-making in critical situations, and the ability to successfully deal with difficult situations under uncertainty, and also as an instinct.
With such a broad definition, it is necessary to clarify that “intuition” is primarily a cognitive process.
However, it does not work the usual way when the thinking process leads to an intuitive response. This process follows different “rules”: after a long process of thinking over and over and failing to come up with an idea, we suddenly come up with the life-changing insight!
When trying to explain intuition, we must remember that we do not have enough knowledge about the workings of the human brain.
The fact is that we process only a part of the information at the conscious level. Not surprisingly, our unconscious mind contains much more information than we are able to notice.
We can confidently say that we know a lot more than we think we know! And, as philosophers like to say, “the ray of enlightenment” requires as much energy as a well-known laser beam, so prolonged pressure of thinking over and over ultimately prevents creative solutions. Switching to other types of activities and taking breaks can be very helpful.
Strictly speaking, intuition differs from other types of cognitive activities primarily by having an unconscious “incubation period”, “distraction from the problem,” which creates the illusion of surprise in the final outcome.
Different Types of Intuition
In general, there are five types of intuition:
- body or physical
- sensual or emotional
1. Body or physical intuition
In general, intuition is the ability to use “unconventional” sources of information, specifically, our own body sensations in order to solve a problem. No wonder that we use a popular phrase “trust your gut“.
People who use body intuition are doing exactly that, they rely on their body sensations, and based on those, they reach conclusions and make decisions in areas where other sources of information are usually used. Some of these examples include decision-making when purchasing shares at the stock exchange or during relationships with other people.
The source of knowledge also includes “body memory”. A striking example of it is the unique skills of athletes and musicians. If you try to consciously figure out how the ball hits the soccer goal or a basket, then this will certainly be a result of a minimum set of complex physical calculations.
And an athlete who has no idea about physical calculations and equations simply sends the ball into the basket, guided solely by the acquired intuitive body sensations.
The example with musicians is even more perplexing. It is known within professional circles that a violinist is able to feel the change in musical tone, “spacing out” with a fingertip the lengths in tenths of a millimeter.
2. Sensual or emotional intuition
Strictly speaking, this type of intuition is the most well-known since it is familiar to almost everyone, and is even reflected in such famous expressions as “cold feet”, “stone heart”, “troubled soul”, which show the physical manifestations of anxiety that plays an essential role in our sense of security.
Emotional intuition is also the most common of the types of intuition. It sometimes happens in life that everything seems to be perfect, but your heart and soul are restless and tell otherwise. But not everyone is capable of trusting these intuitive signs and pay attention to these manifestations of anxiety.
And then, when something bad happens, you begin recalling that something did not feel right the day before or that you even had some kind of prophetic dream and premonitions.
Bearing this in mind, this is perhaps the most unverifiable of the types of intuition because it is a characteristic of those who lived through an event. And after the fact, it is difficult to distinguish between intuition and imagination.
Still, it is widely known that a few of the passengers of the sunken “Titanic” did not board the ship at the last moment.
3. Intellectual intuition
Conventional science views this type of intuition as a complex joint outcome of the rational and sensory perception when a difficult task of intellectual thinking is aided by old and reliable methods of understating the world through symbols and images.
If we examine numerous examples of “insights” in technical and scientific fields, it is apparent that the “enlightenment” contains some symbolic “hint”.
These hints help us to understand the essence of what previously seemed just a jumble of formulas, facts, and results of calculations devoid of any logic. It can be that the elements of insight have long been brewed in the head of the creator and the intuitive approach only helped them solve the puzzle.
No wonder Robert Sternberg and Todd Lambert identified five “components” of creativity: knowledge of the matter, creative thinking skills, reckless personality, intrinsic motivation, and creative environment.
Intellectual intuition sometimes includes “subcategories”: professional, scientific and creative, although there is no need in categorizing them this way. All of the three subcategories are identical to each other.
4. Social intuition
Social intuition. Famous American psychologist David Myers in his book “Intuition. Its Powers and Perils” also identifies social intuition, by which he means many different in origins types of unconscious perception of the people around us.
So, for example, figuring out whether a certain person is dangerous to us and what their intentions are takes only ten seconds after we first met this person.
Our conscious and unconscious assessments of a stranger often diverge, even to the point of being the opposite. The more often we see a person, the more attractive he or she seems to us. We tend to attribute certain qualities to someone we meet, relying on irrelevant factors, such as the environment in which we have met this person.
5. Mystical intuition
In order to paint the complete picture, we must mention that the outstanding Russian philosopher Nikolai Lossky has introduced the type of mystical intuition, by which he meant something related to the highest form of intellectual knowledge in the field of “abstract ideas”, the type of mathematical way of thinking.
In general, this kind of intuition can be safely called the rarest because it is clearly a characteristic of only a few dozen people in history.
Men’s and women’s intuition
In conclusion, it is worth to mention the differences in intuitive abilities among genders. More correctly, perhaps, it is not about male and female intuition, but rather about different abilities in its use. Numerous studies show that women are much more “intuitive” than men.
Traditionally, it is related to a number of female characteristics, including greater empathy, which is based on a more developed ability to recognize and distinguish human emotional states. Research confirms that women show better results in determining whether a person loves someone or just pretends to, who of the two people is the big boss and who is the employee, and whether a particular person is lying or telling the truth.
These were the basic types of intuition. Which ones have you experienced? We would like to hear about it.
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