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17 Jun 2013

Emotions vs Intuition (Pt 1): Conceptual Difference

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Feelings, Emotions, Intuition - Difference

BreadIntuition helps us acquire knowledge and make decisions via our emotions. Just as facts drive cognitive conclusions, emotions drive intuitive ones. As we saw with the food analogy where feelings are ingredients and emotions the foods, intuition develops interpretations of the meal based on the foods. Is it breakfast, lunch or dinner, a formal or informal occasion? Is the meal ethnic, fast food, vegetarian, or gourmet?

A good way to understand the difference between emotions and intuition is understand conceptually how they work together. Once done, Part 2 will dive into specific, operational differences and Part 3 into examples of differences.

Since emotions urge us to action, those urges give us insights. These insights are vaguer than we are accustomed with cognitive aspects of decision making such as reason and logic. Intuition and cognition form two complementary parts of decision-making. If intuition is the compass, cognition is the map. If intuition is the radar, cognition is a sighting.

Generally, a single emotion will dominate and drive the insight just as the main course can drive the interpretation of the meal. It’s human nature though to overemphasize a single aspect of a problem to formulate a conclusion. This happens much when relying upon instinct rather than intuition. Regardless, we need to fight this tendency.

That’s important because each emotion refines our direction. For example, using the compass analogy, the dominant emotion might narrow our 360-degree view to a 45-degree field. The other emotions refine it further. Without them, we might mistakenly head for the field’s center. Leaving out emotions is akin to leaving out important facts in a cognitive decision.

Admittedly, this is conceptual. Part 2 will take a deeper dive into specifics. Still, for some, this is already enough to help them visualize what they’ve been intuiting from their emotions.


Series Navigation<< Feelings vs Emotions: The DifferenceEmotions vs Intuition (Pt 2): Operational Difference >>

2 Responses

  1. While induction, for human beings, is usually not at a fully rational level, do not discount the potential role of software that uses statistical or logical techniques for finding patterns. Induction is subtly different from intuition: there usually is a pattern that induction recognizes, and this pattern may be applicable to other situations.

    1. Mike Lehr

      Yes, Jorge, you’re right. Induction is different from intuition, and there is value in software that identifies patterns in our observations. I can even see where such software can help us identify patterns in our own behaviors and thoughts. The challenge is that when it comes to interpreting emotions, induction computers can’t do this in the same way intuition can. My post, Computers in Decision Making (http://blog.omegazadvisors.com/?p=4641) helps to identify when such software might help. Since emotions are highly personal and interpretive, there is no software at the moment that can replace intuition. Nonetheless, induction software does serve a valuable alternative purpose. Thank you for visiting.

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