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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Trust your instincts

9th January 2007

Researchers at University College London (UCL) have found that snap decisions are sometimes better than those made using rationale.

In a psychological test, participants were found to perform better when using their instincts in certain situations.  In the computer-based study, the volunteers were shown a screen covered in over 650 identical symbols, including one rotated version of the symbol, and asked to decide which side of the screen the rotated image appeared on.  When they were given a split second to decide they were 95% accurate, compared with only 70% success when given more time to look at the screen.

Although the findings seem to be counter-intuitive, the researchers believe they achieved these results because the subconscious brain recognises a rotated version of the same object as different from the original, whereas the conscious brain identifies two objects as identical, even in different orientations.

Dr Zhaoping, of the university’s Psychology Department said the study had proved that, "Falling back on our inbuilt, involuntary subconscious processes for certain tasks is actually more effective than using our higher-level cognitive functions. The trick is to know when this applicable or not. Trusting your instincts is only useful in some situations."


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