The Importance of Trusting Your Instincts

When making a decision, it is always helpful to have all the facts laid out in front of us. However, in some cases, that is just not possible.

Whether it be deciding which people to let into our lives, or determining the best course of action in an emergency, sometimes we are left with just one important asset: our instincts.

Our instincts are one of the most primal parts of our nature, programmed into our subconscious minds and developed from birth. Most of us have heard the popular moniker “trust your instincts,” but this can be tough because we often don’t fully understand them. However, some research suggests that our instincts can sometimes be more trustworthy than our conscious minds.

A 2014 study published in the journal Psychological Science found that the unconscious mind was more accurate than the conscious mind in distinguishing liars from those telling the truth.

The researchers recruited 72 participants to watch interviews of suspects in a mock crime involving the theft of a 100 dollar bill. Some of the suspects in the interviews had stolen the money as part of the mock crime, and some had not. However, all of those interviewed were told to say that they had not stolen it.

When the participants were asked directly to determine which of the suspects had stolen the money, they were correct less than 50 percent of the time. However, when the automatic instincts of the participants were tested, using behavioral reaction time tests including the Implicit Association Test (IAT), researchers determined that they were better able to associate dishonesty-related words with those who were being dishonest, and truth-related words with those who were being truthful.

A 2013 study published in the journal Science tested how the unconscious reactions of newlyweds towards their partners aligned with the duration of their marriages. The test subjects were 135 newly married couples, all of whom reported being happily married. Individuals were shown pictures of their new partner, and asked to click a key corresponding with either a positive or a negative word. The reaction time that each individual took to make the associations was measured.

When the researchers followed up four years later, results showed that those subjects that had taken less time to associate their new spouses with a positive word, indicating that they subconsciously felt positive about them, were more likely to still be together, while those who took more time to associate the positive words with their spouses, signifying subconscious hesitation, were more likely be be divorced.

So, next time you are faced with a tricky choice, whether it be about a person, an immediate course of action that needs to be taken, or a direction to take in life, listen to that inner voice urging you in one way or another. Our instincts have been shown to have information that we do not consciously understand.

instinctsIf something seems off about someone, or something, do not ignore what your instincts are trying to tell you, and either go the other way or proceed with caution. On the other hand, if something in you is urging you in a particular direction, it may be worth giving it a second look.

-The Alternative Daily


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