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Decisions, Decisions

Should you trust your gut?

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  • Jon Shireman/Getty Images

    By my third date with Josh, I knew. I'd invited him over for a drink after our dinner. He'd agreed. But on the walk home, his grip on my hand was tense and nervous. Before we even walked into my apartment, I saw everything: We could drag things out for another few months, but we were not meant to be. Something in his rigid movements and wandering eyes, distracted even when it was just the two of us, made that clear to me. Was it intuition? Some primal instinct to run from a bad mate? And should I trust it?

    Intuition is a slippery word, one that's tricky to define. The dictionary definition ("a thing that one knows from instinctive feeling") raises more questions than answers: What's an instinctive feeling? How does one "know" something? And does knowing something mean that what you know is true and accurate?

    Researchers on the subject often refer to intuition as a method of thinking based on emotions. "It's a feeling, a sensation that tells you whether an experience is pleasant or unpleasant," says Michel Tuan Pham, a professor of business at Columbia University and one of the authors of a recent study analyzing the way we use feelings to positively guess the outcome of events. "It is perceived through your body, not necessarily through your mind."

Decisions, Decisions
Should you trust your gut?
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