Most people would say that a logical person is more intelligent because of their ability to think logically and apply clear facts to a problem. Researchers, however, are revealing that intuition is the most important kind of intelligence.
What is intuition and how is it different?
People often confuse intuition with emotional intelligence, a hunch, and instinct. While the three can work together, each is a unique concept.
Intuition is a process that allows one to know something without conscious analytical thought. It is the application of information stored in the unconscious and conscious mind, in between logic and instinct. It has also been described as the ability to discern which information is essential and which is not. By some, it is believed to be our brains working based on collective intelligence.
It should also be added that the knowledge isn’t known through analytic thought but as an instant application of learned knowledge stored in the brain. An intuitive person has not consciously stored the information as specific facts. It is more like they absorbed the information without paying 100% attention.
You can think of intuition as an assortment of loose pieces of information that comes together when it becomes necessary to apply it. Picture a box with many scattered Post-Its stored in the “back of the brain” or subconscious mind. On each Post-It, you can find every muscle memory of having performed something, every visual memory or observation, each learned subject, and all sorts of personal experiences. The more frequently certain pieces of information get used, and the more important, the closer to the top of the pile they are. The definitive facts are still stored in the conscious mind. The less important ones remain on the bottom or get completely thrown out.
Comparatively, a logical brain has facts categorized and organized by subject on index cards filed in the conscious mind. They can go directly to where the specific fact is stored, so long as it was directly and consciously learned.
While we do tend to differentiate between the two, logical vs. intuitive, intuitive users still also use logic. They apply facts and patterns, analyze, and organize as well. They just tend to use their intuitive side more often.
Instinct is our base, programmed inclination to a specific behavior. Fight-or-flight is an instinct. We feel fear, so we instantly try to escape or attack the source. No knowledge was necessary to learn it and react.
A gut feeling
Also called a hunch, this gut feeling is a little between instinct and intuition. We have an unexplained sensation that may subconsciously be based on previous experience or fear that we don’t directly remember; this sensation triggers our instincts to be careful or mindful of a situation or person.
This is most often associated with intuition because it is based on an “unconscious sensation.” The main difference is that a hunch is triggered by fear or a sense of uncomfortableness without knowing why. Our instincts – or anxiety caused by it – don’t only trigger intuition. Intuition reacts to any event or information that requires action and is accompanied by a sense of knowing.
The Science of People defines this form of intelligence as the skill or capability to recognize, assess, and control your emotions, the emotions of others and of groups.
It is very important in our ability to relate to others, build relationships, handle our stress, communicate feelings, and empathize. Emotional intelligence is often associated with intuitive thinkers because they tend to be more empathetic and can connect with others more easily.
Intuition and emotional intelligence are separate because emotional intelligence is not exclusive to intuitive people, and intuitive people aren’t guaranteed to be highly emotionally intelligent.
The characteristics of logical mind vs intuitive mind
To really grasp the difference between the logic-based intelligence compared to the intuitive intelligence, we should know the traits of each.
Traits of the logical mind:
- Those with a tendency toward logic prefer things to be in proper, set order and have a recognizable pattern.
- Logical reasoning. They tend to believe that everything has a rational reason and that with proper investigation and information gathering, everything can be explained and problems resolved. They require verified facts to back up their conclusions.
- Scientific mindset. While logic is paramount, they are also curious and will create hypotheses to prove. These hypotheses will follow the scientific procedure, make notes regarding any findings, and create a theory. They will then seek to verify this theory.
- Math skills. Math is usually a strong skill, and they love the computation process.
- Critical thinking. They will analyze ideas from multiple perspectives and home in on patterns.
Traits of the intuitive mind:
In comparison, the intuitive mind is far more difficult to explain; scientists have difficulty determining how to measure or test it. Certain traits are reasonably consistent. These traits, a psychiatrist named Daniel Cappon isolated in an article in Psychology Today titled “The Anatomy of Intuition”:
- Insight-oriented. Intuitives tend to see “the big picture” based on insight.
- Lateral thought process. Whereas logical thinkers process information orderly, intuitive thinkers’ thought processes move sideways.
- The ability to recognize or have information that nobody directly taught you.
- Imagination and visualization. Extreme use of imagination which allows one to imagine something even on black paper. This also allows for the intuitive to best apply a method to obtain an objective as well as to visualize a process and see how it plays out.
- Flash recall memory. Due to taking in information as a whole, they can recall specific details quickly.
- This skill coordinates empathy and identification to figure out what caused something. It also allows for one to put themselves in the shoes of another person or thing to ascertain how it functions or why it behaved a certain way.
- Pattern recognition and matching. The ability to look at something and discern what belongs and does not. On a more subconscious level, an intuitive will also pick up on patterns of behavior or operation, allowing them to recognize quickly if something is off.
Why is intuition the most important kind of intelligence?
While studying how the brain processes information, one might easily separate thinkers into one of two camps. Logical vs intuitive thinking perform as two different types of intelligence; therefore, one could argue that they are two parts of one whole. Both are important.
Most people are capable of intuitive thinking. For some, thinking intuitively is generally their “operating default.” Those of us who are stronger with emotional intelligence, seeing big picture and unconsciously picking up information tend to work with those strengths. Those who have more logic-based technical skillsets tend to analyze information and make decisions based on facts. That just makes sense, right?
These two forms of intelligence are separated in studies to understand better how they independently work and the effect each may have on how one processes information.
Neither one by itself is complete. If a logical person only operated on facts, then new discoveries would be hard to imagine. The best inventors, scientists, and business risk-takers made decisions based on their intuition or while daydreaming. They acted on something that just “made sense” even if, on paper, it lacked facts.
If an intuitive only operated on intuition, their “knowing” would become inaccurate. The more information an intuitive cognitively knows, the more their intuition is accurate. The better a logic-based person learns to trust his intuition, the more creative ideas they come up with and the better their relationships will be.
Closing Thoughts: Why we need intuitive thinkers
The primary factor that makes intuition the most important intelligence is simply because a computer can out-logic a person. In the growing years, our society will become more technologically based and computer-dependent. Our value will depend on other attributes that an intuitive has – such as their ability to see the big picture and their creativity, empathy, and pattern recognition that goes beyond statistics. These abilities relate to understanding motives and intentions and using collective intelligence.
Intuitive intelligence is the most important intelligence because it will connect us and computers to create a future society.