Intuition’s four parts

2012-09-23 15.19.48It is clear to even the layman that intuition is not just one thing.  Glockner and Witteman look at the theorizations and research and decide that there are four processes underlying intuition. They note that this is a starting point, but that research will be improved by refining the focus.

Associative intuition is simple learning and retrieval. It is learned through reinforcement and association learning, social learning, implicit recording of frequencies and values. It is retrieved as feelings of liking and disliking, as affective arousal, and as the activation of the previously successful behavioral option. Association intuition is  autonomous and functions in response to triggering stimuli.  It is fast, automatic, and mandatory and requires no analytic system input.  Affect may be an output.

Matching intuition is more complex example, prototype, image, schema learning and retrieval.  Matching intuition like associative intuition is autonomous. It is retrieved as comparisons with examples, prototypes, and images. Each experience with an object is stored separately in memory as a single trace.  Intuition, in the sense of a feeling towards an option, is an “echo” that results from automatically comparing the current object or situation to all similar experiences of objects and situations. In Klein’s recognition primed model, a situation generates cues that are compared to memory traces. This enables us to recognize patterns which make sense of a situation, and these patterns activate routines for taking action.  Affect and cognitive information are inputs and affect can be an output.

Accumulative intuition is simple evidence accumulation. It gets information from memory traces from association intuition and matching intuition. It is a pre-attentive system that may work in tandem with working memory and the analytic system. According to decision field theory, the inspection rate of each piece of information is proportional to its importance.  As soon as the evidence for one option reaches a threshold, this option is selected. Affect and cognitive information are inputs and affect can be an output. Decision time might increase with decreasing differences in evidence strength between the options.

Constructive intuition is construction of mental representations. This is the most complicated and is also a pre-attentive system. It gets information from memory traces from association intuition and matching intuition and from currently perceived information.  Not only is evidence added up, but constellations of information are also preserved.  Information is not only matched with examples, but mental representations are constructed that go beyond existing information in forming new consistent interpretations and combining element in new ways. It is pre-attentive in that it may signal analytic systems that more information is needed, because the selected option has weaknesses. Affect and cognitive information can be both inputs and outputs. decision time and confidence should be dependent on the overall consistency in the evidence. Minor changes in evidence and attention can completely change the option selected.  Arousal will be increased by greater inconsistency between the pieces of evidence.

Glockner and Witteman note that all four types of intuition perform best under the same general conditions:

  1. The information is unbiased, representative, and sufficient.
  2. Unconscious and conscious bias can be brought on by motivational or emotional factors or simply properties of the task.
  3. Conscious mechanisms can help detect biased information. Inconsistency between pieces of information can increase physiological arousal and function as an alert signal.

Glockner, A, & Witteman, C(2010). Beyond dual-process models:  A categorisation of processes underlying intuitive judgment and decision making, Thinking and Reasoning, 16: 1, 1-25.

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