Should You Go With Your Gut?

Question: Is it better to make decisions rationally or go with\r\n your gut?

Sheena Iyengar:  We are often in society \r\ntold to make decisions in one of two ways.  We’re either told "Use your \r\ngut, just go with how you feel about it and let that guide you," or \r\nwe’re told to use reason–some very deliberative methodical process of \r\npros and cons and really thinking it through.  Most of the time you \r\nshould use reason, there is no doubt about that because gut often makes \r\nus susceptible to lots of different biases, particularly if what you’re \r\ndeciding is something that you really, that expertise can be brought to \r\nbear on it, there is a way in which you can align the odds, so then you \r\nshould really use reason.  About the only time our gut can truly \r\noutperform our reason is if we truly have developed a kind of informed \r\nintuition. So that means the chess master or someone who has really \r\nthought about it and given themselves feedback on a particular activity \r\nfor at least 10,000 hours or more.  About the only question that we \r\nwould say and this is a big one in our lives that we would say you don’t\r\n just use pure reason to decide the answer to is anything that affects \r\nyour happiness, because then gut and reason answer very different \r\nquestions. So gut tells you "How do I feel about this right now?"  It \r\ndoesn’t tell me how I feel about it tomorrow or even a few minutes from \r\nnow.  It just tells me how I’m feeling right now.  Reason tells me, when\r\n I do the pros and cons analysis, how I should feel about it right now \r\nand how I should feel about it in 10 years from now and so that the \r\nonly…  So for decisions about happiness you essentially need at least \r\nboth and probably even more than that, you probably also need to do \r\nanalysis that doesn’t involve yourself to get at the answer of what will\r\n make you happy in 10 years. 

About the only time our gut impulse can outperform our reason is if we have developed some kind of truly informed intuition.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

The world's watersheds, mapped in gorgeous detail

Hungarian cartographer travels the world while mapping its treasures.

Strange Maps
  • Simple idea, stunning result: the world's watersheds in glorious colors.
  • The maps are the work of Hungarian cartographer Robert Szucs.
  • His job: to travel and map the world, one good cause at a time.
Keep reading Show less

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less