Should I Trust My Gut?

Growing up our teachers, friends, and family always gave the same advice when it came down to making decisions. Trust your gut. But is this actually true. I can name many times when I have gone with my gut and been horribly mistaken. So why does everyone still say this? Does it actually work?

There are actually two sides to this debate. There are many scholarly written articles about trusting your intuition that defend this case but there are also many that question this. After reading into it I personally do not believe in “trusting your gut.” It really depends on the situation but if I am taking a test, I do not think the best thing to do is to go with my first answer.

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A study done in 2012 on the human decision processes said that gut intuitions are due to lack of awareness. When you know less about the situation you are in, going with your gut may not be the best decision. In this case you are more likely to be wrong. For example, if you were taking a test and were unsure of an answer, so you went with your first choice you may want to rethink this. Your intuition has a very good chance of being wrong. If you reread the question and look at it again and you see a different answer the chances are that one is the correct one. This is because the one you chose initially was due to your lack of awareness. After looking further into the question you now understand it more which will lead you towards the right answer. A different study from 1994 came to this conclusion after observing many students. They found that students are more likely to change their answer from a wrong to a right answer than a right to a wrong answer. Basically, the students who changed their answers tended to receive the better test score.

On the other hand in a 2011 study, researchers hooked up participants to a heart monitor and monitored their heart rate as they played a card game. They found that the winners of the game were the ones who listened to their heart rate, aka the ones that followed their gut. They say that intuition is an automatic process based off of beliefs, experiences, and memories. Trusting your gut does not require any deep thinking. In this article, they also describe your intuition (your gut feeling) as a sixth sense that we mistakenly we glance over. They say this sense gives us the ability to organize chunks of information in a given time and make a educated decision from that.

Overall, I think whether or not to trust your gut comes down to the situation that you are in. If you are being rushed and don’t have time to make a reasonable decision, going with your gut might be the right thing. But based on these two articles personally I do not believe in trusting your gut. I agree with the first study that gut decisions are based off of lack of awareness and cause people to make a random and impulsive decisions.

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7 thoughts on “Should I Trust My Gut?

  1. Taylor Weinstein

    Hi Hannah,
    This is a very interesting topic and one that comes up in my life a lot. There are many decisions that I am trying to make and I go with what my gut tells me and it works great and then, there are some for example during an exam and I trust my gut and it doesn’t go so well. I have to agree with you i think it has to do with the situation that your in at the time. My teachers and parents always say, “trust your gut.” Sometimes this is hard because I don’t want to pick the wrong situation. How do you feel about this topic? I would like to hear where your at with this debate? Has it worked when you trusted your gut? I am wondering if gender has anything to do with trusting your gut? This article that I found on the Science of Intuition talked about how strong a women’s intuition has to be in order to protect her loved ones. I found that interesting and true so it means that gender does play a role in making gut decisions.

  2. Mary M. Brown

    I wholeheartedly agreed with you when you explain that trusting your gut comes down to the situation at hand. For example, I could trust my gut on two different occasions while taking a test. In the first scenario, I could take a test I have studied for and work through a problem, making an educated guess based on my gut reaction. In the second, I could take a math placement test where it would be better to leave a problem blank than to trust my gut, get the problem correct, and be placed in a higher math that I should be, setting myself up for failure.

    However, we do have to remember what we learned in class…that our intuition is weak. For that reason, it is probably better to not trust our gut, unless a situation isn’t extremely dire. Here is an interesting Psychology Today article I found explaining the times when we should trust our intuition.

  3. Jackson Grey Hope

    This is a phenomenal discussion topic! I often find myself going back and forth and second guessing myself. When I get scantrons back and look at the eraser marks that were filled in on the right answer and then changed to the wrong answer I am obviously devastated. However, I never really notice how many eraser marks were on the wrong answer and then changed to the right answer. This ties into psychology in that you are obviously going to realize something and put a harsher stance on it when it has a negative effect. Also, every teacher from elementary school on has sounded like a broken record saying, “Go with your gut,” and we choose to just believe it without doing any actual research. Second guessing on a test can definitely have negative effects, but as you said, when we know the information, it is important to leave your options open for any answer and use all the information you have stored to leave all options open. I found an interesting article on why trusting your instincts aren’t always the way to go, not just on tests, but in real life as well.

  4. Olivia Mei Zhang

    Hey Hannah,
    I really liked your post because I have thought about the reliability of “trusting your gut” too many times. Especially in a test-taking scenario, we can become torn between trusting our gut and second-guessing ourselves. I remember a comment made by my history teacher in high school that students who changed their answers on multiple choice questions almost always got them wrong. She stressed that “trusting your gut” is your best option when faced with a guessing dilemma. Unless you are 100% of the answer, you should go with your first choice. Anyways, I found this thought-provoking article about when to listen to your intuition (check it out) )

  5. Katrina Burka

    Hi Hannah, your post really caught my eye. This is something I’ve for sure struggled with, and looking at your data, I would totally agree that trusting your gut rally depends on the situation at hand. Put on one hand, “trusting your gut” seems really vague. Is is the quick spark decision that happens in your brain or is it an underlying subconscious moment, rooted deeply in your brain? I’ve had moments when trusting my gut has been beneficial and other time when it has failed. I think intuition plays a huge role in this. Relating this back to class, I can see a connection to the “does prayer heal” study. Both are vague and very subjective to the situation. Expanding the conversation, I would ask does intuition exist and if so, is it higher for certain people? This would lead me to think that levels of intuition cause different levels of trusting your gut.

  6. Avery Elizabeth Holland

    I too agree that many times going with your gut may not be the best decision. During tests or quizzes, I many times quickly read the question and and write down or bubble in the first answer that comes to my mind. I may not even take the time to think thoroughly about my decision because I just think my initial “gut” answer is the correct one. When I make this decision, I normally get the answer wrong. Going with our “gut” feeling or intuition means we are not taking the time to think about all the possible choices we are given and figure out the best one. I believe that second guessing ourselves can be a good thing because it causes us to think about a situation in a different manner and consider better options. I found another article that talks about the best situations to use your intuition. It talks about not only having knowledge behind the situation or topic but also knowing yourself. Check it out <a href""a/&gt;.

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