What is your definition of intuition

Intuition as the basis for business decisions

Thanks to digitization and globalization, it is increasingly important to make quick decisions in today's business world. But although it has never been easier to provide yourself with comprehensive information for a decision, there are always situations in life where not all the background information required for a decision is available - or, conversely, there is even too much information so that we cannot are able to process them at all. At this point, our intuition always plays a central role; our gut feeling, which is noticeable in difficult decision-making situations and can influence the decision itself. Experts agree that something like intuition exists, but so far it has not been possible to agree on a generally applicable definition. For almost everyone, intuition has a different meaning and is expressed differently.

If one considers and combines the general knowledge of the literature, the following can be understood under intuition: "Intuition is an ongoing process that takes place without the knowledge of the user. This process combines experience with knowledge, the origin of which cannot be precisely determined. However, this knowledge can be used for decisions, even if it has never been discussed before. For this reason, intuition not only combines experiences, but also assumptions from evolution. Every person acts intuitively every day, it is important to discover and use this intuition in oneself. "

Intuition and emotion

In many ways there are connections between intuition and emotion. Mostly these are seen as rather disturbing for the correct functioning of the intuition. However, a distinction must be made here between two different areas of intuitive emotion. One area in which the decision is directly influenced by emotions is, for example, an application situation that is characterized by the personal affection or rejection of the decision maker for the applicant. Another area acts as an indicator for the contribution of intuition to decisions. Many people describe this as a kind of gut feeling that can actually be felt and scientifically proven, as a neurophysiological study by Dane, Rockmann & Pratt from 2012 refers to.

Interaction between the two systems

Some of the basic research in business psychology, and especially intuition, was carried out by Daniel Kahneman. The 2002 Nobel laureate in economics describes intuition as a sub-area in our brain that acts very quickly and very poorly. This is completed by a slower system, which comes to a more precise decision after questioning the reaction of the fast system. Both systems are mutually dependent and work together. A decision made by both systems happens in an extremely short time. In the situations described above, intuitive decisions can be made, namely when the logic of the slower system does not intervene or even confirms the quick reaction of the first system.

As numerous studies show, the whole system of intuition is closely connected to the experience gained. The experiences that a decision maker has gained through past situations contribute to the continuous refinement of the intuitive feeling. He can also learn to benefit from a retrospective evaluation of his decisions and to use his intuition in a targeted manner in the future. Overall, decisions made intuitively are usually assessed as positive, even if it is difficult to confirm this empirically.

Despite a basically uniform opinion of researchers on the interplay of intuition and experience, who assume a direct link between the two and view experience as the basis and at the same time the origin of intuition, there are certain indications that doubt this concept in its unambiguity. The question arises as to when and how much past experiences influence intuition as a basis for decision-making?

In principle, every person is born with intuition, but you cannot use it immediately and must first discover it for yourself. In contrast to this, man is not endowed with experience from birth, but only collects it in the course of his life. So how can it be that intuition and experience are inevitably linked? Couldn't it be that, from a certain point onwards, the accumulated experiences overlay pure intuition and the decision maker only refers to past experiences because he knows their outcome? Of course, the decision maker does not want to repeat the mistakes of the past and will decide differently if the framework conditions are the same, but why should this then be done purely intuitively? Pure intuition usually takes place in situations in which the decision maker has no experience in the required subject area. For this reason, he has to trust “his gut”, use his intuition and, on the contrary, cannot fall back on previous experiences, as he does not have them.

In a recent study as part of a master's thesis on the subject of "Intuition-Based Management - Analysis of Intuition as an Influencing Factor for Business Decisions" at Munich Business School, the first indications of this argumentation were confirmed. However, this result must be viewed with caution, as the number of underlying surveys was relatively small. However, it can be seen from this that in practice there are definitely alternative opinions on the current state of research, but these can only be verified more precisely with the help of further studies.

Use intuition

In many studies, as well as in the expert discussions of the master's thesis, it became clear that intuition plays a major role in today's business world. Some people also see the difference between a manager and a leader in this: A manager relies on concrete facts, such as Excel data, while a leader is also willing to make intuitive decisions in certain situations - even if this involves a risk can bring. In this sense, it is never too late: Use your intuition and get to know it properly through intuitive decisions!



  • Dane, E., Rockmann, K. W., & Pratt, M. G. (2012). When should I trust my gut? Linking domain expertise to intuitive decision-making effectiveness. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 119 (2), p. 188
  • Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow.
  • Khatri, N., & Ng, H.A. (2000). The Role of Intuition in Strategic Decision Making. Human Relations, 53 (1), 57-86. doi: 10.1177 / 0018726700531004