Intuition Vs Logic: What’s The Difference


Intuition and logic is probably the two most vital skills required to make decisions effectively. But there is a constant battle between intuition vs logic. They are two very different yet effective methods; but when does one win against the other? Read on to examine the difference between intuition vs logic and how to use both traits effectively and at the right time.


intuition vs logic: whats the difference?


Intuition vs logic: what is this sorcery?


Logic can be defined as the ability to solve problems based on strict principles learnt over time. Being logical means using a systematic approach based on sound principles to take apart and solve a problem. In the book “Thinking fast and slow”, logical thinking is defined as a system 2 thought process. This type of thinking is much slower and more deliberate. Logical thinking can often be associated with activities such as solving a complex math problem or alternatively performing a demanding physical task.


Intuitive thinking, on the other hand, can be described as an internal set of rules you develop over time through experiences and perceptions. In “Thinking fast and slow”, intuition is referred to as a system 1 thought process. System 1 thinking is often fast, instinctive and emotional. This makes sense as intuitive thinking is based on past actions or methods used to solve a problem. Think for example about the last time you drove home without even thinking about it. Definitely not safe to do, but when left to its own devices the mind will act on autopilot to get things done. This was examined in further detail in the guest post: Intuition training for better decision making.


This is why it is important to expose oneself to good habits, perceptions and experiences to improve your intuition. Think of intuition as your “how to guide” developed over time to help make your life easier. Imagine having to think about every little thing in a logical way…. this would be a nightmare; hence the reason for intuitive thinking.


Intuition vs logic: when is it applicable?


Now that you know the difference between intuition vs logic; the next question to ask yourself is when to use either one. Sometimes this is not as easy to do, since intuition can sometimes be an automatic response to a situation. For example, a person with anger tendencies has intuitive outburst when provoked; in which case logical thinking takes a back seat. In this case, the person’s intuition cannot be trusted and work needs to be done to improve the mind’s natural tendencies.


According to the Harvard Business review post: When It’s Safe to Rely on Intuition (and When It’s Not), using intuition can be risky when a person is not experienced enough in the decision making area. For example a novice mountain climber should rely less on intuition and more on logical principles. On the other hand, someone more experienced with previous knowledge to base decisions on can sometimes rely on intuitive heuristics. According to research, to develop good intuition requires at-least 10 years of experience with repetition and feedback on the effectiveness of decisions made. This type of learning can also be done in an incidental manner, without awareness of what has been learnt. This type of learning is referred to as implicit learning.


Ultimately the decision of intuition vs logic boils down to three factors:

  • Your experience or level of expertise on the subject matter
  • The type of problem i.e. is it structured ( has clear set of principles and data is abundant to solve) or is it unstructured(no clear principles and little data)
  • Time constraints (if time is scarce, intuition is the way to go, provided that the above criteria is met


The final word:


Intuition vs logic can be a difficult topic to dissect. However, what is clear is that they are both very important heuristics. Our mind has developed them to help us become more effective. As much as we have the tendency to choose one over the other at any given time; together than can also prove to be effective. Also note that intuition alone can lead you to the wrong decision. This is especially true if your intuition is based on unresolved emotions and feelings. Ultimately the decision to use intuition vs logic comes down to personal choice. Whatever you choose, make sure to practice the rules above; they will help you make more effective decisions in the long run.

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