Intelligence and Intuition

According to “Intelligence, Personality, Politics, and Happiness”, which (among other things) considers the relationship of intelligence to personality traits (as measured by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, MBTI),

an iNtuitive person (one who grasps patterns and seeks possibilities) is 25 times more likely to have a high IQ than a Sensing person (one who focuses on sensory details and the here-and-now).

But which comes first: intelligence or intuition? My money is on intelligence. That is, highly intelligent persons are more likely than their less intelligent peers to show up as iNtuitives on the MBTI. In my view, it is not that iNtuitives are uninterested in sensory details and the here-and-now, but — compared with Sensing persons — they more quickly grasp details and see the patterns in them and the possibilities indicated by those patterns.

In sum, I think of intuition as a manifestation of intelligence, not a cause of it. To put it another way, intuition is not an emotion; it is the opposite of emotion.

Intuition is reasoning at high speed. For example, a skilled athlete knows where and when to make a move (e.g., whether and where to swing at a pitched ball) because he subconsciously makes the necessary calculations, which he could not make consciously in the split-second that is available to him once the pitcher releases the ball.

Related reading: “The Mystery of Expertise,” The Week, December 22, 2011

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