Intuition can be consciously utilised

Intuition is an important tool, e.g. for problem solving. It can be developed just like any other skill, a new doctoral study indicates.

In her doctoral dissertation, which will be publicly examined at Aalto University, Master of Arts (Art and Design) Asta Raami studies intuition and its development.  This is a groundbreaking study, as there is very little previous research on the development of intuition.

'Intuition is an important mode of knowing and significant to every person in everyday life, but its role is emphasised in complex cognitive functions, such as envisioning, creating and problem solving. Indeed, many designers, artists and researchers say that intuition is one of the most important tools in their creative process', Raami highlights.

Many designers, artists and researchers say that intuition is one of the most important tools in their creative process.

Raami examines intuition particularly as a part of designers' creative work, but the results of the study based on an extensive set of interview, observation and questionnaire data also benefit those involved in other industries, such as management and education. The study indicates that it is possible to learn to use intuition intentionally so that it is not merely a random coincidence. It is also possible to develop intuition just as any other skill.

'Both intuitive thinking and conscious reasoning require practice in order to be reliable. However, official school education only aims at developing reasoning faculties. The potential for intuition is lost', Raami laments.

According to Raami, the use of intuition is hidden and downplayed in our culture. Intuition is perceived as an emotion-based activity and a form of thinking producing unreliable information. If one uses intuition, they must be able to present reasons for it as an outcome of concious reasoning.

Nevertheless, research indicates that intuitive thinking is even better than rational reasoning in certain cases. For example, intuition is superior when there is either too much or too little information available for making a decision or when a solution must be found in a short amount of time.

Practical tools

So how is it possible to develop intuition? In her doctoral dissertation, Raami presents different practical tools and exercises, which can be used to train intuitive thinking.

'First of all, one must open their mind and make room for intuition. People have different ways of thinking and beliefs that limit intuiting', Raami explains.

It is equally important to develop one's perception and discernment skills. A person's body, emotions and mind convey information by using different signals, which one must be able to consciously recognized.  Moreover, the correct signals must be discerned from biases of intuitive thinking, such as hopes and fears. Otherwise intuitive thinking will not be reliable.  

'For example, the mind could be compared to a television receiver, which can be tuned into new frequencies through which to acquire new information. However, this requires practice', Raami says.

Even though intuition is superior to reasoning in certain situations, best results can usually be obtained by combining these two modes of thinking.

'It is not a matter of either-or but about the integration of reason and intuition. Then we can talk about expanded thinking', Raami says.

“This path-breaking study demonstrates how intuition is an important mode of knowing, and a necessary part of the creative and the thinking processes. It also shows that intuition is a capacity that can be effectively developed. Previous psychological and medical research has run its course in viewing the human mind as though it were governed by mechanical laws of nature. This work offers new possibilities for the study of the arts, design, education, management and more generally for understanding the human mind.” says professor Marja-Liisa Honkasalo of University of Turku.

Public examination of the doctoral dissertation

The public examination of the doctoral dissertation 'Intuition Unleashed – On the application and development of intuition in the creative process' will be held on Friday 13 March 2015 at 12.00 at the Sampo auditorium of the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Hämeentie 135 C, Helsinki.  Professor Emeritus Charles Burnette, The University of the Arts, Philadelphia and Professor Emeritus Jorma Enkenberg, University of Eastern Finland will act as opponents. The dissertation is available for order from the Aalto University online bookshop shop.aalto.fi. Please send any enquiries to [email protected],or call tel. +358 50 313 7086.

Further information:

Asta Raami
tel. +358 50 562 6555
[email protected]
Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Dissertation online here! (pdf)

Image: Asta Raami

 

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