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Gut Instinct and Why Reading This Article Is A Waste of Your Time

You make eye contact and your stomach does a Gabby Douglas triple-axel five-twenty. He was looking right at you, with one of those slightly elevated mouth corners – the kind that don’t exactly scream, “let’s make out in the middle of this lecture hall,” but “I wouldn’t be totally opposed to making out with you in the middle of this lecture hall.” But then he looks away so abruptly it leaves you wondering if he was absentmindedly courting you, or the Subway sandwich the person sitting next to you so considerately positioned half dangling off their flip-up desk, threatening to drip into your backpack.

Edging your bag out of harms way, you ask your friend, “Did you see him looking over here?” She didn’t. Of course she didn’t. Now you look like that girl that’s always yapping about “this guy held the door for me today and gave me this look like ‘Go home with me’ and I looked back like ‘No I have class and you’re creepy,’” and everyone else is utterly confused. You convince yourself you were having a moment of shameful self-absorption and go back to taking notes, wondering if it looks sexier to flip your hair all to one side in a sort of messy studious allure, or if you should just throw it all in a bun and cut the crap. There was no way he was looking at you, you decide, biting your pen. You twirl your hair into the tightest bun you can muster.

There it is. Your gut instincts all Kanye West-ing on your logical Taylor Swift. Eventually Taylor wins out, and you feel stupid for even entertaining flights of fancy such as this one, but what’s so great is that your gut instinct is more accurate than we all may have been led to believe.

Psychology Today refers to it as “rapid cognition” or an “unconscious associative process” that fires and connects when you recognize a previously experienced pattern, even before logical Taylor (or should I say the ever classy Beyonce in this metaphor?) can recognize what is going on consciously.

Tests Are Easier Than You Think

According to a study done by a University of London team, people with less time to take a test measuring visual perception scored higher than those who were given ample time to logically reason things out. Turns out we are smarter when we are not trying to be… tell that to boat shoes in the first row with the perpetually raised hand. This means triple checking your answers and scouring your brain for the last molecule of knowledge is probably doing more harm than good.

Following your gut instinct ranked nine on “The Top 10 Test Taking Strategies” enumerated on CollegeTips.com. It mentions to double check your work, but only to the capacity of “making sure you’ve followed all the directions and haven’t skipped any pages.” Notice that does not include pouring over the semantics of each question; “which is the best answer” is usually never meant ironically.

How Far Can Your Gut Take You?

Psychology Today warns against placing too much faith in your gut instinct when trying to decode a partner’s behavior within a long term relationship. Being overly anxious, like thinking that your partner is somehow spurning your entire human makeup when he says he wants to listen his iPod in the car and not yours, will only hurt your relationship. A gut instinct may tell you some things that you don’t like, but paying attention to all the positive feedback your instinct may be missing initially is imperative to maintaining a healthy relationship. Basically, reconfigure your settings to include cuddles and tight hugs and not just the occasional wandering eye and lagging text responses.

Forbes also advises you utilize four tests to ensure the credibility of your gut instinct in matters that require sufficient logical and intuitive synergy, like signing a lease with your friends or joining a college sports team. First is the familiarity test, which involves thinking back to identical or at least similar situations and deciding whether you have enough experience in order to make a sound judgment. Second, is the feedback test, in which you recall the feedback you received from previous decisions in a similar situation and what you learned. Third is the measured-emotions test where you account for traumatic experiences, putting them in perspective, as they are likely to affect your decision making in irrationally skewed ways. Lastly, is the independence test where you check that you are not acting out of inappropriate personal interests.

We should thank our gut instinct for its efficiencies and expert leadership. After all, those without it take hours to make the simplest decisions, like what cereal to eat that morning. So go after what you want without reluctance, circle answer C when you’re wary about B, and talk to the boy that you feel an unspoken something for despite all logical reasoning. Because what is life without feeling and emotion? It’s a life with no Taylor Swift that’s for sure.

But you probably knew all of this already didn’t you.


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