Have you heard of the Iowa Gambling Task? 

Have you heard of the Iowa Gambling Task? 

If you haven’t then check it out because maybe, just maybe, it begins to explain some of the background to intuition, to that sensing that something’s not right, or about to happen, or that we should act – Now!

The IGT is believed to copy real-life decision making and was developed by a group of psychologists at the University of Iowa with interests in the neuroscience of brain functioning. 

In the IGT subjects are presented with four decks of cards on a computer screen and they’re told that they can either win or lose money drawing from the four decks.  The aim is to win as much as possible.  However, the rewards and penalties of the decks are different – some decks reward the player handsomely, whilst others involve heavy losses.

Most people sample the decks and after 40 – 50 goes they have worked out which are the more rewarding decks to focus on and which to steer away from.  However, measurements of galvanic skin responses – responses that are indicated and measured by changes in the electrical resistance of the skin caused by emotional stress - show that after as few as ten goes normally healthy people display a “stress” response, hovering over the “bad” deck.  

In short, long before they become aware of reaching a conscious decision, their body already senses that something is wrong.  It seems to “know” long before the individual is aware of making a conscious decision.

Intuition – it’s a tricky business.  But one worth being aware of and monitoring.