An experimental study of individual differences in intuition : preference and process.


Woolhouse, Leanne 1996. An experimental study of individual differences in intuition : preference and process. Thesis University of East London
AuthorsWoolhouse, Leanne

This research investigated two aspects of intuition: preference and process. The
underlying basis of preference for intuition defined by Jung in his theory of
psychological types and measured by the sensing-intuition (SN) scale of the Myers-
Briggs Type Indicator was explored in two areas: performance on ability tests and
individual differences in use of intuition. Process of intuition is defined as the use of
unconscious associations to guide decision making.
A thinking aloud protocol technique was used to investigate differences in strategy
between sensing and intuitive types on two ability tests. Test instructions and
conditions were varied to investigate whether preference or ability underlies this
difference. Results indicated that the SN difference is best characterised as a focus on
different types of information - concrete reality vs. looking beyond reality to patterns,
connections and possibilities. The finding that sensing types could modify their style
suggested that this is due to a personality preference that can be overridden rather than
an underlying ability difference.
The nature of the SN difference was further explored by examining the differences
predicted by type theory between the types in the use of intuition. This prediction
contrasts with some process theories of intuition which expect few or no individual
differences. Results indicated that intuitive types were more accurate and more likely to
choose to use intuition than sensing types. Results suggested that preference for
different types of information led to use of different strategies on the tasks. Intuitive
types tended to focus on feelings of familiarity, which resulted in their accessing
intuition in the form of unconsciously learnt associations. Sensing types preferred to
focus on concrete information such as conscious memory of prior experience.
The research has made contributions by evaluating the theory of psychological types,
validating the sensing-intuition scale, and also by demonstrating the existence of
individual differences in certain measures of intuition.

Keywordsintuition; theory of psychological types
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Deposited11 May 2011
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