Expert intuition: what it is, its characteristics and how it works

Expert intuition is a type of intuition based on experience and on the basis of the repeated practice of certain actions related to the profession or to the modality in which the subject is considered an expert.

And thanks to this intuition, the expert can successfully solve a task in a short time thanks to a rapid recognition of the context in which it will take place.

Throughout this article we will see what expert intuition is and what impact it has on our lives.

    The two systems of thought

    Before explaining in more detail what expert intuition is, it is advisable to give a few brushstrokes on the two ways the human mind develops thoughts and ideas. According to psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, thoughts are created through two antagonistic cognitive systems described below.

    System 1 is the way to think quickly and intuitively. This thought system is used to process what is around us and to seek protection (eg, to be afraid, to escape).

    System 2 is slow, thoughtful thought. This type of thinking is analytical, which allows us to think about the pros and cons, and then make the decision that we believe is correct (for example, listen to a song on the radio and turn our heads until you remember of the singer’s name).

    We will now explain in more detail what expert intuition is.

      What is expert intuition?

      Expert intuition is the ability to find a good solution to a given situation very quickly that have professionals with a long career. When these cases occur, the person did not need to reason for this solution as they have solved many similar problems on many occasions and this vast experience allows them to recognize the problem and then the corresponding solution in seconds.

      Psychologist Gary Klein conducted extensive research on expert intuition, where he analyzed how professionals with long careers developed intuitive skills on the job.

      This type of intuition can be crucial in professions where decisions need to be made on the fly. because they are urgently needed, as is the case with healthcare professionals, police, firefighters, elite athletes, among other professions.

      Here are some examples in which expert intuition is realized in order to be able to understand it in more detail.

        Examples of application to trades

        Klein’s research with fire chiefs is a clear example of how expert intuition works.

        When a firefighter was faced with a complicated situation during a fire, he would focus only on the most successful option he envisioned from the vast repertoire he had learned over years of experience.

        Then he had already done an imaginative simulation on the action plan to see if it could work, in which case it would kick in. Otherwise, I would look for another option. All this thought of on the fly, intervening immediately.

        Klein presented a real case of a firefighter who, while trying to put out the fire in a burning house, quickly felt that the best option he had at the time was to escape in an emergency.. Soon after, the house collapsed. This is an example that explains expert intuition as a daily experience that is acquired after years of professional experience.

        A psychotherapist with a long career in counseling has had many opportunities to understand patients’ reactions to what is being said in therapy and, through this, can develop an expert intuition to find the right words and tone when ‘it’s about helping. the patient calms down and makes it clear that he can count on his help, as well as being able to understand the problem that is happening to him and, depending on what he asks, how to respond.

        After seeing some examples of expert intuition that I have put into practice, let’s move on to see how we can develop the skills necessary to be able to carry it out.

          How to develop expert intuition?

          It is important to emphasize that a true expert in a field or a profession know your limits in the field in question.

          The fact that a professional can develop the skills necessary for his expert intuition to be effective from his career, it basically depends on the immediacy of the feedback received from your intuition and also on whether you were able to put it into practice. at many times.

          Another relevant aspect for developing expert intuition is that it is done with contextually repeating patterns, so that it allows one to make predictions about what can be triggered after a certain intuition.

          Outraged, to have this expert intuition it is not enough to master a single skill related to the profession exercised, but several skills must be wielded solvent.

          Chess is a good example of how to acquire the intuition of an expert. A chess master is able to instantly understand the position where a certain figure is located and immediately find a solution to successfully solve the game.

          According to some research carried out with chess masters, it has been shown that it takes at least 10,000 hours of practice to reach a good level in chess or, what is the same, to practice 5 hours a day for 6 years at a time. during which to learn thousands of pieces.

          This way, depending on the arrangement of the chess pieces on the chessboard, you can guess the ways your opponent can attack and thus defend themselves in one way or another. This practice of 10,000 hours of chess mastery could be extrapolated to mastery of other modalities.

            Can we trust this to solve the problems?

            When someone trusts their intuition and beliefs relies on the cognitive ease with which these ideas come to mind and the sense of coherence they have. That is to say, he finds no contradiction when it comes to putting this idea into practice and, moreover, he considers that the results will be satisfactory.

            However, even if these conditions are met, there is no guarantee that the results you expect will be given after your idea is realized.

            This is why we should never trust 100% to a hunch, even if it is our own. Because, no matter how much confidence we have in our intuition, there is no certainty to what extent it is valid.

            Then we could be guided by two factors to assess the likelihood of a hunch coming true:

            • Let this happen in a regular context, so that what will happen afterwards can be predictable.
            • Having practiced enough in similar contexts, may have learned several regular patterns and their results.

            If both cases occur, there is a high probability that our intuition is valid, as in the case of chess, where the context is regular while the expert carries thousands of hours of delivered practice on his back.

            When expert intuition is given in a regular environment and our reasoning through System 2 Thought has been able to understand and memorize these regularities, it is possible to predict what will happen next and thus it is possible to take an urgent decision and with a high degree of certainty that it will be completed.

            In cases where all of the above is given, we could rely on expert intuition.

            Trying to have expert intuition in unpredictable situations is one way to deceive yourself. For, in case the intuition does come true, if a reasonably predictable situational model or similar to others already experienced before is not given, the success of this intuition would rather be due to luck. This is why we cannot not trust our intuition if there is no stable regularity in the environment in which it is triggered.

            Precise intuitions are due to the fact that the system 1 of his thought has learned to establish itself with great rapidity of action. without system 2 having learned to express these words intuitions.

            Certain intuition pathways that can be developed quickly, such as the intuition that arises from a bad experience in the past (for example, feeling tense when passing through a street where in the past there was a very bad incident. unpleasant).

            While it is true that you can often experience anxiety in a certain context or, when someone is talking about a particular topic, without consciously recognizing any action or situation that triggers this state of anxiety. In the event that this subsequently becomes an unpleasant experience, we speak retrospectively of that state of anxiety that precedes the unpleasant event as intuition.

            In the case of the firefighter mentioned above, he had this intuition to leave the fire site to escape danger of collapse and this was caused in part because he had repeatedly reflected on many types of fires and anything that could happen that doesn’t happen to him in real life.

            There is another real fact of a young army officer who had no combat experience and was given an exploration mission in unknown territory when, when crossing a narrow ravine, he began to hear tensions because during his formative years he had learned to detect that places like this were prone to ambushes.

            We generally learn quickly through the emotions aroused by certain contexts; but developing an expert intuition requires many years and hours of practice, because being an expert in a field or a trade does not require mastering a single skill, but it is necessary to handle with solvency a great diversity of interdependent attitudes.

            Bibliographical references

            • Morejon, A. (2019). Manual of psychotherapies. Theory and technique. Barcelona: Herder.
            • Kahneman, D. (2012). Think fast, think slowly. Barcelona: Debate.

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