Intuition in Judgment and Decision Making

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Intuitive judgment is an important feature in the creative process since people often lack insight into how they generated a novel solution, and experience surprise. Figure 1 presents a schematic of a conceptual framework created by Petervari et al. Path 1 During this first pathway, intuition maybe employed to recognize new elements or variation of elements by recognizing their value based on gut feeling.

However, rational analysis may yield the same results through a less elegant, more time-consuming procedure. It is thus Path 2 in which intuition is more obviously featured in both idea generation and evaluation. Path 2 In contrast, big leaps in knowledge occur if problem solvers create a novel paradigm to solve a problem and this can serve as the basis for solving future, related problems.

It is also possible that a creator is not knowledgeable of existing procedures thus establishes their own. The same applies to relying on chance and selecting ideas completely randomly. Rather what happens is that a creator gains a starting hypothesis relying on a gut feeling.

In this path, intuition cannot be replaced with analysis and it sometimes even precedes analysis. It is tightly linked to establishing new paradigms, not only in the idea generation phase but in the evaluation phase too. In the Origins of Creativity Wilson sees creativity enabled by language as what makes us human. He sees creativity as the quest for originality and that we judge it by the emotional response it elicits. Wilson broadens the concept beyond problem solving and science to imagination and the humanities.

Being creative involves our connections with other humans and our enjoyment of those connections. Creativity is a product of genetic and cultural evolution and Wilson sees it with great opportunity to bridge the sciences and the humanities in new ways. We will be more able to measure the world to better understand ourselves. However, even if equivocality is generally tied to structuredness, different types of equivocality have to be taken into account.

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This kind of socially induced equivocality may be referred to as people - driven equivocality. On the other hand, equivocality can also be inherent in the problem itself. This aspect is particularly evident in the so-called paradoxes that have recently attracted research Bloodgood and Chae ; Calabretta et al. Paradoxical decision problems consist of elements that are contradictory and interrelated at the same time, whereas these paradoxical tensions persist over time Smith and Lewis In contrast to dilemmas or conflicts, low analysability is a defining element of paradox decision problems.

This kind of equivocality may be referred to as task - driven equivocality. Although organization information processing theory considers information processing on the organizational level, its frame is also valid for the individual level.

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Whereas the information processing mechanisms to complete or coordinate tasks may be quite different on the organizational and the individual level, tasks can be characterized by uncertainty and equivocality on the individual level as well. In terms of uncertainty, this is widely accepted, but equivocality is also something that individuals have to deal with in decision-making.

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  5. This is particularly evident for task-driven equivocality. However, people-driven equivocality may also occur on the individual level, if a decision maker is faced with different or even conflicting interpretations that have to be integrated into a coherent whole to make a sound decision. Regarding the information processing mechanisms, individuals can process explicit or implicit information and thus may follow an analytic or an intuitive approach. In this sense, analysis and intuition are decision-making tools Sinclair and Ashkanasy to cope with uncertainty and equivocality, whereas the latter determines the effectiveness of either an analytical or intuitive approach.

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    For example, Daft and Macintosh found that decision makers preferred equivocal information in ambiguous tasks and primarily relied on their experience to interpret these cues. Accordingly, both uncertainty and equivocality are relevant to adequately characterizing the context of a decision problem and should be treated as independent constructs. What makes organization information processing theory particularly valuable is its implication that the key to intuition effectiveness is equivocality rather than uncertainty.

    The less a problem is analysable i. This stands in contrast to the majority of approaches linking intuition effectiveness with uncertainty while neglecting equivocality or seeing the latter as a feature of the former Winkler et al. In fact, a Simonian perspective on decision-making is unable to account for equivocality as an independent construct from uncertainty, because it assumes that there is a deterministic, objective environment to which a decision maker must adapt.

    Restrictions arise solely from the inability to acquire and process all relevant information, leading to uncertainty defined as the absence of information. To consider equivocality, it has to be taken into account that a decision maker not only adapts to the environment, but also shapes it. Information is not only acquired and processed, but also defined and brought into the world Felin et al.

    Accordingly, Daft and Lengel regard equivocality as a feature that distinguishes human information processing from mechanical information processing. They clearly emphasize that rules and regulations are not designed to handle equivocality. Instead, they suggest that an increase in equivocality is associated with a decrease in the number of rules used to arrive at an interpretation. Instead of favouring one interpretation over another, ambivalent decision situations call for a holistic approach to maintain a complete picture of the problem Ashforth et al.

    Intuition in decisions

    As interpretations are personal per se, equivocality also resides in the perceptions of the decision maker Felin et al. Unlike uncertainty, equivocality is always subjectively perceived, interpreted, and felt Martin To date, intuition effectiveness has not been explicitly studied for decisions under equivocality. The present paper highlights that the salience of equivocality is crucial for intuition effectiveness and identifies a significant research gap.

    The article thus encourages taking a closer look at this connection. As the contribution of the paper is theoretical, its findings remain partly speculative and further specification and evidence is required. The research design from Rusou et al. Although the authors do not especially account for equivocality, their experiments are designed to compare analysis and intuition effectiveness in well-structured and ill-structured tasks. In the first experiment, participants were confronted with pairs of photographed faces as an ill-structured task or arithmetical multiplications as a well-structured task.

    Within each pair, the participants had to choose the face that seemed nicer to them or the multiplication that seemed larger to them, respectively. In the second experiment, participants were confronted with pairs of scene photographs ill-structured task or averages well-structured task. As the ill-structured tasks involve aesthetic judgments, they are associated with high equivocality. In contrast, the well-structured tasks are associated with unambiguous optimal solutions and thus reflect low equivocality.

    As the former tasks lack unequivocal best solutions, the authors looked at transitivity in pairwise choices to measure and compare analysis and intuition effectiveness. They assumed that if individuals are prone to error in decision-making i. Results showed higher intuition effectiveness for the ill-structured tasks compared to analysis effectiveness , and higher analysis effectiveness for the well-structured tasks compared to intuition effectiveness. To strengthen and extend these results, future research could conduct similar experiments to take a closer look at intuition effectiveness in decision problems that involve aesthetic, political, ethical, behavioural, entrepreneurial, creative or paradoxical judgments.

    Another point future research should take a closer look at is whether different types of equivocality call for different types of intuitive coping strategies. Here, it is suggested to differentiate whether intuition is used to reduce or embrace equivocality. Equivocality can be reduced, for example, through the use of face-to-face communication Daft and Lengel ; Zack , group interpretive processes Crossan et al. In negotiation situations, for example, equivocality can foster effective decisions by maintaining social order without narrowing the communication flow. In the context of this article, holism represents the conscious acceptance of the unconscious intuitive system to take the lead in decision-making.

    Can We Rely on Our Intuition? - Scientific American

    Embracing equivocality seems to be especially important for task-driven equivocality. Obviously, when equivocality is constitutive for a decision problem, it cannot be reduced, but has to be embraced Neill and Rose Nevertheless, embracing equivocality also seems a reasonable strategy when coping with people-driven equivocality, so these relationships should be further investigated. Regarding organization information processing theory , an examination should be carried out regarding which mechanisms of the organization to process equivocal information can be transferred to the individual, and to what extent organizational and individual mechanisms differ.

    Of course, equivocality alone is not sufficient for intuition to be an effective and thus ecological rational strategy Dane et al. There are several other variables potentially moderating intuition effectiveness in decisions under equivocality that should be taken into account.

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    First of all, existing research indicates that the quality of intuitive decision-making depends on having sufficient implicit knowledge and domain-specific expertise to adequately understand the decision context Betsch b ; Dane et al. This is also emphasized by organization information processing theory , in which it is assumed that sufficient experience is necessary to interpret equivocal cues Daft and Macintosh In addition, it has been shown that people differ in their preference to either rely on intuition or analysis, and that such a preference or thinking style influences intuition effectiveness Betsch a ; Phillips et al.

    Last but not least, the present article calls for a systematic exploration of cognitive biases that occur when equivocal situations are approached analytically. In well-structured problems, intuition is less likely to pinpoint the optimal solution. As the optimal solution is unequivocal, relying on intuition is error prone, leading to cognitive bias. However, there should also be an analysis bias when ill-structured problems are approached analytically.

    In this case, an analytical approach leads to a one-sided distortion of the problem by emphasizing certain aspects while simultaneously ignoring other aspects that are similarly relevant. When equivocality is an essential feature of a problem situation, an analytical precise approach improperly narrows the necessary room for interpretation. For example, the described findings from Rusou et al. Another potential analysis bias is the tendency to give into heuristic impulses.

    Research suggests that experiencing ambivalence tends to trigger cognitive discomfort, so people may try to prematurely reduce ambivalence despite its functionality Guarana and Hernandez , On the other hand, resisting such impulses is assumed to positively influence holistic and thus implicit information processing Ashforth et al. As applying heuristics reflects a rule-based approach see above , following an analytical instead of an intuitive approach may cause analysis bias when equivocality is high.

    In general, further investigation is required into the assumption that analysis bias occurs when problems are non-decomposable and not amenable to analytical solutions. While the phenomenon of intuition bias is well researched, the study of analysis bias is extremely underrepresented. There are also some important restrictions and constraints. First of all, it may in some cases be difficult to decide whether specific aspects are uncertain or equivocal because, although uncertainty and equivocality are treated as independent constructs, they are undoubtedly related in real decision situations Daft and Lengel For example, it seems that equivocality and uncertainty sometimes refer to different stages of the decision process and directly affect each other.

    Defining the situation may be a strategy to reduce equivocality, but may eventually increase uncertainty when subsequently choosing between alternatives Lehner Intuition and analysis may accordingly be of different value in different stages of the decision process. As a result, the effectiveness of rule-based behaviour may be perceived differently depending on the stage under consideration in the decision process. Another difficulty lies in the comparison between intuition and analysis effectiveness. When a given problem is ill-structured, no objective criteria can be derived that determine the degree to which a decision is correct or biased.

    It cannot be ruled out that an analytical approach leads to a better decision than a poor intuitive judgment even in ill-structured problems. It is impossible to determine an objectively best intuitive judgment when structuredness is low.

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