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Emotion, Logic and Intuition

Jürgen Kanz
Published by in thought-provoking impulse ·
Tags: EmotionLogicIntuitionTOCTheoryofConstraints
A recent scientific study [1] has once again shown that about 92% of management decisions are made intuitively. For individuals, the number is most probably approaching the 100% mark.

If one examines the relevant literature for help for one's own decisions, then it can roughly be determined that about 50% of the counselors argue PRO intuition and also 50% CONTRA intuition.

The question is, can we trust our gut feeling?

The inventor of the TOC - Theory of Constraints, Eli Goldratt, has lifelong propagated clear thinking. For him, clear thinking consists of the components of emotion, intuition and logic. In particular, the logic used in the hard sciences such as physics, chemistry, mathematics, etc., is an integral part of the TOC Thinking Processes used in reasoning, conflict resolution and change processes in general. In his book "The Choice" [2], chapter 18, he has impressively described the connection between these components:

"When we practice thinking clearly we don't devote the same attention to every subject; we tend to concentrate on our areas of interest. Now suppose that we use the intuition that we have in these areas to fuel logic. The more we succeed in thinking clearly the deeper our emotions in those areas become. The deeper the emotions,
the stronger is the resulting intuition. The stronger the intuition, the higher the chances to successfully apply logic—the higher the chances to achieve good results. And since these results were achieved in our areas of interest, they are meaningful in our eyes. The more meaningful the results, the deeper are the emotions, and so on and on."

This relationship can be graphically represented as follows:

adapted from Rami Goldratt [3]

In addition, Daniel Kahneman gives three pointers that can help you to trust your own intuitions.

It is undisputed that emotions and intuitions belong to the thinking in System 1 according to Daniel Kahneman [4]. While the logic based thinking takes place in the rational system 2.

Thus, in the model described by Goldratt, two systems of thought are involved. Which is very good from the author's point of view, because nobody can acquit themselves of cognitive biases and logical fallacies. The "Categories of Legitimate Reservations" proposed by Goldratt already provide an excellent opportunity to question one's own logic or that of a group with the intention to avoid shortcomings or mistakes. The knowledge and consideration of typical cognitive biases and logical fallacies refines the picture.

Kahneman wrote:
"Our intuition is more often right if:

  1. The environment is unchanging or slow to change. Complex adaptive systems are poor places to develop intuition.
  2. We have a large sample size. That is, we get a lot of practice.
  3. We receive immediate and accurate feedback."

We can put his statement in a tiny logic tree:

In an interview, Kahneman recently said [5]:

"...we have no option but to trust them (our intuitions*) because most of the time, we have to rely on intuition because it takes too long to do anything else."
* added by Jürgen Kanz

Which means that in our day-to-day business we decide with gut feeling rather than using our logic (thinking in system 2), ie clear thinking. Therefore, decision-makers should not be surprised if unintended consequences are the result of their decisions.

Do you have questions or comments about this post? Then please send me an email. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

[1] „Verbreitung und Akzeptanz von Bauchentscheidungen im Management“, Barbara Krumay, David Rückel, Philipp Wicke, Stefan Koch,, last accessed on January 5th, 2019
[2] "The Choice", von Eliyahu M. Goldratt und Efrat Goldratt-Ashlag, last accessed on January 5th, 2019
[3] "TOC and Breakthrough Thinking", Rami Goldratt,, last accessed on January 5th, 2019
[4] "Thinking, Fast and Slow", Daniel Kahneman, last accessed on January 5th, 2019
[5] "Big data, intuition, and decision-making in finance", Santa Fe Institute,, last accessed on January 5th, 2019

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