Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Intuition, Emotion, and the Decision-Making of Soldiers
Benedict Carey, writing in the New York Times, offers a look at the latest research on intuition in the military. Carey describes how researchers have been studying the way in which soldiers make decisions about where they believe IEDs are located. It's fascinating work that looks at the role of intuition and emotion in the choices that soldiers make. It reminds me of the groundbreaking work of psychologist Gary Klein, who has studied intuition in the decision-making of soldiers, firefighters, and nurses. Klein has written several great books on the subject. I highly recommend Sources of Power, a book that he wrote in the late 1990s based on his research. Klein shows that intuition fundamentally is pattern recognition based on experience. He provides a model of how we spot cues in our environment, draw analogies to past experiences, and make choices instantaneously and subconsciously in many situations. It's worth reading if you want to know more about what people often describe as "gut instincts."