Bodong Chen

Crisscross Landscapes

Notes: Educating intuition



Citekey: @hogarth2001

Hogarth, R. M. (2001). Educating intuition. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press.


Hogarth defines intuition as responses ‘reached with little apparent effort, and typically without conscious effort. They involve little or no conscious deliberation’ (p. 14).

Hogarth pursues the question of whether we can rely upon our intuition. That is, should we let our intuition guide our decision making? The answer that emerges from the book is not a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. According to Hogarth, the usefulness of intuition depends on several important variables: the quality of feedback, the nature of the environment, and the corpus of knowledge stored in long-term memory.

Like many psychologists, Hogarth argues for a separation between the tacit and the deliberate information-processing systems. Intuition is largely a tacit process, but one of the main points of the book is to show us the advantage of using both systems in a synchronized way. While we have little control over tacit learning processes leading to intuitions, the deliberate system can be used to evaluate the nature of the learning process and to discriminate between good and bad intuitions.

Hogarth distinguishes between two kinds of environments: ‘wicked’ and ‘kind’. Wicked environments provide false or restricted feedback. On the other hand, kind environments offer clear input on whether the choice made was successful or not. Since the development of our intuitive capacity is strongly connected to a specific area of competence, intuition is also domain-specific.

Based mainly on his dichotomy between wicked and kind environments, and familiarity with scientific methods, he constructs a stepby-step programme, giving recommendations and exercises on howto improve intuition. In essence, hiseducational programme involves applying a somewhat loose scientific method to the areas where we would like to improve our intuition. The aimis to forma new set of valid intuitions in domains that one values. The method of improvement involves analysing the type of environment in which our intuition was acquired; trying to alter the nature of the environments we are exposed to fromwicked to kind; and identifying whether an intuitive or explicit judgement best fits the occasion.

Hogarth also tackles another important issue: the connection between emotion and intuition.

Intuition rightly deserves to be studied. The book gives a broad and innovative perspective on the subject matter, and the questions posed in it paves the way for further research. It might be difficult to use the book to improve intuitive reasoning, but those that have a theoretical interest in the concept will find some interesting ideas.