How Intuition Can Boost Cooperation
Research is debunking the idea that humans act primarily out of self-interest. In fact, it seems our nature is to cooperate with each other. The catch is that we need to act more from our hearts, not our heads.
A study published in Nature looked at whether people are naturally predisposed to selfishness or cooperation. They found that making decisions based on intuition encouraged cooperation. Whereas, logical reasoning promoted selfishness and greed.
Thousands of study participants played a series of money games. They were placed into small groups and each person was given money. Next, they were asked to either keep their money or contribute to a pool that benefitted their group.
Researchers then watched how quickly the participants made their choices. Faster decision-makers gave more to their group, while those who thought longer contributed less. It seemed that making a decision quickly, based on intuition, led to greater generosity and concern for the group’s well being.
In a final test, researchers told some participants to think about the benefits of intuition and others to think about the value of logical reasoning before deciding whether to give or keep their money. People who thought about intuition were once again more generous.
What can this tell us about human nature?
Researchers pointed out that one of the reasons humans are so successful as a species is because we have learned to work together. Cooperation has likely become part of our instincts as a survival tool.
In fact, another study found we have a specific hormone, known as arginine vasopressin (AVP), that promotes trust and cooperation. AVP was already known to influence sexual and parental behavior, but researchers were able to show that it also plays a role in social bonding between people.
Study participants played a computer game in which they had to choose whether or not to cooperate with another player. The players who had been exposed to a nasal spray containing AVP before the game were significantly more likely to cooperate than those who had not received the spray.
AVP is released by the hypothalamus in your brain as part of your body’s normal functioning, so most of us naturally have a healthy dose of this cooperation hormone.
How can you strengthen your intuition?
Intuition is a part of human nature, but it can be subtle and easy to overlook if you’re not paying attention. Try some of these ways to start exploring your own intuitive abilities.
Focus on your main senses first – When you become attuned to your five main senses of smell, taste, touch, hearing and sight, you may also start to become aware of sensations beyond these.
Meditate – Taking a few minutes each day to meditate has many benefits, such as stress reduction and improving mental functioning. But the increased self-awareness you can gain through meditation can also improve your intuition. Check out a few quick and easy ways to start meditating.
Get creative – Whether you’re working on a creative project, or trying to solve a problem, ideas or solutions that come to you out of nowhere can easily be your intuition expressing itself. Try experimenting with ways to boost your creativity and see what insights might arise.
Check your hunches – If you ever have a feeling that a friend will call, or something else is going to happen, write it down in a journal. Then keep track if it actually happens.
Cultivate body awareness – Have you ever gotten a queasy feeling in your gut before you went somewhere? Does a particular person always make you nervous? Pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you. There may be more to the story than simple nerves.
Take a break – A short walk in nature, savoring your coffee, or putting your feet up on your desk to daydream for a few minutes, can all provide a quiet moment to listen to what your intuition might be saying.
Practice sensing other people – When you first meet someone, take a mental note of your first impressions. What do you think their temperament is? What sort of hobbies could they have? As you get to know them better, you’ll see if you were right.