Where Do "Gut Feelings" Come From? Science Says They Aren't Based On Intuition Alone

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I’ve always had a knack for reading people. That’s not to say I’m some sort of mind-reader or anything; I can just tell what a person’s like after only spending a few minutes with them. We don’t even have to talk necessarily, because body language has a lot to do with it, too. But apparently, my superhuman powers aren’t so super after all. Have you ever wondered where “gut feelings” come from, anyway? It’s not just intuition that gives us the upper hand on knowing how a person will respond or behave.

If you’ve experienced anything resembling a gut feeling before, you know how this kind of sixth sense goes down. For me, when I get that inexplicable, stomach-dropping rush that a situation is about to go horribly wrong, my face flushes and my guard goes right up. As for calling whether or not a person can hang? I'm almost too spot-on.

I guess I can attribute this to my being a natural-born writer, but I’ve always been particularly observant, so I just figured my ability to read people stemmed from the fact that I'm always hyperaware of everyone and everything around me. It’s definitely a key factor, but according to a university professor who recently shed light on the subject, everyone is capable of honing in on “gut feelings;” it just depends on whether or not you choose to pay attention.

Science says "gut feelings" have a lot to do with channeling brain power.

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It’s funny to think that while you’re constantly searching for wifi on your phone, your brain is actually its own broadband connection that can sync up to other people’s brains and read them like a book. It turns out, gut feelings aren’t all-knowing premonitions made up of word choice assessments and recognizing how a person carries themselves. They are the result of an interconnectivity of the human mind.

At least, that’s what professor of psychotherapy Digby Tantam stated in an interview with The Telegraph. According to Tantam, the “interbrain” allows us to connect with others on a much more intimate level than we even realize by picking up on people’s emotions and “what they’re paying attention to.” Things like making eye contact, eavesdropping on conversations, and the like contribute to all of the subliminal information we’re fed on a daily basis.

It sounds almost invasive, doesn’t it? Tantam pointed out that this might be why commuters on a train, for instance, tend to avoid human contact altogether. It’s just too much for our brains to process. At the same time, these kinds of connections can also be somewhat comforting.

Tantam explained,

Being in crowd mode may also make us experience what it would be like to transcend out perspective, our time, our place, and our capacity, to feel for a moment, like a driving being.

We're all capable of experiencing "gut feelings."

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I definitely think some people are more naturally tuned into their gut feelings than others, but it all boils down to more of a lack of trying than it does lack of ability. We are all living, breathing creatures with functioning brains, but how many of us actually choose to pay attention to the people around us beyond a quick glance on the way out of a store or subway station? Gut feelings are, essentially, a response to detail.

Career and life coach Jenn DeWall, MBA, CPC, tells Elite Daily that whether or not you experience gut feelings isn’t directly related to how you interact with other people (i.e. if you’re an introvert or extrovert); instead, it heavily depends on how well you know yourself. Erica B. McCurdy, MCC, however, points out that because introverts “tend to be quieter and may spend more time being introspective,” they might have a “higher sense of gut awareness.”

There might even be a discrepancy between genders when it comes to who is more likely to experience, albeit pay attention to, gut feelings. Behavior scientist and relationship coach Clarissa Silva tells Elite Daily that gender differences play a role in personality traits. “While women are more in tune with their intuition,” she notes, “men ignore it more.” This isn’t to say women are nosier than men (though I know for a fact I'm more curious about most things than my husband is), but we do tend to pay closer attention to detail.

You can learn how to channel gut feelings by paying close attention to the people around you.

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If you're interested, gut feelings, intuition, and all that jazz are honestly really cool to become better acquainted with. I totally understand that we're all trying to get through the day and focus on our individual hustle, but actually connecting with another human being, especially outside of social media, could do us all some good.

The best way to hone in on your human "wifi" is to be alert. Put your phone in your tote bag, slip the work laptop back in your briefcase, and really take notice of your surroundings.

According to Dr. Danielle Forhsee, LLC, for most people, gut feelings are instinctive, and happen immediately, but there are ways to become more in tune with this instinct. "It is important to be more present in the moment, and acknowledge that that is what you’re noticing, and sit with it for a little instead of quickly trying to rationalize it," Forhsee tells Elite Daily. "I would suggest to think about previous experiences in your life where you have noticed that natural instinct, and what happened."

The concept of a gut feeling doesn't sound like something you can put into practice, but it is. In addition to becoming more attentive to detail, Silva suggests playing with this idea of predictions. Keep a journal and jot down your thoughts and premonitions about what might happen in the future, or how a person will fit into your life. Review your notes, and see how often you turn out to be right. Remember, don't overthink it. Just feel it out, and call it like you see it.