Handbook of Research Methods on Intuition
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Handbook of Research Methods on Intuition

Edited by Marta Sinclair

How does one go about studying intuition – a complex, cross-disciplinary field, which is still developing? How can intuition be captured in situ? How can a researcher harness their own intuition? This book uses method-related themes to help answer these questions and explore innovative developments in intuition research.
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Chapter 14: Researching the microdynamics of intuitive experience

Claire Petitmengin


When an intuition appears, the interest usually focuses on its content and the exploration of its consequences. For example, in the scientific domain, even though an intuitive discovery can have considerable repercussions in our daily lives, very little attention is paid to the experience itself, to what the scientist has been living through at the exact moment of the intuitive breakthrough. Researchers focus their effort on understanding the process that, once the new idea has emerged, enables the scientist to prove or justify it, but very rarely on the process that enabled him to find it (Holton, 1972 [1998]). In the philosophical domain too, attention is focused on the theoretical elaboration of the content of the intuition into a coherent system, with very few pages devoted to exploring the unique and specific circumstances of its appearance. In the field of artistic creation, of psychotherapy, of managerial decision making, as well as in daily life, the absorption of attention into the content of the intuition and its implications conceals the lived experience of its emergence. Even researchers who focus on the intuitive process quickly slip from a description of the intuitive experience to an explanatory model, the most well known being that of unconscious inference (Berne, 1949; Reik, 1958), unconscious recognition (Damasio, 1994; Dreyfus & Dreyfus, 1986; Kuhn, 1962 [1970]; Reber, 1993; Simon, 1987) and association (Changeux & Connes, 1992; Poincaré, 1970) or ‘bisociation’ of ideas (Koestler, 1964).

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