Business Adept Blogs

Types of Intuition

During my studies of intuition, I have noticed that the generic term ‘intuition’ comprises a number of distinct types of function. By failing to differentiate adequately between them, many books on the subject may present misleading conclusions and unfairly discredit a potent part of the brain.

Furthermore, lack of a precise definition of each type of intuition leads to unspecified parameters and unrealistic expectations. In one book intuition is condemned because it does not perform well what is clearly a logical, conscious-mind function.

Here I’d like to explore the attributes of each distinct type of intuition.

What are the main types of intuition?

 Firstly a reminder of the generic definition of intuition:

The immediate knowing or learning of something without the conscious use of reasoning” Webster’s dictionary

What we perceive as an intuitive hit or gut hunch is usually the outcome of subconscious mental activity and may have a rational, though unconscious, foundation. In some cases, there is no explanation.

I have identified six distinct functions that commonly fall under the banner of ‘intuition’:

1       Pattern Recognition

2       Instinctive Reactions

3       Subconscious Knowledge

4       Subconscious Thought Processing

5       All-senses Perception

6       Parapsychological Experiences

Each has its own strengths and provides advantage if used wisely.

When considering each in turn it is important to remember that sensory input is processed by the parts of our brain that work at 50,000 times the speed of conscious thought. Input is filtered to show the conscious mind what it most needs to know at that time. Consequently, we are aware of only a very small part of what we perceive and remember subconsciously.

1  Pattern Recognition

Many academic experiments have given us a better understanding of this function than most other categories.

Possible the easiest aspect to comprehend is that of visual pattern recognition – the ability to fill in the gaps of an incomplete or obscure image and make sense of it. This skill was clearly an essential in the fight or flight mechanism. Life may depend upon being able to distinguish friend or foe quickly, even when not in clear sight. We recognise the patterns of the components and synthesize the whole picture, though not at a conscious level.

Other tests have examined patterns of behaviour and sequences of events. It has been proven that with complex patterns ‘intuition’ is much better than logical analysis at predicting the next in sequence. Tennis is a very good example of the need for this skill. Anticipation of an opponent’s moves and their effects, followed by precise physical response can only be achieved at the subconscious level. The conscious mind is just too slow.

Needless to say, some people are much better than others at pattern recognition. Hence their responses are said to be intuitive.

2  Instinctive Reactions

We are well aware of our ability to react instinctively. We train these reactions in all manner of ways from catching a ball to driving a car. In some cases, such as the military, sport and the performing arts, when speed is of the essence, we deliberately practise heightening the senses and reacting appropriately before thinking.

My own most memorable example of this was when I suddenly found a budgerigar in my hand. I had caught it instinctively as it tried to escape through an open window. Catching it would not have been possible with prior, conscious thought.

I could argue that instinct is in a category of its own. However, instinct is commonly referred to as intuition and thus deserves an entry in this list.

3  Subconscious Knowledge

We’re collecting knowledge all the time. We’re aware of some, especially that we actively research, but most is part of the sensory input which bypasses awareness. It all gets accumulated, regardless. Unfortunately, because we are not aware of its existence, the knowledge is not easily recovered. Nevertheless, it often filters into our consciousness in the form of a gut hunch, or similar.

4  Subconscious Thought Processing

Have you ever woken with the answer to a problem that had been worrying you the previous day? This experience is not uncommon. Our subconscious mind works 24/7. Another example is when the answer comes soon after we have stopped thinking about the issue.

Whenever I start a new consultancy project, my very first reaction is panic – I don’t know what to do in this specific case! I’ve learned to stand back, relax and just collect information. I don’t think about or analyse it, I just absorb it. Very soon my subconscious very kindly delivers the answer – I just “know” what needs to be done. While I’ve been preparing the ground, my subconscious has been processing and synthesizing current and historic information to find a way forward. Although sometimes the answer is a surprise, I’ve never been proved wrong.

Everyone has this capability but do we all have the confidence to sit back and let it happen?

5  All-senses Perception

This is where we touch on Neuro-Linguistic Programming in acknowledging that each of us has a favourite sense and that this is reflected in our language.  In a given situation one person may say “It feels wrong”, another “It looks wrong”, a third “It smells wrong” etc. Ideally, we should open all our senses to every experience and pay attention to subconscious promptings. Those of us that can do this appear to others to be responding to intuition – in this case a synthesis of perception that isn’t generally utilised.

6  Parapsychological Experiences

Points 1 to 5 above demonstrate that intuition or gut hunches are in most cases based on information and experience that we have been exposed to at some time. There is a mundane explanation for the source of the feeling.

However, there are cases that I think of as true intuition. They do not fit into any of the above categories; cases where people have perceived or have knowledge of things that they definitely couldn’t have experienced before. Though not properly understood, the mechanisms are acknowledged and are formally studied. They include clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience, telepathy, out of body experiences, telekinesis and more. They do exist but are rare and elusive – not practical for cultivating in a business environment.


Most gut hunches have a foundation in current and past experience, whether conscious or subconscious.

Where sensory input is key, we can train ourselves to take advantage of the speed of our subconscious minds.

Where inspiration depends on subconscious processing of subconscious memory, training is less effective - gut hunches do not happen on demand. Nevertheless, techniques such as Business Adept Cards can be used to access our subconscious mind and make better use of our full whole-brain potential. We should not reject intuition because it is not good a maths!

Why not experience for yourself the benefit of using Business Adept Cards?  FREE TRIAL

Laura Dziaszyk, BAC Co-creator