Woman’s Intuition: Myth or Reality
In 2001, some researchers conducted a study to check the empathetic accuracy in men and women.
In their first seven consecutive studies, the average empathetic accuracy in the female participants was not significantly different from the average score of the male participants. The researchers were a bit confused because they had expected the women to exceed the men with a more substantial score, but that didn’t happen. So just before they were going to debunk the myth of the “woman intuition” something happened.
Their next 3 studies recorded a significant gender difference favoring the female participants
What was going on? Seven in a row, no gender difference and now three studies showing a difference. The researchers decided to find out.
They compared the methods of all ten studies to see if there was something that caused the change.
They discovered that in the first seven studies, the participants were not aware that it was their empathetic abilities that were been assessed, but in the three new studies, this assessment was made clear. The participants were aware that their empathetic abilities were being measured
The researchers believed that the women’s levels of motivation were heightened because they were aware of what was being measured. They ascertained that as a society, women were expected to have a heightened sensitivity and emotional awareness.
To verify this new discovery, they conducted a new study, using the old procedure and no gender difference appeared but when they used the new procedure, the gender difference resurfaced. ‘
So the researchers went on to publish their results, stating that although the average woman does not have a more empathetic ability than the average man, they were able to create a heightened level of motivation in the women by reminding them that the task was one in which women were meant to exceed.
After this study was published, another set of researchers set out to find out if they could raise men’s motivation to the level of the women in the previous study.
So to achieve this, they did something genius in my book ..THEY PAID THEM!
They paid the participants in one of the studies to be as empathetically as accurate as possible. And guess what?
They found out that in the conditions where no payment was made but the participants were reminded of what was been tested, the women did significantly better. But when the same reminder was given with the participants paid to be as accurate as possible, the men performance matched that of the women.
So this study is telling us that men as a group are not poor everyday mind readers but are simply unmotivated.
But if this is the result of the study, what happens to the woman intuition that we all hear about. Could it be that we were told these things so that we don’t argue with our mothers or partners when they speak or could it be that perhaps men over time have become more in touch with their intuitive sides? Because if we are being honest, it does seem like the woman intuition is a real thing…
Before I go into explaining why it seems like a real thing, let me explain the different terms .. INSTINCT & INTUITION. Many times they are used interchangeably but they are quite different
When you hear instinct, you know it’s something inborn in the way we behave. We don’t have to think or learn about it, because it is some form of automatic reaction to stimuli or an environment. So you see a big bear running towards you, your instinct tells you to run or when children cry when they hungry- it’s instinct.
But intuition is more of a learned process.. The brain draws on past experience and external cues to make decisions. It happens so fast that the reaction is at an unconscious level. And many times, since it’s not conscious reasoning we do it without the need for proof or evidence.
So now back to why woman intuition seems so real
There’s an author called Daniel Coleman and in his book Working with emotional intelligence, he spoke about something called THE POLITICS OF EMPATHY; where people with lower power have the expectation that they sense the feeling of those who hold power.
How does this relate to women? Well! Because women are part of socially subordinate group; the fact that they have little power forces them to gain certain nonverbal and verbal skills, because they need to be able to pay attention to the mood, emotions, and reactions of the dominant group that is the men – and this form of attention to details was and still is in a way a form of survival tactic.
This form of politics of empathy occurs in other societies and cultures as well. Like during the civil rights movements, Martin Luther King Jnr. said he was quite surprised at what little insight white people had into the feelings of black people – he said black people have had to be much more sensitive to how white people felt in order to survive in a racist society.
Same goes for women because they have been oppressed as a group in the society, they have had to become more empathetic. The practice is then passed down to their daughters and it’s been happening for generations.
There’s also another theory for this. Many say, our female ancestors needed intuition to tune in with their infants to enable them to survive. So the socialization of women as caregivers have made them more in tune with those senses. Infants many times, are not able to vocalize what they need, women have learned to gain the nonverbal skills to ensure that the children get what they need to survive.
But one study says that it could be partially biological and related to the lower prenatal exposure to testosterone that female receive in birth. As men have more of it they are able to take more risks and answer in a reflexive way which requires more conscious analysis.
It is important to add that contrary to popular belief, it is not just women who have this gift, men can be as intuitive as women because they have the same capabilities as them.
But intuition is seen as “too emotional’ or not masculine, so many times men lose touch with these feelings, while women are encouraged to embrace these inner thoughts.
And the reason for the belief that intuition is too emotional is due to the fact that many times we mistake strong emotions like fear, desire, and panic as intuitions. Which is understandable because they are very linked to one and another but It is quite important to know when your emotions are being triggered, because it can block and confuse you from listening to your intuition.
So thinking about all of this, I guess the woman’s intuition is both a myth and reality