Have you ever had a really strong gut feeling about something? You don’t know why. You don’t know where it’s coming from, but it’s telling you something very clearly. Should you trust it? In this episode, Aleena and Janine delve into the science behind gut instincts. Aleena then hijacks the inner square segment to update everyone on the latest kitchen renovation dramas, while Janine introduces a whole new segment to the podcast: what brought out her #InnerDumbass?!
Mastering of this episode, plus intro and outro music, by the ever-talented Dr Adrian Diery.
Janine outlines a nifty paper where four different experiments were done among university students. In each experiment, participants were given information about a range of cars and had to then make a choice about which car was best.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups: (1) a group that was asked to focus on the details being presented, therefore using a more analytical or deliberative decision making process; or (2) a group that was asked to focus on their gut feelings when making the decision.
The experiments showed that: (1) focusing on gut feelings seemed to lead to a better decision if it was a complex decision with lots of factors to consider; (2) making a decision based on a gut feeling meant participants were more likely to feel confident and satisfied with their decision; and (3) overthinking the gut feelings led to worse decisions. Overall, the study suggested that you can trust your gut when making a complex decision, and that you shouldn’t overthink it.
Do General Practitioners (GPs) have a gut feeling when it comes to diagnosing cancer?
She’s pretty passionate about public health, so Aleena went down the health and medicine rabbit hole in her quest to know more about whether we should listen to our gut feelings. She tells us about a systematic review that included 12 studies looking at whether and how GPs use their gut feelings in the process of diagnosing cancer – and how useful gut feelings are in diagnosing cancer.
This review found that when gut feelings were reported, the odds of a patient being diagnosed with cancer were four times higher than when no gut feelings were reported. It’s likely that GPs get their gut feelings from a combination of verbal and non-verbal “cues”, as well as their wealth of experience and the relationship they form with their patients.
There’s some super cool quotes from study participants that really show that, even in health and medicine, gut feelings are not just dismissed as invalid, emotional responses. In many settings, gut feelings are acknowledged to be a part of good patient care. But more support for using gut feelings in health care is needed.
Aleena derailed the segment, as she had some pent-up kitchen renovation drama to share with everyone… again… But this time there’s light at the end of the tunnel!
Janine also hijacks the segment to introduce a new segment: What brought out her inner dumbass?!
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