Intuitions and Ecological Rationality


  • Tabitha Prußeit Freelancer



intuition, intuitive decision-making, ecological rationality, experiential knowledge, structure recognition


Through an ecological approach, it can be said that a person tries to identify the optimal action for him- or herself by a set of different possible actions through intuition. The debate about the ‘dual process theories’ takes up this idea and postulates two different ways to evaluate decision possibilities: A logical-analytical path and an intuitive (Magrabi and Bach, 2013). Predominantly, it is assumed that the logical-analytical path is related to rationality and therefore the path to strive for in rational decision-making. However, in science it has been shown that bounded rationality is to be assumed. Therefore, the question of the extent to which emotions or feelings, and in this context also intuitions, are rational has come to the fore (De Sousa, 1987; Evans and Cruse, 2004). 

In this paper, intuitions are considered as a feeling with intentionality: Intuitions always refer to an appropriate environment and are directed toward a decision that results in an action. With Damásio (1994, 2013) it can be shown that an intuition is a feeling that excels in acting as a cue or signal. With the assumption of an ecological rationality (Gigerenzer, Todd and ABC Research Group, 1999; Todd and Gigerenzer, 2012; Todd and Brighton, 2016), it can be shown that intuitive decisions are based on experiential knowledge and implicit structure recognition (Magrabi and Bach, 2013). Accordingly, with the approach of an ecological rationality it can be shown that an intuitive decision is rational in the sense that a person interacts quickly and energy-efficiently successfully adapted with his or her environment and thereby identifies the individual optimal action for him- or herself. This may then be recognized as a "gut feeling" or "intuition". Two challenges will be outlined explained in this paper: The influence of a negative environment on intuitive decisions, and the confusion of an intuition with an emotion or other feeling.


Berne, E. (2005). Transaktionsanalyse der Intuition. Ein Beitrag der Ich-Psychologie. Junfermann.

Brandes, R., Lang, F., & Schmidt, R. F. (2019). Physiologie des Menschen. Mit Pathophysiologie. Springer.

Budnik, C. (2016). Überlegen und Entscheiden. In M. Kühler, M. Rüther (Eds.), Handbuch Handlungstheorie (pp. 169-176). Metzler.

Damásio, A. R. (1994). Descartes’ Irrtum. Fühlen, Denken und das menschliche Gehirn (pp. 227-297). List.

Damásio, A. R. (2013). Das Leuchten der Neuronen. Innenleben. Ein Heft über Gefühle, III.

De Sousa, R. (1987). The Rationality of Emotion. The MIT Press.

Ekman, P. (1988). Gesichtsausdruck und Gefühl. 20 Jahre Forschung von Paul Ekman. Junfermann.

Engelen, E.-M. (2010). Emotion und Intuition. Zwei ungleiche Geschwister. In R. Rosenzweig (Ed.), Geistesblitz und Neuronendonner. Intuition, Kreativität und Phantasie (pp. 121-137). Mentis.

Evans, D. & Cruse, P. (2004). Emotion, Evolution, and Rationality. Oxford University Press.

Fenkart, P. S. (2018). Chefsache Intuition. Besser managen, beurteilen und entscheiden durch intuitive Kompetenz. Springer.

Gallagher, S. (2013). A pattern theory of self. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 7(443), 1-7.

Gigerenzer, G, Todd, R., & ABC Research Group (1999). Simple heuristics that make us smart. Oxford University Press.

Gigerenzer, G. (2007). Gut Feelings. The intelligence of the unconscious. Viking Penguin.

Gigerenzer, G. (2018). Rationales Entscheiden unter Ungewissheit ≠ Rationales Entscheiden unter Risiko. In B. Fleischer, R. Lauterbach & K. Pawlik (Eds.), Rationale Entscheidungen unter Unsicherheit (pp. 1-14). De Gruyter.

Hardy, J. (2008). Entscheidung. In P. Prechtl, F.-P. Borkard, Metzler Lexikon Philosophie. Begriffe und Definitionen. Metzler.

Huth, A. G., Lee, T., Nishimoto, S., Bilenko, N. Y., Vu, A. T., & Gallant, J. L. (2016). Decoding the Semantic Content of Natural Movies from Human Brain Activity. Front. Syst. Neurosci., 10, 81.

Inzlicht, M. & Kang, S. K. (2010). Stereotype threat spillover: How coping with threats to social identity affects aggression, eating, decision making, and attention. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99(3), 467-481.

Kobusch, T. (1976). Intuitionen. In J. Ritter & J., K. Gründer (Eds.), Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie (vol. 4, pp. 524-540). Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

Kuhnle, C. (2011). The benefit of intuition in learning situations. In M. Sinclair (Ed.), Handbook of Intuition Research (pp. 227-236). Edward Elgar.

Langkau, J. (2019). Intuitionen. In M. Grajner & G. Melchior (Eds.), Handbuch Erkenntnistheorie (pp. 152-158). Metzler.

Leyh, A. (2011). Der Frontallappen. In A. Leyh (Ed.),

Magrabi, A. & Bach, J. (2013). Entscheidungsfindung. In A. Stephan & S. Walter (Eds.), Handbuch Kognitionswissenschaften (pp. 274-289). Metzler.

Newen, A. & Welpinghus, A., Juckel, G. (2015). Emotion Recognition as Pattern Recognition: The Relevance of Perception. Mind & Language, 30(2), 187-208.

Nishimoto, S., Vu, A. T., Naselaris, T., Benjamini, Y., Yu, B., & Gallant, J. L. (2011). Reconstructing Visual Experiences from Brain Activity Evoked by Natural Movies. Current Biology, 21(19), 1641-1646.

Osterath, B. (2018). Bewusste Gefühle. In A. Leyh (Ed.),

Prinz, J. (2005). Are emotions feelings? Journal of Consciousness Studies, 12, 9-25.

Pust, J. (2017). Intuition. In Zalta, E. N., The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2019 Edition).

Robins, S. (2017). Memory Traces. In S. Bernecker, K. Michaelian (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Memory (pp. 76-87). Routledge.

Tonegawa, S., Liu, X., Ramirez, S., & Redondo, R. (2015). Perspective. Memory Engram Cells Have Come of Age. Neuron, 87(5), 918-931.

Todd, P. M. & Gigerenzer, G. (2012). What is ecological rationality. In P. M., Todd & G. Gigerenzer, The ABC Research Group (Eds.), Ecological Rationality. Intelligence in the World (pp. 3-30). Oxford University Press.

Todd, P. M. & Brighton, H. (2016). Building the Theory of Ecological Rationality. Minds & Machines 26, 9-30.

Werning, M. (2020). Predicting the Past from Minimal Traces: Episodic Memory and its Distinction from Imagination and Preservation. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 11, 301-333.

Wöhler, K. (1972). Entscheidungstheorie. In J. Ritter, K. Gründer (Eds.), Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie (vol. 2, pp. 544-547). Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

Zinck, A. & Newen, A. (2008). Classifying Emotions: A Developmental Account. Synthese, 161(1), 1-25.




How to Cite

Prußeit, T. (2024). Intuitions and Ecological Rationality. Revista De Humanidades De Valparaíso, (24), 145–162.

Similar Articles

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.