Trust your feelings

written by Terry Robson


Do you trust your feelings? If you don’t, why don’t you? Is it because you think that feelings are perhaps a bit too subjective to be relied upon? If you think that way even a little there is some new research that might just change your mind.

The new research first of all involved the researchers conducting a series of tests to establish how much each individual involved relied on, or trusted, their feelings. This study began in 2008 and the subjects were asked to predict future outcomes across a range of fields that included: whether Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama would be Democratic presidential nominee, the box-office success of some movies, the einner of American Idol, movements of the Dow Jones Index, the winner of the college football championship, and even the weather.

Across all of these fields people with a high trust in their feelings were more likely to predict the correct outcome than those with low levels of trust in their feelings.

People with high trust in their feelings predicted Obama to win 72 per cent of the time compared to 64 per cent among those with low trust; an impressive difference given the closeness of the contest. For American Idol, those with high trust picked the winner 41 per cent of the time compared to 24 per cent in the low trust group. In predicting movements in the stock market Dow Jones Index those with high trust were 25 per cent more accurate than those with low trust in their feelings.

This comes to what is called the “emotional oracle” effect. People who trust their feelings look at the world and the future through a “privileged window”. This amounts to what you feel as “right” or “wrong” is a summary of all the information that you have acquired both consciously and unconsciously about the world around you. This cumulative knowledge is summarised in your “feelings” which is why those feelings allow you to make better predictions than more analytical reasoning. So by trusting your feelings you allow yourself to look at the world through your own “privileged window”.

All of which just goes to show that all you need to know to live well came from the lips of Obi-Wan Kenobi (from Star Wars should you be a unaware and therefore, incidentally, a heathen). It was Obi-Wan (or “Old Ben” as intimates like to call him) who advised, “Luke, trust your feelings.” Now that this piece of Obi-Wan-ism is supported without doubt by scientific research perhaps the rest of his teachings will also be embraced and we can all embrace “The Force” as “an energy field created by all living things that surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.” Perhaps too we will cease discrimination against large hairy individuals with a speech impediment and feel comfortable to wear bath robes during mortal combat. It is of course a travesty that Obi-Wan was left out of the recent WellBeing Spiritual Masters publication but in light of this new supportive evidence surely he will get a run in the second edition. May the Force be with you.

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Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the editor-in-chief of WellBeing.