Researchers at University College London suggested that trusting our instincts and acting immediately would lead us to the right answer more often than if we had time to think over a decision.

The study participants were divided into two groups: those who had to answer right away and those who were given time to think. Both groups had the same task-to pick the odd one out on a screen of more than 650 identical symbols.

One would think that those who had time to think would score better. However, the participants who only had a second to answer had 95% accuracy rate while those who studied the images had an accuracy rate of 70%.

Conscious thinking seems to override subconscious and make people not trust their instincts. When the conscious and subconscious are in conflict, the higher-level functions i.e. the conscious mind usually silence the instincts and reasoning prevails.

The researchers tracked the volunteers’ eye movements in the study. They found that random darting of the eye is a subconscious scanning technique that allows us to pick the right thing. As soon as the eyes land on the target, the conscious takes over and starts examining.

In order for the conscious brain to identify the target, the target needs to be distinctive enough. Otherwise, the conscious brain fails where the unconscious may not.