Your sixth sense can help you sniff out a liar or make a tough decision—but there are certain scenarios when you just shouldn't trust your gut

By Mirel Ketchiff
Updated: January 28, 2015
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For the most part, science supports trusting your gut. Research has shown that your intuition can help you spot a liar, predict the long-term success of your relationships, make a tough decision, and more. But it isn't always infallible. In these four cases, you may want to take a second thought before making a move.

When You're Making a Simple Choice

Seems counterintuitive (no pun intended), but it's true. The conscious mind can focus on just a few factors at once, report researchers in the journal Science. So when a decision is fairly straightforward (like which spatula to buy at the store), your head is great at helping you weigh the pros and cons. But spending too much time mulling over more complex choices (like which car to buy), hinders your ability to land on the best option. (These tips can also make you a Better Decision Maker.)

When You're Too Cold

Think your new co-worker seemed frosty? Grab a sweater (or put down your iced drink) and reconsider. Yale University researchers found that cool temps cloud your ability to trust and connect with others, which may throw off the way you read a situation or a just-met acquaintance.

When You're Judging Someone's Talents

Next time you're interviewing a new babysitter or work hire, don't trust your first impression of her. A recent study in the journal Judgment and Decision Making found that interviewers' opinions are easily swayed by extraneous information, so even if someone really wows you, it may be less about her abilities than a throwaway comment you found amusing. Before choosing, spend some time reviewing the person's résumé, references, and other relevant background info. (What Kind of First Impression Are You Making?)

When You're Anxious

"Stress can increase mental chatter and make it harder to become still and tune into your gut," says Judith Orloff, M.D., an assistant clinical professor psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine and author of Second Sight. In fact, she suggests being wary about any gut instinct that is attached to a strong emotion-be it fear, tension, or even love. "Accurate intuitions are either neutral or compassionate." (Here are 5 Ways to Stop Stress in Under 5 Minutes.)

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