Difference Between Instinct and Intuition

Instinct vs Intuition

Although the words, intuition and instinct appear identical to most people, these two do not refer to the same thing as there is a difference between them in their meanings. Intuition is our ability to know something without reasoning. It is when we feel as if we know what is about to happen or what to do without having any real facts. But, instinct is something different from intuition. It is an inborn tendency. Instinct is our natural reaction; it occurs without even thinking. It is more an ability, unlike intuition. This is the main difference between intuition and instinct. Through this article, let us examine the difference between intuition and instinct.

What is Intuition?

Intuition is the ability to understand or know something without conscious reasoning. It is similar to an insight that we have regarding a matter. For instance, have you felt as if something is not right, or that something bad is about to happen without having any concrete facts? This is due to our intuition. We do not have real facts or a rational for our feeling, but we feel as if it is correct.

When intuition comes to play, we do not analyze the situation. We also do not weigh the pros and cons, we just know. For instance, before arriving at a decision, people approach it in different angels. They try to work out the best manner of doing something, verify the advantages and disadvantages. However, with intuition, one does not have sufficient information to rationalize his decision, or thought. It is as if the individual can see beyond what is presented.

Difference Between Instinct and Intuition

Intuition is the ability to know something without conscious reasoning.

What is Instinct?

Instinct refers to an inborn tendency. It is a natural ability. Instinct is not something that we have learned, but it is a natural response. For instance, imagine you see a vehicle coming at high speed towards you. You would naturally jump out of the way. In such a situation, you hardly get sufficient time to think, but you respond automatically. This is because of our instinct.

Unlike intuition that is a thought, instinct is most a behavior or else an action. For instance, if a ball comes in your direction, you instinctively attempt to either catch it or else move away so that it will not hit you. You do not have time to think whether you should move away or catch the ball. Within seconds, you act on it. In psychology, we speak of two concepts of flight and fight mode. Flight is when the individual moves away from the situation; fight is when the individual faces the situation, or else in this case catch the ball. This occurs in a very short period.

As you can see, intuition is different to instinct. It is a thought and not an automatic response or action.

 Instinct vs Intuition

Jumping away from a fast moving ball is instinct

What is the difference between Instinct and Intuition?

Definitions of Instinct and Intuition:

Intuition: Intuition is the ability to understand or know something without conscious reasoning.

Instinct: Instinct refers to an inborn tendency.

Instinct vs Intuition:

Thought and Reaction:

Intuition: Intuition is not a reaction; it is an insight or a thought.

Instinct: Instinct is a natural reaction, not a thought; you respond automatically to a situation, without even having time to think.


Intuition: Intuition is when the individual sees something beyond what is presented.

Instinct: You cannot see the above quality in instinct.


Intuition: In intuition, the individual arrives at a decision without facts.

Instinct: In instinct, the individual responds automatically to facts/situation.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Woman via Pexels (Public Domain)
  2. Soccer ball by Pumbaa80 (CC BY-SA 3.0)