Listen to your intuition when you're...
Doing something you're experienced in. Intuition is really learned expertise in disguise. So if you've played tennis your whole life, go with your instinct on the court instead of thinking through each stroke.
Considering getting a second opinion. "Listening to your body's signals can help prevent bigger health problems," says Judith Orloff, MD, a psychiatrist at UCLA and author of Second Sight. If your doctor dismisses a nagging symptom as "nothing serious" but you're still convinced there's something wrong—go with your hunch.
Shopping for a home. Don't just endlessly analyze the financials; listen to your gut. Studies have found that purchasers are more satisfied with a big-budget item when the decision is made incorporating unconscious thought rather than by conscious deliberation alone.
Let your head decide when you're...
Sniffing out a lie. "There are no easily detectable signs that indicate lying, so even if you're adept at reading people, you can't infer dishonesty based on the other person's gestures or behavior," says David Myers, PhD, author of Intuition: Its Powers and Perils.
Hiring someone for a job. If there's a contest between your positive gut feeling and what work samples and recommendations tell you, forget your gut. "Your intuition may be based on something superficial—like whether the candidate reminds you of a close friend—that has nothing to do with performance," says Myers. — Lauren Dzubow
From the July 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.