What’s the Difference Between Instinct and Intuition?

Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they are quite different phenomena. While they may share some similar traits, instinct and intuition are totally separate experiences. To understand the key differences between instinct and intuition, keep reading.

What is Instinct?

Have you ever watched a wild animal go about its daily tasks and wonder what drives them? Well, the answer is instinct. Humans have instincts just as most other mammals in the wild do. Instinct is based on our unconscious reaction to stimuli. The fight-or-flight reaction is a great model of instinct.

For example, when someone sees a coyote in their backyard, they’ll instinctively make one of two choices: run away and lock themselves indoors or try to shoo away the animal by intimidation or violence. This is an example of our instinctual drive to fight back or flee in the face of danger.

Instinct has commonalities across humans. Although we may respond slightly differently to certain stimuli, we are quite the same. Instinct drives our ability to survive and reproduce. Essentially, humans have three main instincts: self-protection, sexual reproduction, and social instinct.

These subconscious drives have allowed humans to prosper and evade danger for ages. We do not usually recognize our instinctual behavior, as it is a sublime and subconscious part of us.

What is Intuition?

Intuition is different from instinct. Intuition is a product of someone’s personal experiences, observations, and learning. That’s why some people are clairvoyant while others never see seemingly imminent events coming.

Intuition is regarded as the ability to know something without logical evidence. It’s sometimes referred to as a “sixth sense”. Levels of intuition can vary based on the individual.

No matter how good your intuition is, it’s never 100% reliable, unlike instinct. Decisions made on intuition alone should be carefully examined. Intuition is created through logical reasoning, so everyone’s intuitive hunches will be quite different, according to their unique experiences.

There is plenty of inner work one can do to connect more deeply with their intuition, or “gut feelings”, to start living more aligned with their deepest self. Essentially, your intuition is what your mind knows to be true from years of experience and observation, but it takes some digging to follow why you are getting specific feelings.


Instinct is something every animal has, including humans. Instinct is the innate and subconscious reactions we have to certain stimuli to self-protect and reproduce. Intuition is a more mystical concept. Someone’s intuition is usually built on past experiences. The brain tracks patterns and can use these in the future to “predict” what will happen next, therefore creating intuitive thought. For more information contact Mel Doerr!

Mel Doerr

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Mel Doerr

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