My Instinctive Judgment Theory: Strangers, Instincts & Relationships

There is something particularly special about the fact that wherever we go, regardless of the nationality of people we see around us, we always kind of know who to trust in an instant–by looking at their faces, the way they act, what they hold, what they do, even if we don’t hear them speak. Perhaps, I’m referring to what we usually call instinct. When travelling alone waiting for the boarding gates to open in an airport for instance, we scan the waiting area before settling in a vacant seat. Apart from being vacant, we also look for the area where we find people we feel we can trust most. Without talking to them, we kind of already know we’re relatively safer sitting closer to them than others.

This morning, on my solo flight to Manila, I realised how this strange subconscious thinking process works. A tall guy wearing sunglasses, a cap and a hoodie sat on the benches directly facing mine and watched me the whole time I was eating my McDonald’s takeaway. I thought it a bit odd but judged it normal enough not to create panic or move to another seat. Besides, I was surrounded by others I would generally trust (again, by my instinct’s judgment). And then right before boarding, when I was standing up to proceed to the gate, he suddenly came to me (I didn’t see from where cause he was not on the seat in front of me the last time I glanced that way) and said “Excuse me, which province are you from?” I turned my face and said “Sorry”. He repeated the question and I answered “sorry” one more time. He said “What? Why? Don’t you understand what I’m saying?” I said, “No, I’m sorry I’m not from the province.” I was completely standing up by this time with my backpack securely on my shoulders. He said, “Oh, where are you from then?” I said “I’m not from the province, I’m from the city.” I was already walking away while talking. And then he asked, “Which one?” and I walked hurriedly passed behind him and said “I’m sorry.”

The whole time inside my head, I was just telling myself “Do not speak to strangers. Do not speak to strangers.” And I didn’t look back, I hurried to the gates where I was caught up in the queue when I heard two old ladies talking from behind me, they were asking each other if they were supposed to queue or wait since they’ll be seated on the sixth row. I said, “They said rows 30 up should fall in line first but I think you should be fine. They’d probably let you in anyway.” We started chatting then and up till we boarded the plane. I even nicely said goodbye when they took their front row seats.

While I was walking to my seat towards the back of the plane, I realised they asked me some more personal questions than the tall guy actually did but I comfortably answered all of them. They also shared some information about themselves and I learned that they are US citizens who travelled to Sydney and now off to Manila for vacation with two other friends who were in wheelchairs and therefore, will have to board last. I wasn’t the only one too trusting, they also were, considering the vulnerability of their pack. They were really lovely, reminded me of my late grandmother who raised me up from childhood.

I don’t think what they were wearing were fancier clothes than the tall guy. They probably even hold the same type of passport and came from the same country. In the 21st century for a woman my age, who would turn away from a rich-rapper-looking guy to talk to some old grannies?

But our instincts just know who to trust. Is that being bad, perhaps judgmental? If one is travelling alone, is  being selective with who you talk to considered bad? Is being rude justified? How do we know when to be friendly and when to be on our guards?

I could probably do some analysing here— think of all possible factors affecting our instantaneous level of trust, draft a model and then run the regression after collecting data from a good number of sample. It would be an interesting economic research paper. And then we’ll see which factor has the strongest correlation to our trust level of a stranger. But I can only do this with some data—a survey; questionnaires, interviews of some random people of different backgrounds who have travelled alone. More interestingly, I could explore deeper and try to find out which instinctive judgments made have been strongly, directly proportional to the actual personality of the strangers judged—this one would require more than a  survey but a full experiment. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to do either of these. So I’ll just resort to trusting my instinct and common sense being particularly careful in situations like this.

In any case, my guess is that the results of such study will show that a person’s instinctive judgment would prove to increase reliability in direct proportion with age. I’m saying the younger we are, the more likely we are to misjudge people. There may be outliers of course, the influencing factor being experiences with people and how much one’s seen the world in general. That being said, I could probably conclude my research saying a person’s level of maturity, shaped by his/her experiences in life would show the strongest correlation value between his/her instinctive judgment  of and the actual facts about a stranger.

This would incidentally explain how unwise our relationship choices were when we were younger and how many wrong choices we’ve taken when it comes to love. But then again, once the right level of maturity is reached, our instinctive judgment of a person improves. By this time, we may have already trained our instincts well and have increased the precision of its judgments and their correlation value with the truth. We probably would look less on the person’s physical appearance and begin to see right through him/her at the first word he/she utters.

A lot of us, young people rely on what we’ve heard somewhere that once you see the person who’s the one for you, it would only take a moment. You’ll just know he or she is the one the first time you meet him/her. That probably may be overly romanticising it. I think it’s true for some but more rationally put, they get caught up in that one right moment the first time they meet the other person because they talked and they found out that they just click and they end up being actually right for each other. These are the ones who have probably met when they’re level of maturity and instinct’s training were ripe and ready. So when their subconscious told their conscious mind “Yes, this person seems to be perfect for me and I can entrust him/her with my vulnerable side,”  this instinctive judgment was as close to reality as possible that the risk of being wrong is negligible. They would then interpret this as falling in-love. The subconscious and its instinctive judgment, we then refer to as “our hearts”. Thus, we say the heart knows when it’s found its home. Although, thinking about it—the subconscious gets inputs uploaded to the brain by the conscious, so the two are still connected. So it’s actually our mind through this process, not our hearts, that “fall in-love”.

Yet for some people, love-at-first-sight is not the case. They are those who have long known each other for a long time but never quite realised any sooner that they were a good match and that they can live and make each other happy for a lifetime. These people would seem matured from the outside but remains unaware that their instincts’ training have not been enough. So they have often misjudged the one that is actually perfect for them as being just one of the other strangers—just like everybody else. It would take some time; and for others, some heartbreaks; before their instincts come to full maturity enough to see that the once-friend-zoned is actually the ONE.

And then there are those who grow old in age, face too many heartbreaks, make the same instinctive misjudgments again and again and still keep their instincts immature—keep spitting out the same kind of misjudgments leading them in cycles. I would like to believe that there is nothing in their conscious mind that wills this, everybody wants his/her own piece of happiness. I think there are just too many factors messing up with the subconscious that the natural process of maturity of the instinct and growth of that subconscious superpower to see through people is halted and this disorder goes on for an uncertain length of time. Sadly, some grow old and die never fixing such disorder, living with a malfunctioning instinctive judgment all their lives. But then there are a few lucky ones of this type who find someone with matured instincts, who can tell that the person are their match even as they can see exactly how messed up he/she is. These people get the chance not all people can experience in their lifetimes—to sort out another person who has a malfunctioning subconscious and a persistent inability to mature and see beyond strangers and people. We all have the ability to help repair another person with such disorder, but not everyone gets to try his/her hand on it. These cases usually make for the most unique and dramatic love stories.

Of course, these are all just theories inside my head with no way of me proving them at the moment. I’m just sorting out my judgments of people inside my head, wondering whether I am writing this with a matured instinct or not. You of course, dear reader, are free to hold on to the  most famous theory of falling in-love, finding the one and experiencing magic in moments.

It’s not of much use to ponder on this for now. In the meantime, I’m sleeping in the plane just about now and will publish this as the first WordPress post I’ll ever do from my hometown in a few more hours.


With all the “love” from 41,000 miles above the ground,
Featured photo from Airport Love Sport Retailer TV Commercial Ad as seen in youtube


Finally, a Graduate!

Two weeks after the course, I decided to revisit my Blogging 201 notes and check if I’ve actually completed all of my requirements to claim I finally graduated. Offhand, I can already say that I’ve done so much better this time than how I fared with Blogging 101. I had a much stronger commitment. From flunking 101 to acing 201, I think I deserve a pat on the back (patting myself now), for I took 201 at a time nearer my first CPA exam, so that’s a real, major challenge (and yes, still very much employed full-time, working my ass off especially during month-ends). The good thing about 201 is it ran only for two weeks. So here’s a quick review of the course’s assignments for the first week and the corresponding links to my notes.

1. Setting Goals – Aim High, Hit High

2. Auditing Your Brand – A Closer Look at Those Lemons

3. Getting Read All Over – So How Do I Look?

4. Giving ‘Em What They Want, I – Chasing Numbers, Catching Love

5. Driving Traffic to Your Archives – My Passion is Equal to the Task

For ease of reference, I’ve compiled all of these notes under one category conveniently sitting on my sidebar: My BloggingU Notes. See, I’ve completed all of them with flying colours! But then moving on to the second week’s task is where I had some problems. I felt like the bigger tasks were all lumped into this heavier final week of the course. I should have done each of them on the day they were given out, which was what I promised myself when I wrote down my goals. But I decided to break that self-imposed rule, in favour of quality. I did choose to take my time. So here’s an update of week 2’s assignments:

6. Digging Into Social Networks – This I’ve done. I decided that for a life blog; Facebook, Instagram and Twitter would be the most fitting platforms.

6.1 Instagram: I checked my Instagram account and found it may be in tune and interesting enough for the blog. I need this especially for sharing photos in keeping with the “A Migrant’s Journey” category. I found I’ve already been posting photos documenting the things I’m experiencing in Sydney so I did not need to create a separate account. Occasionally, I also post photos reflecting God, Love and Career which are all aligned with the blog’s theme. Plus, I have one username for both WP and Instagram, so it was pretty easy to link the two accounts.

6.2 Twitter: I used to have a Twitter account which was under the username @sassycare, as in my WP and Instagram. However, i deleted it years ago. I thought I was not the popular type, enough to have people following what I have to say. I felt it was more for celebrities or at least like-minded people who have things to say that are worth being talked about in talk shows or news programs. My lack of confidence was a deterrent for me to continue on my twitter life. But years after, Flavored Lemons happened and I have a whole new reason to tweet. After all, I have thoughts I deem worthy to publish in a blog, so maybe Twitter can accommodate me this time? I have really few followers at the moment but that doesn’t bother me. My goal is to spread the word about articles I write and to reach people, who are always destined to be my audience but just haven’t found their way to the site yet. So after twenty thousand years of deleting @sassycare from tweetworld, I finally created the account @flavoredlemons and just like that, I found myself on Twitter again.

6.3 Facebook: I created a page for Flavored Lemons. It’s quick and easy to manage. I did inform my friends about it, they are all probably placing me into their “friendship over” zone because I asked them to check out a personal blog page. How uncool can I be? But I just wanted them to know I’m into something–writing articles about my life from which they probably can pick some lessons from. I wish they realise that for most of my posts their situations and stories are the inspiration behind. I always imagine my audience to be my friends. I just wish they one day they’ll appreciate my writing–especially those articles i wrote with them in mind.

7. Making the Most of Events – I’ve checked out available community events in WordPress and found this one which particularly caught my interest: Blacklight Candelabra. They post writing challenges once a week, every Monday. I participated on two of them so far and enjoyed the experience so much. I wrote my first poem and three haikus for the two challenges and am so looking forward to what future challenges may unleash from the creative corners of my mind.

8. Creating an Online Hub – This one took the most time to finish. I finally can say that after two weeks, the blog is now a hub to a network of social media accounts I mentioned in assignment #6. I have now a Social Media section on my sidebar, right below the menu. Simply click the icons to like or follow Flavored Lemons.

9. Buddying Up – I have a really exciting project that is in response to this assignment. I still don’t have it at the moment but already started working on it. Hopefully, I can tell you about it in a week’s time.

10. Giving ‘Em What They Want, II – Taking feedback from readers to another level, I found this one really worth a try. It wasn’t so hard at all. I have just recently added the “Get in touch with us” corner on the sidebar, and I really do hope to get in touch with all of you on a more personal level using this feature.

So there! All assignments in (almost, with only one as work-in-progress). After taking Blogging 201, I could say I am now happier with my blog, the direction it is going and how the brand has been built so far. I am sure it will still evolve and continuously grow as my blogging life continues. I hope you’ll all stick around and grow with me.

Thank you for being so supportive to Flavored Lemons from the start to this point; special mention to my Blogging 201 classmates who have likewise successfully completed the course, congratulations to us! Here’s to more juicing and squeezing out of the best things life has to offer.


Featured photo is taken from