Last minute shopping can cause a lot of stress, especially when you have no idea what to buy for that special someone. A new research says that people can be better off trusting their intuition rather than thinking rationally during the last-minute shopping frenzy.

According to Professor Michael G. Pratt from Boston College, an expert in organizational psychology, intuition can help people make fast and effective decisions. This is especially true if the person has expertise in the particular subject.

"We often ask ourselves, 'What does that special someone want for Christmas?' Maybe the better question to ask is 'What do I know about this person?" said Pratt, a professor in the Carroll School of Management. "The chances are you know a lot. You know a lot about your parents and your children, and your close friends. What we've found is that kind of deep expertise helps to support decisions we make when we trust our gut."

Researchers say that analytical thinking breaks the problem into bits and then finds a solution. But, intuition works by looking at the larger picture and this helps when a person has to make quick decisions if something is good or bad, ugly or beautiful, etc.

"Similarly, for gift buying, there is not 'one right answer' as with a math problem. It is a judgment call," said Pratt.

Researchers conducted experiments to test people's decision making abilities when asked to think intuitively and when they are asked to think analytically. In one experiment, participants were asked to judge whether or not a designer bag was real. Some participants were asked to come up with a quick answer, forcing them to think analytically, while the others were given time to think about the problem. Researchers found that people who owned designer bags and knew about brands could make quick decisions based on intuition alone.

"If you're looking at those shiny new winter shovels for your spouse, ask yourself, 'Is this right or wrong?' and trust your gut. You'll be well served by your intuition. It's likely that your spouse doesn't want a shovel and you don't want to be the one who gives that gift," said Pratt.

The study is published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.