Intelligence

No discussion of individual dif ferences in cognition and information processing would be complete without at least some mention of intelligence. Intelligence has been define in many ways, and there may be many dif ferent kinds of intelligence. One definition o intelligence is associated with educational attainment, how much knowledge a person has acquired, relative to others in his or her age cohort. This is an achievement view of intelligence. Other definitions view intelligence less as the product of education an more as an ability to become educated, as the ability or aptitude to learn. This is the aptitude view of intelligence. Traditional measures of intelligence—so-called IQ tests—have been often used and interpreted as aptitude measures. For much of the past century, IQ tests were used to predict school performance and to select persons for educational opportunities. They are still used in this fashion today . For example, one study on college under graduates found that general intelligence predicted 16 percent of the variability in grades, which translates into a correlation of about .40 between IQ and grades. Interestingly , need for achievement, which we discussed in Chapter 1 1, accounted for 1 1 percent of the variability in grades, beyond the variability accounted for by IQ (Lounsbuiy , Sundstrom, Loveland, & Gibson, 2003).

Early in the study of intelligence, most psychologists thought of this characteristic in traitlike terms, as a property of the individual. And individuals were thought to differ from each other in amount, in how much intelligence they possessed. Moreover, intelligence was thought of as a single broad factor—often called g for general intelligence. As tests were developed, however , researchers began to identify separate abilities—such as verbal ability, memory ability, perceptual ability, and arithmetic ability. The Scholastic Aptitude Test, or SAT, is one example that most college students are familiar with because they have taken this test. The SAT gives two scores— a verbal score and a mathematical score—and is an example of two dif ferentiated kinds of intelligence. As the name implies, many believe the SAT is an aptitude measure, that it measures the ability to learn and acquire new information. However , the SAT contains questions that only persons already with an education can answer and, so, is really, some argue, an achievement test. Nevertheless, the SA T predicts college grade-point average and, so, is useful in selecting persons who are likely to do well in higher education settings.

Other intelligence tests yield even more than two scores. For example, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children—Revised (revised in 1991, originally published by Wechsler, 1949) yields 1 1 subtest scores, 6 of which require or depend on verbal ability and 5 of which are nonverbal, such as finding missing elements in picture and assembling a puzzle. Also, the test yields 2 broad scores to represent verbal and performance intelligence. Psychologists use the multiple scores to evaluate a person's strengths and weaknesses, as well as to understand how the individual uniquely approaches and solves problems.

A widely accepted definition of intelligence, proposed by Gardner (1983), is tha it is the application of cognitive skill and knowledge to solve problems, learn, and achieve goals that are valued by the individual and the culture. With intelligence defined this broadl , it is obvious that there are many kinds of intelligence, perhaps several more beyond the traditional verbal, mathematical, and performance distinctions. Howard Gardner has proposed a theory of multiple intelligences, which includes seven forms, such as interpersonal intelligence (social skills, ability to communicate and get along with others) and intrapersonal intelligence (insight into oneself, one' s emotions, and one' s motives). Gardner also includes kinesthetic intelligence—describing the abilities of athletes, dancers, and acrobats—and musical intelligence (Gardner, 1999). Other experts are adding to the growing list of forms of intelligence, such as the concept of emotional intelligence, proposed by psychologists Peter Salovey and Jack Mayer (1990) and popularized by journalist Dan Goleman (1995). The concept of emotional intelligence is receiving a great deal of attention from researchers (see Zeidner, Matthews, Roberts, & MacCann, 2003, for a review).

Exercise

The concept of emotional intelligence has been proposed to explain why some people with a lot of academic intelligence do not appear to have a lot of practical intelligence, people skills, or what might be called street smarts. Goleman (1995), in his highly readable book Emotional Intelligence, presents many cases of people who have high levels of traditional intelligence yet fail in various areas of their lives, such as in relationships. Goleman also reviews the psychological literature and comes to the conclusion that traditional measures of intelligence, although predicting school performance fairly well, actually do a rather poor job of predicting later life outcomes, such as occupational attainment, salary, professional status, and quality of marriage (e.g., Vaillant, 1977). Emotional intelligence, Goleman argues, is more strongly predictive of these life outcomes.

Emotional intelligence is proposed as a set of five specific abilities:

• Awareness of one's own feelings and bodily signals and an ability to identify one's own emotions and to make distinctions (such as realizing the fear that lies behind anger)

• Ability to manage and regulate emotions, especially negative emotions, and to manage stress

• Control of one's impulses—directing one's attention and effort, delaying gratification, and staying on task toward goals

• Ability to decode the social and emotional cues of others, to listen, and to take the perspective of others (empathy)

• Leadership, the ability to influence and guide others without their becoming angry or resentful, the ability to elicit cooperation, and skill in negotiation and conflict resolution

It is easy to see how these skills and abilities relate to positive life outcomes and how they are so different from traditional concepts of intelligence, such as scholastic achievement and scholastic ability. Can you think of someone you know who is very high on scholastic ability yet deficient in one or more of the aspects of emotional intelligence? Such a person might be successful in school yet have problems in other areas of life, such as making friends or becoming independent from his or her family. Alternatively, can you think of someone you know who is high on emotional intelligence yet low on scholastic ability?

Gardner's concept of multiple intelligences is controversial. Some intelligence researchers feel that these separate abilities are correlated enough with each other (implying that they tend to co-occur in the same persons) to justify thinking of intelligence as g, a general factor (e.g., Hernstein & Murray, 1994; Petrill, 2002; Rammsayer & Brandler , 2002). Other experts acknowledge a few broad distinctions, such as the verbal and mathematical intelligences that are so much a part of school systems in the United States. Other experts, including many educators, are examining the implications of the multiple intelligences notion. Some schools are making curriculum changes designed to develop and strengthen various forms of intelligence in their students. For example, some schools are teaching units in emotional intelligence. Other schools of fer classes for those high on nonverbal intelligence. Other schools are fostering character education, which can be thought of as a form of civic intelligence. These modern educational ef forts are the direct outcomes of research being conducted by personality psychologists exploring the basic nature of intelligence.

We cannot leave the concept of intelligence without looking at the cultural context of this construct. What is defined as "intelligent behavior will obviously differ across cultures. For example, among the people who live on the islands of Micronesia, the ability to navigate the ocean and other maritime skills are considered superior forms of intelligence. Among Eskimos who hunt along the shores in their kayaks, the ability to develop a cognitive map of the complex shoreline in Alaska is a valued ability . Many psychologists define culture, in part, as the share notions about what counts as ef ficient problem solving ( ertsch & Kanner, 1992). These skills then become part of the way successful people think in that culture. Western cultures, for example, emphasize verbal skills, both written and oral, as well as the mathematical and spatial skills necessary in a technologically advanced culture. Other cultures, however , might guide their members to develop dif ferent problem-solving skills, such as developing a sense of direction or a knowledge of animal behavior.

Because of these considerations, we should always view intelligence as comprised of the skills valued in a particular culture. However , Western culture—along with its economic, social, and political systems—is proliferating into countries around the world. Will the world become a monoculture? If so, will there become one form of intelligence, which is universally valued? Or will cultures maintain separate identities and define di ferences in what counts as intelligent behavior? For example, currently most people in Europe speak more than one language, and many speak three or more, because of the problem-solving advantage a multilingual person has in Europe. Many Europeans consider Americans to be linguistically challenged or, less charitably, verbally unintelligent because most Americans know only one language. Just try traveling in countries shielded from Western influence, suc as formerly communist countries, and you will experience how it feels to be verbally unintelligent.

A new variable in intelligence research is called inspection time, which refers to the time it takes a person to make a simple discrimination between two displayed objects. For example, two lines appear on a computer screen and the subject' s task is to say which one is longer . The time it takes the subject to inspect the two lines, measured in milliseconds (thousandths of a second), before making the discrimination is the measure of inspection time. This variable is highly related to standard measures of general intelligence (Osmon & Jackson, 2002). Another similar measure is the ability to discriminate auditory intervals that dif fer only in the range of a few milliseconds, which also is related to general intelligence (Rammsayer & Brandler , 2002). Findings such as these suggest that brain mechanisms specifically involved i discriminations of extremely brief time intervals represent a sensitive indicator of general intelligence.

There are many debates about intelligence that are beyond the scope of an introductory personality text. If you are interested, you can go to advanced sources, such as the journal Intelligence, or to books, such as Neisser' s (1998) or Hernstein and Murray's controversial The Bell Curve (1994) and the direct responses to the controversy created by The Bell Curve —such as Fraser (1995) and Jacoby and Glauberman (1995). Other alternatives to the Hernstein and Murray position include works by Sternberg (1985), Gardner (1983), and Simonton (1991). You should know that there are several current debates about intelligence, including whether it can be measured accurately, whether measures of intelligence are biased to favor persons from the dominant majority group in the culture, the extent to which intelligence is heritable and the implications of heritability , whether dif ferent racial groups dif fer with respect to intelligence, and whether race dif ferences should be interpreted as social class dif fer-ences. These issues are politicized and have many implications for social and government policy, and so are generating much heated debate. Personality psychologists are playing an important role by doing the research necessary to provide a scientifi approach to these issues.

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Do Not Panic

Do Not Panic

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