The Other I

January 27, 2013

Not a difference deficit

During most of my career as a cognitive psychologist, I expressed grave doubts about the Western version of IQ or Intelligence Quotient, often simply called “general intelligence.”

Despite more than a century’s worth of testing, psychologists still cannot come up with a better definition of intelligence than “the ability to adapt.”  Given that this is the concept that lies at the core of intelligence, you would think that there would be greater reservations about more than a century’s worth of testing that reduces IQ to two fundamental abilities – verbal and mathematical.  Traditional IQ tests do not pay even lip service to musical, artistic, athletic, or inter-personal abilities.

In addition they are highly biased in terms of content with which a middle-class child is apt to be familiar.  Educators and psychologists agree that what they call intelligence is influenced by both genetics and environment, but the environment is not adjusted for in traditional intelligence tests.

As a result, IQ tests do a fairly good job at predicting who can succeed academically.  They do not predict who will make the most money, who will report as adults that they are happy, or the success of their family life.  And a recent study of  students in the Bronx has demonstrated that non-cognitive characteristics like grit, persistence, curiosity, and sheer character are absolutely necessary and themselves are highly predictive of success, even academically.  Exceptionally high intelligence and educational opportunities to develop it are not enough.

Traditional concepts of intelligence embed in many of us an assumption that if people aren’t like us, they are less intelligent.  If the elderly aren’t as good with modern technology as younger people, the assumption is that younger people are smarter.  Or possibly even that old people are dumber.  Ethnic minorities, people with physical deformities, or language difficulties are often discriminated against as being less intelligent.  A lack of proficiency in the dominant language of a country is often assumed to be because the person isn’t intelligent.  I have seen this dreadful misconception operate in relation to doctors, professors, engineers, and social workers who speak haltingly or with a heavy accent.

I’ve reached the conclusion that our traditional concept of intelligence is a chauvinist Western prejudice.  It’s a way of fooling ourselves into thinking that we are superior to the peoples we have colonized in the last 400 years.

The assumption is often made in all good faith.  But unfortunately,  it can be a way of staying stupid ourselves.

 

Advertisements

6 Comments »

  1. You could definitely see your skills in the article you write.

    The sector hopes for even more passionate
    writers such as you who are not afraid to say how they believe.
    Always follow your heart.

    Like

    Comment by ไฟโตเอสซี — October 7, 2014 @ 6:55 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for your comment. I’m not sure about your advice, however to “always follow your heart.” I’ve discovered in my life that it is not only my head that is sometimes wrong. Sometimes so is my heart. I think head and heart need each other.

      Like

      Comment by theotheri — October 7, 2014 @ 7:35 pm | Reply

  2. Hi there are using WordPress for your blog platform?

    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and
    create my own. Do you require any html coding knowledge to make your own blog?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Like

    Comment by เนอร์สซิ่งโฮม — October 8, 2014 @ 5:21 am | Reply

    • The only advice I can offer is for you to go to the WordPress home page nat WordPress.com. You will see that you do not need html. Just some ideas you feel the need to share. Best of luck.

      Like

      Comment by theotheri — October 9, 2014 @ 2:41 pm | Reply

  3. I have learn several excellent stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting.

    I surprise how a lot attempt you put to make this sort of magnificent informative web site.

    Like

    Comment by ชาทีมิกซ์ — October 19, 2014 @ 5:39 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for your comment. I am glad to know when someone gets something out of it.
      Hope to see you again.

      Like

      Comment by theotheri — October 19, 2014 @ 7:33 pm | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: