More or less random thoughts on Intelligence
Definition of intelligence:
Let’s start with the assumption that IQ is only one form of intelligence. Therefore, any definition of intelligence must be able to include IQ but is not necessarily limited to IQ. The assumption intelligence=IQ would therefore be false (given this starting point).
Intelligence has been defined in many different ways. The examples are many and easy to find with a simple internet search. My personal favorite is this one:
“Within any culture, intelligence can be defined as the possession of key valued skills and behaviors in the eyes of the members of that culture.” (Klenke)
I like this definition because it does not include the actual objective success of the skills and behaviors but only their success in the eyes of the members of the society that they are related to. Klenke is interested in introducing the concept of Cultural Intelligence, however I find this definition useful also beyond that.
(…but is it true? Can it be true? May intelligence be relative to the observer? Surely it must be possible to nail it down to a scientific absolute. But if so, for all else beyond IQ: How? …And does going beyond the “intelligence=IQ” paradigm mean that intelligence is a subjective trait?).
What is EQ? Why is it useful?
“Your EQ is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them,” (Howard Gardner)
EQ is key in creating healthy, successful, collaborative relationships and team environments, where challenges can be dealt with efficiently.
Developing a mature EQ means learning to better understand oneself and others, and to react to and to negotiate with others appropriately.
(…How emotionally intelligent am I? What are my emotional competencies and are they adequate?
What can I do to improve them? Where do I even start?
Am I my skills? Am I my relationships? Am I my emotions? Am I my habits?… Am I?
…is answering this question of importance for a leader? If so, why?…)
Intelligence: skill or process?
My impression is that most of the definitions of intelligence rely on not defining the split between the “what” and the “how”, i.e. between the skill and the process (between ability/performance, or skills/behaviors).
Therefore it is leaving open a question: is intelligence the “skill of being efficient”, or is it an “optimizing process”?
Does my intelligence exist always, or only when I use it? Is Intelligence therefore more like a skill (example: I know how to speak English and therefore I can efficiently communicate in English), or more like a habit (example: even without thinking, I can drive home efficiently).
Is this question important? Maybe not: It will not change the fact that when we say: “he’s an intelligent guy” we mean that he is smart… however, IS he smart? Or does he ACT in a smart way? So, for example, if we change the context, will he still ACT in a smart way? And if not (examples abound), will I still think he IS smart (even in the original context)?
This example requires of course the possibility to change the context. If I limit my question to IQ, changing the context may not be simple. Finally, logic and rationality should be objective, and lack of knowledge or of experience must be taken into account. However, when I expand the notion of intelligence to include the abilities to perform other, not simply logic testing tasks in an optimal manner, then changing context becomes very common. For example:
- The ability to lead a team of friends, vs. a team of colleagues.
- The ability to collaborate efficiently within the culture one grew up in, vs. a within a completely different culture,
- The ability to shape daily events in a stable environment, vs. in a changing one.
A tentative answer:
Probably we need to consider different aspects:
- The innate capacities and talents (Skill),
- The knowledge/experience about a specific topic (Skill?),
- The acquired habits (Process),
- The self-confidence to deal with uncertainty (Process?),
- The desire and predisposition towards novelty and challenge, (Skill?/Process?).
Intelligence would therefore not be one specific element, but a combination of both skill and process. If either is missing it just doesn’t work.