What is Intelligence?
Intelligence can be broken down into 3 main areas, each of which is fundamentally different from the other 2, yet forms a crucial component of overall intelligence and hence personality. We will examine each component in brief and perhaps look at them in more detail in subsequent posts.
1. Native intelligence
This relates to the fundamental quickness or cleverness of the brain as it was from birth, without any form of training or education. We all have friends and acquaintances who are ‘sharper’ or mentally more ‘switched on’ than the rest of us. We also know people who are ‘a bit slow’. These represent the ends of the spectrum of native intelligence and probably 90% of us fit into the bell curve of ‘normal’ native intelligence.
Ironically, many people with dyslexia and some other learning disorders are gifted when it comes to native intelligence.
If we use the analogy of the mind as a car, then native intelligence is the ‘cylinder capacity’ of the engine. In other words, you cannot get huge horsepower out of a small capacity engine.
Most of us can discern a high (or low) native intelligence in toddlers and young children, but even if a child ‘appears’ a little bit slow at school, it’s not necessarily due to a low native intelligence. The rigid educational system is not geared towards ‘unique’ minds and so isunlikely to bring them out to their full potential. Which is a shame.
2. Programmed intelligence
Programmed intelligence is a combination of your education/adult learning as well as the high (or low) level of daily demand placed upon your cognitive abilities. For example, even a poorly educated person can learn an advanced skill set over time. Conversely, even a very highly educated person might be utter rubbish at a particular low-demand job.
If we use the car/motor vehicle analogy again, ‘programmed intelligence’ is a bit like an engine management system. It can optimise the raw engine and make it perform better out on the roads. Every car is supplied with a standard management system (like the standardised education system) yet to truly exhort maximum performance from the engine, the management system needs to be custom tuned.
Something to be wary of is people of relatively low native intelligence, hiding behind a facade of authority/responsibility and/or programmed intelligence. An example might be a middle-management boss who thinks that because he/she is your superior within the organisation they are you intellectual superior. Another example would be the ‘book smart’ professor who can barely tie his own shoe-laces, yet has little tolerance for ‘stupidity’.
Of course, in an ideal world education would be specific to each individual and would show them how to develop their programmed intelligence and use it to optimise their native intelligence to use in the world around them. Instead, intelligence ‘programming’ is given as a standard, which does tend to hold people back somewhat until (and unless) they find their true calling and passion in life, at which point they may go back to education but with a much more mature and independent mindset towards learning.
3. Emotional intelligence
This is the ability to read emotions in others and also to empathise with them and respond in an appropriate manner. Reading emotion in others can be tricky as many people try to mask their true feelings, so a high degree of intuition is needed, in order to achieve this. Intuition takes practice but also a comfortable familiarity with the range of emotions expressed by everyday people. ‘Empathy’ requires sensitivity and compassion.... which is why women are generally far more naturally gifted at this than boys/men. It is this gender difference that leads people to say that girls are more mature than boys of a similar age.
Emotional intelligence is really all about reading other people and also about understanding your own feelings and how they affect you. Since the typical western family doesn’t really encourage boys to talk about their feelings or try to understand them, we boys can seem to be a bit ‘emotionally stunted’. However, like most things, it it entirely possible for males to develop their emotional intelligence to the same level as their female counterparts.
Since societal interaction is based upon communication, and since something like 70-80% of communication is non-verbal, we can see that an intuitive grasp of body-language, facial micro-expressions and tonal inflection, is necessary for a smooth interaction on a day-to-day basis. People with a high level of native intelligence can often become excellent at intuitive tasks, even if they lack formal education/programmed intelligence.
In summary: Each of us is born with native intelligence to a greater or lesser degree. Programming can augment native intelligence to a significant degree, but should be tailored to the individuals’ mind. Females tend to have a higher level of emotional intelligence from birth, but males can certainly improve their emotional intelligence over time. Nigher native intelligence lends itself to the development of emotional intelligence.