The Meaning of Intelligence
Since Plato's time, scholars have been dehating the slippery subject of human intelligence, strugading to pinpoint its precise nature. A dear cut definition however, continues to elude us As with other such issues, there seems to be mone agreement about what intelligence is not than about what it Expense concur that it it a physical entity or organ. Although intelligente in early centered in the brain, the mere pomoc large anouses of cerebral gray matter does not cure a high intelligence level. Nor can intelligence simply be equated with 10- the intelligence quotice that represents score on the most widely used andardres tests cf mental ability Some people do not More well on IQ tests but are dcarly bright in other way
In the beuaderscose, intelligence in often looked upon asaset of behaves related to the ind sahity to waterstand and cope with the challenges f o r the chalicepos may be As such itis a relative concept that can incorporate y mumber of very different abilities or skithfrum ng complex watkins or building a piece offre to playing a icule plano concerta or finding te path way out of the wilder
Our particular definition interne t o Care and history. The bus we discrete et are tilted o lfe ina modern cientific and hhly rthantecd art. The demands of this ype if culture place a high videos much cywiani pgr, d the ability manipulate hunter and ko rewan in a logical fashion We value tracking shils ch a the city o sce relation and enco ublems tematic thing to learn from caperience and to adapt to chang ing environments or circumstance. And we place A prem
on speedines and fertility in dealing with ah challenges In ancient cieties values were different, and intelligence was sometimes very narrowly defined by such criteria knowtester of religos lew or skill in putitic eratory In rural subsistence cultures, on the other hand, intelligence en compumed much larger physical component, incorporating endurance. coordination and hunting is that enabled communi ty members raise, either or capture food Even in the modern world cOunterintelligence may vary mestur from one culture to another.
The popular view of intelligence was radically altered by a watershed event that took place in Paris in 1905 the first Alfred Binet's intelligence test to children's academic potential in the overcrowded French shod the day Al though hinet never intended the lost as anything more than a means of predicting success in school. 1Q score became yo u with intelligence over the yean And in tat, that ongnal lenting procedure still underlies most of the tests of general mental ability
in use today
IQ scores have also served as convenient yardsticks for scholars in the study of various aspects of intelligence One major avenue of research has focused on the question of its qualitative na ture whether humans are endowed with a central fence factor or many different mental abilities that operate inde pendently of other.
During the first half of the 20th century, psychologists who led the results of of mental abilities that were admin to the same subjects made what they thought to be a strik discovery No matter which test a youngster his relative Kore was very similar from one test to another. Since cach test cntly rated a set of particular mental the psycholo gists concluded that intelligence is unitary in nature and that some intelligence factor, which labeled g underlies all the different mental
This of a general mental was later challenged by other scholars who argued that intelligence mercy the sum of its parts composite of separate abilities as word creativity and nu merical as many as 120 such of the composite theory observed that children 10 quite differently the when make up the overall children with the same of specific Intellectual
both of neither the theory of a nor the newer theory of many independent In recent years, many psychologists have been leaning toward a theory of gence that the two They suggest that mental ability is organized in hierarchical fashion incorporating both a general gence factor and descending levels of specific The overall factor can be compared to general athletic ability Someone who baseball or track and for is generally skilled in many Likewise, a youngster who is adept at one mental task tends to perform well in other areas, But cach person's general ability leaves room for distinctly patterns of subordinate Using the example, you might say that while a 250 pound football star perform well in shot put, it is unlikely that he will star in the high jump or have a fast finishing time in the Similarly, a child who is generally bright may be better at reading and telling stories than at programming a computer or writing
While experts argued long and hard over the relative influ of native versus acquired ability where intellect is concerned, most have accepted the idea that some portion of a child's Intellectual make-up is inherited. But how much? We can observe, informally, that intelligent parents tend to produce bright children, but recarchers have not yet been able to devise the appropri ate scientific tools to measure exactly how genetic influence the passing on of genes from parents to child works in determining the mental and physical capabilities of individuals
Geneticists agree that there is no single master gene responsi ble for intelligence, and it even seems unlikely that a person's particular skills and abilities are directly linked to particular genes Inseca, researchers believe that hundreds of genes, which are as yet unidentified, may be involved in transmitting the many traits that are associated with intelligence
Moreover, those genes may appear in a wide variety of combi nations. A child inherits half of his genes from his mother and half from his father, in a process that may be roughly compared to rolling a pair of dice. The fact that the same pair of dice may come up showing two sixes one time, snake cycs another time and a four and a five the next can help us to understand why brothers and sisters display wide variations in individual mental skills, or whey a set of parents with aver. are intelligence may occasionally produce a highly gifted child or a child with below average intelligence.
Lacking a full understanding of the blochemistry of gene action, scien tists have largely looked to an approach called population genetics to discover traits that seem to be pared in from parents to children - Including those traits associated with intelligence Specifically, by com paring and contrasting the IQ scores of many pain of individuals with differing degrees of kinship to cach other, scientists have estimated how much of the overall differences between them is attributable to heredi- tary, as opposed to environmental, influences
When intelligence is studied in this broad brush fashion, cvi dence of a substantial genetic contribution to intelligence emerges The relative IQ scores of parents and children, and of brothers and sisters, are more similar than those of genetically unrelated people-cven adopted children raised in the same house, for exam. ple. And the closer the genetic relationship, the greater the relative Similarity Identical twins, who were produced by a single fertilized egg and consequently have exactly the same genetic make -up, are more similar in 1Q than are fraternal twins, who share approximately half of the same genes
The results of studies of twins appear to provide strong support for the belief that intelligence runs in families for genetic reasons. Even so, sorting out the separate contributions of heredity and environment is very difficult. Critics of the genetic approach point out that, in addition to sharing the same genes, twins who are raised together presumably share nearly identical environments and are subjected to many of the same shaping influences in the home. It is true that in most cases where researchers have been able to study identical twins who were raised in separate environments, their IQ scores are not as close as those of twins raised together
Heredity appears to play a dominant role in specific, specialized activities such as mathematical skill or musical talent. But here, too, experience is an important shaping force. For example, no amount of parental encouragement and professional training can turn an average child into a musical genius if he does not have the inborn potential to excel, On the other hand, a child who is born with the magic combination of genes to make him musically gifted is unlikely to reach his full potential without encouragement, training practice and motivation
Another subtle way environment interacts with inborn ability is the proces some scholars refer to as "niche picking eem that children will gravitate toward the pursuits they can perform best, by sampling various activities and station they ind a comfortable niche. On finding their particular niche, whether it my be an athletic erhal or artistic skill, the child in rewarded with stiadation, entertainment and the hological bench achievement These environmental re ponses to reduce the best concern fur ther development of iboe a
As a parent, you stupe your child's environment as well as his genes For example, children when purents read to them are known to per form better in school than those whose parents do not But parents who like to read to their children usually like to cad hie their own enjoy ment as well. Those parents, then, may paw along both a genetic disposition toward reading and an environment in which reading is encouraged and reinforced
In recent ycan, the compelling question has been raised of just how tar human intellectual capacitice can be expanded. Even though heredity may be a major factor in an individual's mental ability, it is possible that environmental influence could alter the picture over time Pycholo pats point to high a highly hereditary trait, as an cutiple. Lae intelli gence, height dearly runs in families, you are all your children are likely to be tall. But whide this trait is dominated by genetic inuence the average height of children in this country has steadily increased over the last half century Changes such as this are plainly linked to improvements in the environment, including better nutrition and bet ter health care
In the same fashion, me experts believe, environmental education constantly interact with the inborn components of intelligence and may well make it possible for people to rise above genetic constraints in as yet undiscovered ways
But most authorities agree that there are no form answer to such questions about the ultimate limits of intelligence. The potential of the human mind, they insist simply unknown.