Investigation into Intelligence and its different theories

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Intelligence is an umbrella term used to describe a property of the mind that encompasses many related abilities, such as the capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn. There are several ways to define intelligence. In some cases, intelligence may include traits such as creativity, personality, character, knowledge, or wisdom. However there is no agreement on which traits define the phenomenon of intelligence agreed upon by a majority across the various concerned disciplines.

Theories of intelligence can be divided into those based on a unilinear construct of general intelligence and those based on multiple intelligences. Francis Galton, influenced by his cousin Charles Darwin, was the first to advance a theory of general intelligence. For Galton, intelligence was a real faculty with a biological basis that could be studied by measuring reaction times to certain cognitive tasks. Galton's research on measuring the head size of British scientists and ordinary citizens led to the conclusion that head size had no relationship with the person's intelligence.

Alfred Binet and the French school of intelligence believed that intelligence was an average of numerous dissimilar abilities, rather than a unitary entity with specific identifiable properties. The Stanford-Binet intelligence test has been used by both theorists of general intelligence and multiple intelligence.

Intelligence comes from the Latin verb intellegere, which means "to understand". By this rationale, intelligence (as understanding) is arguably different from being "smart" (able to adapt to one's environment). At least two major "consensus" definitions of intelligence have been proposed. First, from Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns, a report of a task force convened by the American Psychological Association in 1995:

Individuals differ from one another in their ability to understand complex ideas, to adapt effectively to the environment, to learn from experience, to engage in various forms of reasoning, to overcome obstacles by taking thought. Although these individual differences can be substantial, they are never entirely consistent: a given person's intellectual performance will vary on different occasions, in different domains, as judged by different criteria. Concepts of "intelligence" are attempts to clarify and organize this complex set of phenomena. Although considerable clarity has been achieved in some areas, no such conceptualization has yet answered all the important questions and none

commands universal assent. Indeed, when two dozen prominent theorists were recently asked to define intelligence, they gave two dozen somewhat different definitions.

A second definition of intelligence comes from "Mainstream Science on Intelligence", which was signed by 52 intelligence researchers in 1994:

A very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience. It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings-"catching on", "making sense" of things, or "figuring out" what to do.

Another simple and efficient definition is: the ability to apply knowledge in order to perform better in an environment.

Researchers in the fields of psychology and learning have also defined human intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions. Some researchers suggest that emotional intelligence can be learned and strengthened, while other claim it is an inborn characteristic.

Since 1990, Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer have been the leading researchers on emotional intelligence. In their influential article "Emotional Intelligence," they defined emotional intelligence as, "the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions" (1990).

Salovey and Mayer proposed a model that identified four different factors of emotional intelligence: the perception of emotion, the ability reason using emotions, the ability to understand emotion, and the ability to manage emotions. According to Salovey and Mayer, the four branches of their model are, "arranged from more basic psychological processes to higher, more psychologically integrated processes. For example, the lowest level branch concerns the (relatively) simple abilities of perceiving and expressing emotion. In contrast, the highest level branch concerns the conscious, reflective regulation of emotion" (1997).

A Brief History of Emotional Intelligence

1930s - Edward Thorndike describes the concept of "social intelligence" as the ability to get along with other people.

1940s - David Wechsler suggests that affective components of intelligence may be essential to success in life.

1950s - Humanistic psychologists such as Abraham Maslow describe how people can build emotional strength.

1975 - Howard Gardner publishes The Shattered Mind, which introduces the concept of multiple intelligences.

1985 - Wayne Payne introduces the term emotional intelligence in his doctoral dissertation entitled "A study of emotion: developing emotional intelligence; self-integration; relating to fear, pain and desire (theory, structure of reality, problem-solving, contraction/expansion, tuning in/coming out/letting go)."

1987 - In an article published in Mensa Magazine, Keith Beasley uses the term "emotional quotient." It has been suggested that this is the first published use of the term, although Reuven Bar-On claims to have used the term in an unpublished version of his graduate thesis.

1990 - Psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer publish their landmark article, "Emotional Intelligence," in the journal Imagination, Cognition, and Personality.

1995 - The concept of emotional intelligence is popularized after publication of psychologist and New York Times science writer Daniel Goleman's book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

Dimensions of EI

From the original five dimensions (inconsistently referred to throughout the book as dimensions,

domains or abilities - the use of the word "abilities" will be utilised for this review), the authors

have simplified these into four:

1. self-awareness

2. self-management

3. social awareness

4. relationship management

All four are closely related and build on the preceding ability, but it begins with self-awareness.

Self-awareness helps us recognise emotions in others. Good, resonant leaders have the ability to manage their own emotions to do and say the appropriate things at the appropriate time.

Possessing a social awareness - being aware of how others feel individually or in a group -creates empathy, which is crucial for relationship management.

The four abilities have been defined into 18 competences. The authors argue that these

competences are not innate talents, but learned abilities. From the four EI abilities and the 18 competences, people can identify their own abilities and competences. The authors have found that no leader has an across-the-board set but, rather, a critical mass of a selection of abilities or competences.

Here, the authors call on further, extensive research findings from a global database of

executives, which determines six different styles of leadership and how these styles influenced

the working environment and affected financial results. The styles identified are:

1. visionary

2. coaching

3. affiliative

4. democratic

5. pacesetting

6. commanding

Styles 1-4 create resonance, but styles 5 and 6 should be used sparingly and with caution as

they can easily create dissonance. It was also found that leaders with a positive emotional impact on the working environment saw better financial results.

The five discoveries

From providing an understanding of the emotional intelligence concept, the authors move the reader on to the making of resonant leaders by learning the EI abilities and competences in part two.

Again basing their conclusions on comprehensive research, the authors propose the universal malady called "CEO Disease". The "disease" pertains to leaders not being given the whole truth from their followers on the basis of not wanting to be the bearer of bad news (the "shooting the messenger" syndrome). The research has shown accurate feedback on performance becomes less reliable the higher in the organisation you are.

The authors maintain that developing EI competences will allow leaders to be more in touch with their organisation. They propose that building EI "cannot happen in a seminar or from a 'how-to' manual", but rather by a process of sustainable learning. They take the reader back to the neurological data: the limbic (emotional) brain has a more primitive organisation of cells, and therefore the learning process is slower than in the neo-cortex where the cognitive abilities are learned. Repeated and sustained learning over a period of time develops deeply ingrained habits centred in the limbic area, the area most suited to the learning of EI competences.

A process of self-directed learning is prescribed, based on the five discoveries, which are:

• discovering the vision of yourself

• discovering your real self; from the difference between the vision and reality, a list is

made of the strengths and gaps

• from these strengths and gaps, identifying an agenda to improve on strengths and close

the gaps

• practicing the new competences required

• developing a trusting relationship with others who can provide feedback, through all the

stages 1-4

"In regard to measuring emotional intelligence - I am a great believer that criterion-report (that is, ability testing) is the only adequate method to employ. Intelligence is an ability, and is directly measured only by having people answer questions and evaluating the correctness of those answers." --John D. Mayer

Emotional Intelligence and job satisfaction

Research in the field of EI is at the infancy stage and as such, there is a need for further empirical research which assesses the predictive ability of EI on life, and, and moreso on organisational success (Douglas, Frink and Ferris 2004; Zeidner, Matthews and Roberts 2004). As such, this Measuring research aimed to empirically establish the predictive power of EI in service organisational settings by examining the relationships between a customer service provider's level of EI and their associated job performance and job satisfaction. In order to delineate between customer service contexts the research assessed six key characteristics of customer service interactions. The inclusion of these customer service interaction strength dimensions allowed for the classification of service interactions to identify variance of EI on workplace outcomes across different service settings. With the inclusion of the customer service interaction strength dimensions this research is identified as the first such study to empirically measure the predictive power of EI for job satisfaction and job performance in a broad cross-section of interactive customer service roles.

The research utilised a quantitative data approach in the form of scaled survey items to measure the key constructs. Despite the growing body of literature espousing the value of EI to enhanced workplace outcomes, the statistical analysis of the predictive power of EI revealed that this construct may not be as pertinent as other factors, in particular, customer service experience, in enhancing customer service provider satisfaction and performance. This premise was supported by the statistical significance influence of customer service experience, gender and personality and personal values (intrinsic interpersonal characteristics) identified, in addition to that of EI, in predicting customer service provider job satisfaction and job performance. These findings suggest that measures such as EI should be used in conjunction with other sources of information and psychometric tests in the selection and recruitment of customer service providers.

Although, the results of the research did not revealed strong support for EI's predictive capability, the significant associations between EI and the workplace outcomes adds to the current body of knowledge offering empirical support for the investigation of EI in workplace environments. Furthermore, the findings linking customer service experience to EI offered empirical support for the developmental theory of EI as a learnt ability. Such that, while individuals may gain emotional knowledge through the course of everyday life, it is the application and enhancement of these skills through experience or training and development in customer service roles which increases a customer service provider's EI ability level.

Further, although the customer service interaction dimensions did not appear to significantly moderate the influence of a customer service provider's EI on their levels of job satisfaction and job performance The research does identify a sub-set of these factors that offered additional insight into the prediction of such workplace outcomes for customer service providers demonstrating specific personal characteristics. Furthermore, the study highlighted a number of personal and environmental characteristics which provide insight into the types of customer service contexts which contribute to customer service employee satisfaction and enhanced job performance.

Overall this research makes a unique contribution to the conceptualisation and measurement of EI as a form of intelligence. These findings will serve to expand the theoretical debate on EI as a predictor of workplace success, identifying the unifying effect of EI with other characteristics which collectively work to enhance customer service provision across service contexts. At a practical level, the findings contribute significantly to human resource practices, namely the recruitment and training and development of satisfied and high performing employees in service organisations.