Academic journal article Education

Intrapersonal Intelligence: Affective Factors in Thinking

Academic journal article Education

Intrapersonal Intelligence: Affective Factors in Thinking

Article excerpt

The issue of defining intelligence has been a difficult and controversial subject for both psychologists and educators alike. Most recently the trend has been to include aspects of thinking and learning that emphasize its highly personalized and self-reflective nature. This paper reviews theory and research showing how factors such as emotional awareness, self-control, and self-efficacy are changing our conceptions of what it means to be intelligent. The role of societal and cultural influences are also discussed as contributing to how and why this trend has emerged today.

Throughout the history of psychology, there have been many competing theories of intelligence. Despite these different theories, many psychologists agree on the basic conceptual definition of intelligence as the overall capacity for learning and problem solving; it is the ability to adapt to and reshape one's environment. Previous conceptions of intelligence tended to focus more on those skills and processes directly related to the solving of sterile problems of a purely logical, rational nature. Evidence for the validity of such theories could be found in the moderate to strong positive correlations between IQ tests and academic performance, (i.e., grades in school) (Woolfolk, 1995).

More recent approaches to intelligence have called this line of reasoning into question, however, based in part on the fact that (1) although correlations between traditional IQ tests and school performance are at least moderately strong, they are by no means perfect, and (2) correlations between these tests and other measures of success in life (such as income) are appreciably lower (Sternberg & Wagner, 1995). For those theorists, the capacity to learn and adapt to one's environment encompasses a wider range of distinctive abilities than was previously articulated. The capabilities necessary to do well in a school are not synonymous with those necessary to do well in the "real world". One aspect of intelligence that is being increasingly emphasized in recent approaches to learning and pedagogy, as well as formal theories of intelligence is the role of self-knowledge. The ability to set goals, monitor progress, and be aware of one's current emotional and motivation state is recognized as a critical feature of adaptive behavior. Modern theories such as Howard Gardner's (1983) theory of multiple intelligences and Robert Sternberg's (1985) triarchic theory of intelligence include such self-awareness components. Most recently, Daniel Goleman (1995) has made an even more dramatic departure from the traditional conceptions of intelligence by suggesting that one's personal, "emotional" intelligence is the most important capability for success and happiness in life. Unfortunately, Bracken (1997) noted that we have had difficulty comprehending and discovering the inner realities of intelligence (p.12).

The purpose of this paper is to review and synthesize theory and research on the role of self-knowledge in learning, problem-solving, and thinking. Specifically, this will include a discussion about the contribution of self-knowledge and conceptualization within current theories of intelligence, its influence on educational theory and practice, and the impediments to attaining (or making use of) self-awareness. In the following section a brief review of how major theories of intelligence have evolved from the fixed unitary models of the past to the multifaceted and orthogonally independent abilities theories of today.

Theories of Intelligence: A Historical Perspective

One popular theory of unitary intelligence was pioneered by E.L. Thorndike. Thorndike believed that mental capacities have commonalities that form intellectual clusters (cited in Oakland & Parmalee, 1985). Thorndike specified three clusters of mental ability: social intelligence (people skills), concrete intelligence (dealing with things), and abstract intelligence (verbal and mathematical skills) (cited in Oakland & Parmalee, 1985). …

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