Academic journal article International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Interpersonal Skills, Intelligence, and Personality in Older People

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Interpersonal Skills, Intelligence, and Personality in Older People

Article excerpt

There are two main approaches to the study of social intelligence in psychology of processes. The first one, the isoprocedural tradition, considers that those processes involved in the solution of abstract problems are the same as those involved in the solution of interpersonal situations. Sternberg's triarchic theory of human intelligence (Sternberg, 1985,1986a, 1986b, 1990) is an example of this approach. Social intelligence is the implicit knowledge of relationships among three basic tenets: the individual's internal world, experience, and external world. Sternberg states that tacit knowledge is associated with occupational performance and it is defined as knowledge about managing oneself, managing others, and managing a career. Eysenck (1987) considered that Sternberg (1985) was using the "intelligence b" concept, which Eysenck named social intelligence. When Eysenck defined intelligence in terms of social adjustment, he was using the concept of social intelligence, largely dependent on biological intelligence, but also introducing variables that had little or nothing to do with intelligence as it was normally understood in 1987. Some of these variables, finally incorporated into his model (Eysenck, 1988) are personality, education, coping strategies, cultural factors, nutrition, health, and so on. Therefore, social intelligence is IQ transferred to the social world, influenced by the environment, biological bases, and personality features, but without qualitative differences between them, and part of social intelligence is creativity and genius (Eysenck, 1995). A third isoprocedural model is presented by two personality psychologists, Cantor and Kihlstrom (1987), who combined motivational and cognitive perspectives on personality to analyze social intelligence. Their interest focuses on the pragmatics of intelligence, that is, strategies for handling life tasks.

The second approach is an heteroprocedural point of view. The researchers defend the existence of qualitative differences between processes required for abstract problemsolving and for interpersonal problem-solving. Spivack's group (Spivack, Platt, & Shure, 1976) has been working on social skills as social intelligence for the last twenty years or so. This author, using a rational analysis, studied the strategies and tactics that people use in interpersonal problem-solving. These strategies and tactics are cognitive abilities, but a person does not use them to solve abstract problems.

An alternative theory (an integrative model) is presented by Gardner (1993a), who proposed an intelligence model which was nonhierarchical and made up of seven independent types of intelligence: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodilykinesthetic, and intra-personal and inter-personal intelligences. The model, based on rational analysis, calls on biological and social aspects to explain why the different dimensions appear and are maintained.

Another alternative corresponds to the work developed by Pelechano (199 Ia, 1994, 1996b) in Spain. This author's model, although complex, is similar to Gardner's position regarding the tradition of multiple intelligences (although with hierarchies in groups of intelligences, depending on social-cultural contexts). Pelechano also posits the existence of different processes for solving interpersonal problems as against nonpersonal problems. However, Pelechano's model places more emphasis on the role of learning processes in problem-solving than does Gardner's (1993a). It accounts for his insistence on social intelligence in such important issues as the social-cultural context, comprehension of human history, and popular beliefs about intelligence and wisdom (i.e., sayings).

Within Pelechano's basic model, three general types of intelligence can be distinguished: linguistic, mechanic, and social. Social intelligence is made up of a social-institutional intelligence (economic, political, and historical intelligences) and a social-personal intelligence that consists of some coping skills and styles, interpersonal skills (IS), and interpersonal wisdom. …

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