Alternative Conceptions of Individual Differences
The controversial views on intelligence espoused by the likes of Murray and Lynn have made “intelligence” an easy straw man for those proposing alternative theories of individual differences. For the last twenty years criticising the reductive nature of intelligence testing (IQ) has proved populist. Two of the more popular theorists who have criticised traditional views of IQ are Howard Gardner and Daniel Goleman.
The fundamental propositions of “multiple intelligences” and “emotional intelligence” are shared by many researchers who have long concluded that academic intelligence, more fluid intelligences and non intelligence factors (e.g. interests, personality) are ALL relevant to both academic and work performance. It is worth remembering that even the politically insensitive Herrnstein proposed “one of the problems of writing about intelligence is how to remind readers often enough how little an IQ score tells you about whether the human being next to you is someone whom you will admire or cherish.” Despite this these contemporary theories of individual differences base their argument for a new theory on the premise that there are a lot of things IQ score does not tell us. While this is nothing new; politically and in popular culture both books have helped bring balance to a debate that was becoming over- focused on rigid type of intelligence.
The theory of multiple intelligences was developed by Dr. Howard Gardner, a Professor of education at Harvard University. It suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing, is far too limited. Instead, Dr. Gardner proposes eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. These intelligences are wide ranging and a refreshing reminder that people have many talents.
In 1995 Goleman’s book came out under the title “Emotional Intelligence”. The book made it to the cover of Time Magazine in the US, became an international best-seller and Goleman became an “academic celebrity”, appearing on TV shows such as Oprah Winfrey, and delivering extensive public speaking tours.
Goleman suggests that emotional intelligence is made up of four components: self awareness, social awareness, self management and relationship management. Proponents of emotional intelligence, argue that a combination of emotional intelligence and conventional intelligences (for example linguistic, mathematical, scientific) predict successful leadership.
Roberts, Zeidner and Matthews (2001) have argued that despite a plethora of new measures designed for the assessment of EI, it remains uncertain whether there is anything about EI that psychologists working within the fields of personality, intelligence, and applied psychological research do not already know. Over the last fifty years psychometric researchers have analysed and documented the most salient differences between people that emerge from self- reports. As Roberts & Co argue self-report measures of EI tend to end up reducing EI to a preferred model of personality. Dulewicz and Higgs (2005) have demonstrated how the core components of emotional intelligence are strongly related to three of the Big 5 factors. That is people who are more conscientious (particularly in the sense of being hardworking and persevering), more emotionally stable and more agreeable (empathetic, supportive, tolerant) will have higher EI scores. It is true that self-awareness is a new concept in the lexicon of individual differences however what questions do you ask to measure a concept such as “self awareness” in a self –report questionnaire?