Tuesday, July 18, 2017

--- Intelligence ---

Being a psychologist and retired vocational evaluator, I have what may seem like an embarrassing confession to make. I don't know what "intelligence" is, but I suspect that no one else does either - at least not in any precise way. I'm certainly not sure what an IQ is good for.

I've given many IQ tests, to be sure. I generally gave them for two reasons. First, the schools required them, but I have choice words for that requirement in my reports. That anyone could use the results of a test that can be so drastically influenced by indigestion for purposes of placement - to decide the future track of a person's life - boggles my mind.

I was disillusioned by IQ tests early on. My first client, in fact, was a charming young lady who chatted with me in a witty and smart manner as I stared at her profile that assured me that her IQ was 65. That's a heck of a way to break a vocational evaluator in. After the intake interview I went straight to the behavioral specialist and said, "This can't be right." After a brief interview with the client, the behavioral specialist returned and said, "You're right. I'll retest her." And sure enough, her IQ was 65!

I never trusted an intelligence quotient again.

But I won't say I didn't like IQ tests. My favorite ones were the ones that gave multiple scores. I used them in a more straight forward fashion. Instead of trying to get a blanket score to tell me how well people could solve problems, I looked at the individual scores to see how well people could solve those specific kinds of problems, and then I compared them with scores from other tests, and more importantly, I compared all those scores with what the person had done with their life - their successes and failures, their interests and their dreams, and I pulled all that together into a narrative. No one score could have ever satisfied me when the object under my scrutiny was anything so complex and magnificent as a person.

Uh....there is one other reason I liked IQ tests. They are fun. I like puzzles, so, obviously, I liked IQ tests.

Over the next week or two, I will be reading the Yale-New Haven Teacher's Institute's unit on Human Intelligence: Theories and Developmental Origins (http://teachersinstitute.yale.edu/curriculum/units/2001/6/ last accessed 7/18/2017), and then I'll see if I can find an IQ test that I haven't taken and given so many times I already know the answers by rote (and I'll recommend some that you can take yourself). I expect to have fun.

The first section was written by Dina Pollock and focused on intrapersonal intelligence, which is one of the intelligences mentioned by Howard Gardner in his work on multiple intelligences. Intrapersonal intelligence somewhat calls into question the classical idea that personality is the characteristics that are fairly stable in a person over their lifetime. A skill  included in intrapersonal intelligence is the ability to know self and to guide the development, to some extent, of self.

Most of the exercises suggested by Ms. Pollock are group exercises, which is reasonable since the section is about knowing self and we learn much of what we know about ourselves from other people. But some of the exercises are amenable to individual self exploration. Be careful with "Know your potatoes" if you don't live alone.

I'll add to Ms. Pollock's suggestions the Berkeley Personality Inventory, available in the book "Who Do You Think You Are?" by Keith Harary (the 2nd edition was published in 2005 by Penguin Putnam Trade). This brief personality inventory allows you to explore the way you see yourself (perceived personality) and the way you would like to be (ideal personality), and you can even let others score the inventory for you to see how they perceive your personality (if you dare).

I'm working on a guide for professionals working with therians and I have just finished reviewing a report by the International Anthropomorphic Research Group (Roberts, S. E., Plante, C., Gerbasi, K., & Reysen, S. (2015). Clinical interaction with anthropomorphic phenomenon: Notes for health professionals about interacting with clients who possess this unusual identity. Health & Social Work, 40(2), e42-e50). In their study, they found that furries (people who belong to a culture based on anthropomorphic characters and/or art) use alternate personas to move from the way they see themselves closer to they way they want to be.

I would expect the players of RPGs (Role Playing Games) could use characters created during play to do the same thing. But, then, I know a lot of gamers who intentionally choose characters that are not at all like themselves and are not at all like who they would want to be, as a kind of challenge.

I suspect that RPGs present a very fertile ground for psychological and sociological research.

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