THINKING AND LANGUAGE. INTELLIGENCE

 

Thinking and Language

Thinking, or cognition, refers to all the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and communicating.

 

 

Cognitive psychologists study these activities, including the logical and sometimes illogical ways in which we create concepts, solve problems, make decisions, and form judgments. We use concepts, mental groupings of similar objects, events, ideas, or people, to simplify and order the world around us. In creating hierarchies, we subdivide these categories into smaller and more detailed units. We form some concepts, such as triangles, by definition (three-sided objects), but we form most around prototypes, or best examples of a category.

Our cognitive system receives, perceives, and retrieves information, which we then use to think and communicate, sometimes wisely, sometimes foolishly. This topic explores how we form concepts, solve problems, and make judgments and decisions. The analysis and synthesis of the direct stimuli from surroundings first signal system performs. This includes impressions, sensations.

 

A burst of right temporal lobe activity accompanies

insight solutions to word problems (using functional MRIs).

 

This functional mechanism is common in human and animals. In the course of his social development and work activity second signal system, which based on using verbal signals, develop. This system includes perception of words, reading and speech.

The development of the second signal system was incredibly broadened and changed by quality of higher nervous activity of cerebral hemispheres. Words are signals of other signals. Humans use verbal signals for everything they perceive by receptors. Words are abstraction of reality and allow generalization, processing of surrounding primary information. This gives the first general human empiricism and finally science, the instrument of man's higher orientation in the environment and its own self. So, second signal system is socially determined. Outside the society, without association with other people second signal system is not developed.

 

Thinking

An algorithm is a time-consuming but thorough set of rules orprocedures (such as a step-by-step description for evacuating a building during a fire) that guarantees a solution to a problem. A heuristic is a simpler thinking strategy (such as running for an exit if you smell smoke) that may allow us to solve problems quickly, but sometimes leads us to incorrect solutions. Insight is not a strategy-based solution, but rather a sudden flash of inspiration that solves a problem.

Obstacles to successful problem solving are the confirmation bias, which predisposes us to verify rather than challenge our hypotheses, and fixation, such as mental set and functional fixedness, which may prevent us from taking the fresh perspective that would let us solve the problem.

 

These functional MRIs show a person imagining the experience of pain, which activates some of the same areas in the brain as the actual experience of pain.

 

The prefrontal association area is essential to carrying out thought processes in the mind. This presumably results from some of the same capabilities of the prefrontal cortex that allow it to plan motor activities.

The prefrontal association area is frequently described  as important for elaboration of thoughts to store on a short-term basis “working memories” that are used to analyze each new thought while it is entering the braine. The somatic, visual, and auditory association areas all meet one another in the posterior part of the superior temporal lobe. This area is especially highly developed in the dominant side of the brain – the left side in almost all right-handed people.

It plays the greatest single role of any part of cerebral cortex in the higher comprehensive levels of brain function that we call intelligence. This zone is also called general interpretative area, the gnostic area, the knowing area, tertiary association area. It is best known as Wernike’s area in honor of the neurologist who first describes it.

 

Solving Problems.

When faced with a novel situation for which no well-learned response will do, we may use such strategies as algorithms and heuristics. Sometimes the solution comes in a flash of insight. We do, however, face obstacles to successful problem solving. The confirmation bias predisposes us to verify rather than challenge our hypotheses. And fixations, such as mental set and functional fixedness, may prevent our taking a needed fresh perspective on a problem.

 

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Some problems we solve through trial and error. Thomas Edison tried thousands of lightbulb filaments before stumbling upon one that worked. For other problems, we use algorithms, step-by-step procedures that guarantee a solution. In such cases, we often resort to simpler strategies called heuristics. y using heuristics and then applying trial and error, we may hit upon the answer. Sometimes, the problem-solving strategy seems to be no strategy at all. We puzzle over a problem, and suddenly, the pieces fall together as we perceive the solution in a sudden flash of insight.

We seek evidence verifying our ideas more eagerly than we seek evidence that might refute them. This tendency, known as confirmation bias, is a major obstacle to problem solving. Once we incorrectly represent a problem, it’s hard to restructure how we approach it. Two examples of fixation are mental set and functional fixedness. As a perceptual set predisposes what we perceive, a mental set predisposes how we think. Mental set refers to our tendency to approach a problem with the mind-set of what has worked for us previously. Indeed, solutions that worked in the past often do work on new problems. Sometimes, however, a mental set based on what worked in the past precludes our finding a new solution to a new problem. Our mental set from our past experiences with matchsticks predisposes our arranging them in two dimensions.

Another type of fixation—our tendency to think of only the familiar functions for objects, without imagining alternative uses—goes by the awkward but appropriate label functional fixedness. A person may ransack the house for a screwdriver when a coin would have turned the screw. Perceiving and relating familiar things in new ways is part of creativity.

 

Making Decisions and Forming Judgments.

Our use of heuristics, such as representativeness and availability, provides highly efficient but occasionally misleading guides for making quick decisions and forming intuitive judgments. Our tendencies to seek confirmation of our hypotheses and to use quick and easy heuristics can blind us to our vulnerability to error, a phenomenon known as overconfidence. And the way someone poses, or frames, a question affects our responses.

We tend to show a belief bias in our reasoning, accepting as more logical those conclusions that agree with our beliefs. We also exhibit belief perseverance, clinging to our ideas because the explanation we accepted as valid lingers in the mind even after the basis for the ideas has been discredited. Yet despite our capacity for error and our susceptibility to bias, human cognition is remarkably efficient and adaptive. As we gain expertise in a field, we grow adept at making quick, shrewd judgments.

Although it sometimes leads us astray, human intuition—effortless, immediate, automatic feeling or thought—can give us instant help when we need it. Experts in a field grow adept at making quick, shrewd judgments. Smart thinkers will welcome their intuitions but check them against available evidence.

Our use of intuitive heuristics when forming judgments, our eagerness to confirm the beliefs we already hold, and our knack for explaining away failures combine to create overconfidence, a tendency to overestimate the accuracy of our knowledge and judgments. Failing to appreciate our potential for error can have serious consequences, but overconfidence does have adaptive value. People who err on the side of overconfidence live more happily, find it easier to make tough decisions, and seem more credible than those who lack self-confidence. Moreover, given prompt and clear feedback—as weather forecasters receive after each day’s predictions—we can learn to be more realistic about the accuracy of our judgments. The wisdom to know when we know a thing and when we do not is born of experience.

 

Language.

Framing is the way a question or statement is worded. Subtle wording differences can dramatically alter our responses. Phonemes are a language’s basic units of sound.

Morphemes are the elementary units of meaning. Grammar—the system of rules that enables us to communicate—includes semantics (rules for deriving meaning) and syntax (rules for ordering words into sentences).

 

Language Structure.

Language is built of phonemes (basic speech sounds), morphemes (elementary units of meaning), and the semantics (rules for deriving meaning) and syntax (rules for word order) that make up grammar.

 

 

The analysis and synthesis of the direct stimuli from surroundings first signal system performs. This includes impressions, sensations. This functional mechanism is common in human and animals. In the course of his social development and work activity the second signaling system, which based on using verbal signals, develops. This system includes perception of words, reading and speech. The development of the second signaling system was incredibly broadened and changed quality of higher nervous activity of cerebral hemispheres. Words are signals of other signals. Humans use verbal signals for everything they perceive through the receptors. Words are abstraction of reality and allow generalization, processing of surrounding primary information. So, second signaling system is socially determined. Outside the society, without communication to other people second signaling system will not develop.

There are some aspects of communication: sensory, involving reading, hearing of speech, and the motor aspect, involving vocalization and its control. It is known, that lesion of posterior portion of the superior temporal gyrus, which is called Wernicke's area, and is part of auditory associative cortex, make impossible to the person to interpret the meanings of words. This Wernicke's area is located in dominant hemisphere, which is usually the left. The process of speech includes two principle stages of mentation: formation of thoughts to be expressed and motor control of vocalization. The formation of thoughts is the function of associative areas in the brain. Wernicke's area in the posterior part of the superior temporal gyrus is the most important for this ability.

 

Language Development.

The timing varies from one child to another, but all children follow the same sequence. At about 4 months of age, infants babble, making sounds found in languages located all over the world. By about 10 months, their babbling contains only the sounds found in their household language. Around 12 months of age, children begin to speak in single words. This one-word stage evolves into two-word (telegraphic) utterances before their second birthday, after which they begin speaking in full sentences.

 

 

The ability of a full-term baby to develop temporary connections of the first signaling system arises in a few days after the birth. In the first six months of life speech sounds mean little for a child. They are simply stimuli to the auditory analyzer like any other sounds. The first signs of development of the second signaling system appear during the second half of the first year of life. If a person or an object is named and shown to a child many times, reaction to this name develops. Later after leaning a few words, a child begins to name objects itself. Finally, at a later time child uses a stock of words to communicate with other people.

Among the marvels of nature is a child’s ability to acquire language. The ease with which children progress from the babbling stage through the one-word stage to the telegraphic speech of the two-word stage and beyond has sparked a lively debate concerning how they do it. Behaviorist B. F. Skinner proposed that we learn language by the familiar principles of association, reinforcement, and imitation. Challenging this claim, linguist Noam Chomsky argued that children are biologically prepared to learn words and use grammar. Cognitive neuroscientists emphasize that for mastery of grammar, the learning that occurs during life’s first few years, when the brain is building a dense network of neuronal connections, is critical.

 

 

The Brain and Language.

Broca's speech area lies in prefrontal and premotor facial region in the left hemisphere. The skilled motor patterns for control of the larynx, lips, mouth, respiratory system and other accessory muscles of speech are all initiated from this area. Articulation means movements of mouth, tongue, larynx, vocal cords, and so forth that are responsible for the intonations, timing, and rapid changes in intensities of the sequential sounds. The facial and laryngeal regions of the motor cortex activate these muscles, and the cerebellum, basal ganglia, and sensory cortex all help control the sequences and intensities of muscle contractions. Transmitters such as dopamine, noradrenaline, serotonin and certain neuropeptides transmit their signals by what is referred to as slow synaptic transmission. The resulting change in the function of the nerve cell may last from seconds to hours. This type of signal transmission is responsible for a number of basal functions in the nervous system and is of importance for e.g. alertness and mood. Slow synaptic transmission can also control fast synaptic transmission, which in turn enables e.g. speech, movements and sensory perception.

 

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The skilled motor patterns for control of the larynx, lips, mouth, respiratory system and other accessory muscles of speech are all initiated from this area. Articulation means movements of mouth, tongue, larynx, vocal cords, and so forth that are responsible for the intonations, timing, and rapid changes in intensities of the sequential sounds. The facial and laryngeal regions of the motor cortex activate these muscles, and the cerebellum, basal ganglia, and sensory cortex all help control the sequences and intensities of muscle contractions.

Transmitters such as dopamine, noradrenaline, serotonin and certain neuropeptides transmit their signals by what is referred to as slow synaptic transmission. The resulting change in the function of the nerve cell may last from seconds to hours. This type of signal transmission is responsible for a number of basal functions in the nervous system and is of importance for e.g. alertness and mood. Slow synaptic transmission can also control fast synaptic transmission, which in turn enables e.g. speech, movements and sensory perception.

When you read aloud, your brain’s visual cortex registers words as visual stimuli, the angular gyrus transforms those visual representations into auditory codes, Wernicke’s area interprets those codes and sends the message to Broca’s area, which controls the motor cortex as it creates the pronounced words. But we now know that language results from the integration of many specific neural networks performing specialized subtasks in many parts of the brain.

 

 

How do we learn language?

Behaviorist B. F. Skinner proposed that we learn language by the familiar principles of association (of sights of things with sounds of words), imitation (of words and syntax modeled by others), and reinforcement (with smiles and hugs after saying something right). Linguist Noam Chomsky argues that we are born with a language acquisition device that biologically prepares us to learn language and that equips us with a universal grammar, which we use to learn a specific language. Cognitive researchers believe childhood is a critical period for learning spoken and signed language.

Attempts to explain how we acquire language have sparked a spirited intellectual controversy. The nature-nurture debate surfaces again and, here as elsewhere, appreciation for innate predisposition and the nature-nature interaction has grown.

Skinner: Operant Learning Behaviorist B. F. Skinner believed we can ex-plain language development with familiar learning principles, such as association (of the sights of things with the sounds of words); imitation (of the words and syntax modeled by others); and reinforcement (with smiles and hugs when the child says something right). Thus, Skinner argued, babies learn to talk in many of the same ways that animals learn to peck keys and press bars: “Verbal behavior evidently came into existence when, through a critical step in the evolution of the human species, the vocal musculature became susceptible to operant conditioning.” And it’s not just humans.

Song-learning birds also acquire their “language” aided by imitation. Chomsky: Inborn Universal Grammar Linguist Noam Chomsky has likened Skinner’s ideas to filling a bottle with water. But developing language is not just being “filled up” with the right kinds of experiences, Chomsky insisted. Children acquire untaught words and grammar at a rate too extraordinary to be explained solely by learning principles. They generate all sorts of sentences they have never heard, sometimes with novel errors. Moreover, many of the errors young children make result from overgeneralizing logical grammatical rules, such as adding -ed to form the past tense

Underlying human language, Chomsky says, is a universal grammar: All human languages therefore have the same grammatical building blocks, such as nouns and verbs, subjects and objects, negations and questions. Thus, we readily learn the specific grammar of whatever language we experience, whether spoken or signed. And no matter what that language is, we start speaking mostly in nouns (kitty, da-da) rather than verbs and adjectives. It happens so naturally—as naturally as birds learning to fly—that training hardly helps.

Many psychologists believe we benefit from both Skinner’s and Chomsky’s views. Children’s genes design complex brain wiring that prepares them to learn language as they interact with their caregivers. Skinner’s emphasis on learning helps explain how infants acquire their language as they interact with others. Chomsky’s emphasis on our built-in readiness to learn grammar rules helps explain why preschoolers acquire language so readily and use grammar so well. Once again, we see biology and experience working together.

 

Language Influences Thinking.

Although Whorf's linguistic determinism hypothesis suggested that language determines thought, it is more accurate to say that language influences thought. Different languages embody different ways of thinking, and immersion in bilingual education can enhance thinking. We often think in images when we use procedural memory—our unconscious memory system for motor and cognitive skills and classically and operantly conditioned associations. Thinking in images can increase our skills when we mentally practice upcoming events.

 

Structured Thinking Language

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Each of the Six Hats are actually verbs and each of the Six Coats are nouns. Together they create a minimal structured language framework for guiding the design of a system.

CREATE: Conceptualize. Expand Meaning. What are you making right?

DEFINE: Contextualize. Focus on Uniqueness. What is your mantra?

REFINE: Logicalize. Maximize Value. What is your effect?

REDUCE: Physicalize. Minimize Cost. What is your business model?

INTUIT: Humanize. Familiarize Interaction. How do you lower the barriers to adoption?

ENGAGE: Synchronize. Increase Availability. How do you make yourself convenient?

MOTIVE: Why? Goals affected.

LOCALE: Where? Locations affected.

OBJECT: What? Data affected.

METHOD: How? Functions affected.

PERSON: Who? Populations affected.

MOMENT: When? Times affected.

 

Words convey ideas, and different languages embody different ways of thinking. Although the linguistic relativity hypothesis suggested that language determines thought, it is more accurate to say that language influences thought. Studies of the effects of the generic pronoun he and the ability of vocabulary enrichment to enhance thinking reveal the influence of words.

Determination of “thought” notion.

The prefrontal association area is essential to carrying out thought processes in the mind. This presumably results from some of the same capabilities of the prefrontal cortex that allow it to plan motor activities.

The prefrontal association area  is frequently described  as important for elaboration of thoughts to store on a short-term basis “working memories” that are used to analyze each new thought while it is entering the braine. The somatic, visual, and auditory association areas all meet one another in the posterior part of the superior temporal lobe. This area is especially highly developed in the dominant side of the brain – the left side in almost all right-handed people.

It plays the greatest single role of any part of cerebral cortex in the higher comprehensive levels of brain function that we call intelligence. This zone is also called general interpretative area, the gnostic area, the knowing area, tertiary association area. It is best known as Wernike’s area in honor of the neurologist who first describes it.

Main functions of speech are communicative, regulatory, programming and gives general notion about surroundings. Communicative function permits exchange by information between people. Such a function is also present in animals, which use for this aim vocalization of different intensity to warn about danger or express positive and negative emotions. People use verbal signals for everything he perceives through the receptors. Words are abstraction of reality and allow generalization, processing of surrounding primary information. Verbal instructions may direct human activity, give suggestion about proper mode of behavior. This is programming function of speech. Programming function of speech involves emotional component also, which may influence to emotional status of a person. As limbic system, which controls emotions, has direct connection with autonomic nervous system. So speech through emotions may influence to functions of visceral organs. Physician may use this effect for psychotherapy. It is necessary remember about jatrogenic disorders also.

Linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf contended that language determines the way we think. According to Whorf’s linguistic determinism hypothesis, different languages impose different conceptions of reality: “Language itself shapes a man’s basic ideas.” The Hopi, Whorf noted, have no past tense for their verbs. Therefore, he contended, a Hopi could not so readily think about the past.

To say that language determines the way we think is much too strong. But to those who speak two dissimilar languages, such as English and Japanese, it seems obvious that a person may think differently in different languages. Unlike English, which has a rich vocabulary for self-focused emotions such as anger, Japanese has more words for interpersonal emotions such as sympathy. Many bilinguals report that they have different senses of self, depending on which language they are using. They may even reveal different personality profiles when taking the same test in their two languages. “Learn a new language and get a new soul,” says a Czech proverb.

Michael Ross, Elaine Xun, and Anne Wilson demonstrated this by inviting China-born, bilingual University of Waterloo students to describe themselves in English or Chinese. English-language versions of self-descriptions fit typical Canadian profiles: Students expressed mostly positive self-statements and moods. Responding in Chinese, students gave typically Chinese self-descriptions: They reported more agreement with Chinese values and roughly equal positive and negative selfstatements and moods. Their language use seemed to shape how they thought of themselves.

A similar personality change occurs as people shift between the cultural frames associated with English and Spanish. English speakers score higher than Spanish speakers on measures of extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientious. But is this a language effect? Nairán Ramírez-Esparza and her co-workers wondered. So they had samples of bicultural, bilingual Americans and Mexicans take the tests in each language. Sure enough, when using English they expressed their somewhat more extraverted, agreeable, and conscientious selves (and the differences were not due to how the questionnaires were translated).

So our words may not determine what we think, but they do influence our thinking. We use our language in forming categories. In Brazil, the isolated Piraha tribespeople have words for the numbers 1 and 2, but numbers above that are simply “many.” Thus if shown 7 nuts in a row, they find it very difficult to lay out the same number from their own pile.

Words also influence our thinking about colors. Whether we live in New Mexico, New South Wales, or New Guinea, we see colors much the same, but we use our native language to classify and remember colors. If that language is English, you might view three colors and call two of them “yellow” and one of them “blue.” Later you would likely see and recall the yellows as being more similar. But if you were a member of Papua New Guinea’s Berinmo tribe, which has words for two different shades of yellow, you would better recall the distinctions between the two yellows.

Perceived differences grow when we assign different names to colors. On the color spectrum, blue blends into green—until we draw a dividing line between the portions we call “blue” and “green.”

Psychological research on thinking and language mirrors the mixed views of our species by those in fields such as literature and religion. The human mind is simultaneously capable of striking intellectual failures and of striking intellectual power. Misjudgments are common and can have disastrous consequences. So we do well to appreciate our capacity for error. Yet our efficient heuristics often serve us well. Moreover, our ingenuity at problem solving and our extraordinary power of language mark humankind as almost “infinite in faculties.”

 

 

Thinking in Images.

We sometimes think in images rather than in words, and we invent new words or new combinations of old words to describe new ideas. So we might say that our thinking affects our language, which then affects our thought.

The prefrontal association area is essential to carrying out thought processes in the mind. This presumably results from some of the same capabilities of the prefrontal cortex that allow it to plan motor activities.

The prefrontal association area  is frequently described  as important for elaboration of thoughts to store on a short-term basis “working memories” that are used to analyze each new thought while it is entering the braine. The somatic, visual, and auditory association areas all meet one another in the posterior part of the superior temporal lobe. This area is especially highly developed in the dominant side of the brain – the left side in almost all right-handed people.

It plays the greatest single role of any part of cerebral cortex in the higher comprehensive levels of brain function that we call intelligence. This zone is also called general interpretative area, the gnostic area, the knowing area, tertiary association area. It is best known as Wernike’s area in honor of the neurologist who first describes it.

 

Peculiarities of Human and Animal Thinking and Language.

Evidence accumulates that primates at some level form concepts, display insight, create and use tools, and transmit cultural innovations. Many researchers feel that great apes’ mental accomplishments rival those of a 2-year-old human.

Another vigorously debated issue is whether language is uniquely human. Animals obviously communicate. Bees, for example, communicate the location of food through an intricate combination of dance and sound. But can this form of communication be considered language?

 

It is adaptive for chimpanzees to be able to monitor lots of information in their natural environment. This might explain how chimpanzee Ai can remember and tap numbers in ascending order, even after they are covered by white boxes.

 

Our closest genetic relatives are the chimpanzees. Several teams of psychologists have taught various species of apes, including a number of chimpanzees, to communicate with humans by signing or by pushing buttons wired to a computer. Apes have developed considerable vocabularies. They string words together to express meaning and to make and follow requests. Skeptics point out important differences between apes’ and humans’ facilities with language, especially in their respective abilities to order words using proper syntax. Nevertheless, these studies reveal that apes have considerable cognitive ability.

Both humans and the great apes form concepts, display insight, use and create tools, exhibit numerical abilities, and transmit cultural innovations. A number of chimpanzees have learned to communicate with humans by signing or by push ing buttons wired to a computer, have developed vocabularies of nearly 200 words, have communicated by stringing these words together, and have taught their skills to younger animals. Only humans can master the verbal or signed expression of complex rules of syntax. Nevertheless, primates and other animals demonstrate impressive abilities to think and communicate.

Animals are smarter than we often realize. A baboon knows everyone’s voices within its 80-member troop. Sheep can recognize and remember individual faces. A marmoset can learn from and imitate others. Great apes and even monkeys can  form concepts. When monkeys learn to classify cats and dogs, certain frontal lobe neurons in their brains fire in response to new “catlike” images, others to new “doglike” images. Even pigeons—mere birdbrains—can sort objects (pictures of cars, cats, chairs, flowers). Shown a picture of a never-beforeseen chair, pigeons will reliably peck a key that represents the category “chairs”.

We also are not the only creatures to display insight, as psychologist Wolfgang Köhler demonstrated in an experiment with Sultan, a chimpanzee. Köhler placed a piece of fruit and a long stick well beyond Sultan’s reach, and a short stick inside his cage. Spying the short stick, Sultan grabbed it and tried to reach the fruit. After several unsuccessful attempts, Sultan dropped the stick and seemed to survey the situation. Then suddenly, as if thinking “Aha!” he jumped up, seized the short stick again, and used it to pull in the longer stick—which he then used to reach the fruit. This evidence of animal cognition, said Köhler, showed that there is more to learning than conditioning. What is more, apes will even exhibit foresight, by storing a tool that they can use to retrieve food the next day.

Chimpanzees, like humans, are shaped by reinforcement when they solve problems. Forest-dwelling chimpanzees have become  natural tool users. They break off a reed or a stick, strip the twigs and leaves, carry it to a termite mound, fish for termites by twisting it just so, and then carefully remove it without scraping off many termites. They even select different tools for different purposes—a heavy stick to puncture holes, a light, flexible stick for fishing. One anthropologist, trying to mimic the chimpanzee’s deft termite fishing, failed miserably.

Some animals also display a surprising numerical ability. Over two decades, Kyoto University researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa has studied chimpanzees’ ability to remember and relate numbers. In one experiment, a chimpanzee named Ai taps, in ascending order, numbers randomly displayed on a computer screen.

Animals, and chimpanzees in particular, display remarkable talents. They form concepts, display insight, fashion tools, exhibit numerical abilities, and transmit local cultural behaviors. Chimpanzees and two species of monkeys can even read your intent. They would show more interest in a food container that you have intentionally grasped rather than one you flopped your hand on, as if by accident (Wood et al, 2007). Great apes, dolphins, and elephants have also demonstrated self-awareness (by recognizing themselves in a mirror). And as social creatures, chimpanzees have shown altruism, cooperation, and group aggression. But do they, like humans, exhibit language?

Without doubt, animals communicate. Vervet monkeys have different alarm cries for different predators: a barking call for a leopard, a cough for an eagle, and a chuttering for a snake. Hearing the leopard alarm, other vervets climb the nearest tree. Hearing the eagle alarm, they rush into the bushes. Hearing the snake chutter, they stand up and scan the ground. Whales also communicate, with clicks and wails. Honeybees do a dance that informs other bees of the direction and distance of the food source.

And what shall we say of dogs’ ability to understand us? Border collie Rico knows and can fetch 200 items by name. Moreover, reports a team of psychologists at Leipzig’s Max Planck Institute, if he is asked to retrieve a novel toy with a name he has never heard, Rico will pick out the novel item from among a group of familiar items. Hearing that novel word for the second time four weeks later, he as often as not retrieves the object. Such feats show animals’ comprehension and communication. But is this language?

The provocative claims that “apes share our capacity for language” and the skeptical counterclaims that “apes no use language” (as Washoe might have put it) have moved psychologists toward a greater appreciation of apes’ remarkable abilities and of our own. Most now agree that humans alone possess language, if by the term we mean verbal or signed expression of complex grammar. If we mean, more simply, an ability to communicate through a meaningful sequence of symbols, then apes are indeed capable of language.

Believing that animals could not think, Descartes and other philosophers argued that they were living robots without any moral rights. Animals, it has been said at one time or another, cannot plan, conceptualize, count, use tools, show compassion, or use language. Today, we know better. Animal researchers have shown us that primates exhibit insight, show family loyalty, communicate with one another, display altruism, transmit cultural patterns across generations, and comprehend the syntax of human speech. Accepting and working out the moral implications of all this is an unfinished task for our own thinking species.

 

FUNCTIONAL BASIS OF INTELLIGENCE

Intelligence

One enduring problem has been our definition of intelligence, which has undergone various changes. Today intelligence is commonly defined as the capacity to learn from experience and to adapt to new situations. This approach has the advantage of being applicable at various phylogenetic levels, but it does not show the complexity of our current views.

First, there is the question of measuring intelligence, a bold idea at its inception early in this century and still disputed today. Second, people with exceptional intelligence pose a special problem. What educational opportunities should be offered to these minority groups, the retarded and gifted? Third, the age-old issue of the origins of intelligence has prompted some people to emphasize heredity, others to focus upon the environment, and still others to stress that both factors are complexly involved. Fourth, there is the question of what happens to our intelligence as we grow older, a controversy that psychologists themselves unwittingly initiated.

The modern conception emphasizes that intelligence is not a one-dimensional function. It is multifaceted, a composite of abilities required for adjustment or survival. This view was foreshadowed early in this century when 17 specialists were called together partly for the purpose of defining intelligence, and a like number of definitions emerged.

 

 

Factor analysis is a statistical procedure that has revealed some underlying commonalities in different mental abilities. Spearman named this common factor the g factor. Thurstone argued against defining intelligence so narrowly as just one score. He identified seven different clusters of mental abilities. Yet there remained a tendency for high scorers in one of his clusters to score high in other clusters as well. Our g scores seem most predictive in novel situations and do not much correlate with skills in evolutionarily familiar situations.

Gardner proposes eight independent intelligences: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, intrapersonal, interpersonal, and naturalist. Sternberg’s theory has proposed three intelligence domains: analytical (academic problem-solving), creative, and practical.

The g Factor

At that time it had been observed that subtests of intelligence are correlated and that subtests for aptitude also have similarities. On this basis an English psychologist hypothesized that the different items in different tests measure some common factor, called general intelligence, or g, and that many different skills involve this common factor. Mechanical ability, musical ability, mathematical ability, and others show a correlation with one another because certain amounts of g are required in all instances.

 

A frontal view of the brain shows some of the areas where gray matter is concentrated in people with high intelligence scores,

and where g may therefore be concentrated.

 

In addition to g, it was argued, each skill calls for at least one specific ability, or s, which pertains to a particular field. Facility in mathematics requires a certain amount of g and also specific mathematical abilities, such as ability to factor, ability to multiply, and so forth, which would be the s's in mathematical performance. Similarly, mechanical skill would require mechanical s's, as well as a certain amount of g.

This view, accepted by some, raised in the minds of others the possibility of some intermediate factors in intelligence, not as broad as g or as narrow as s. In mathematics, for example, perhaps a factor like number ability stood between general intelligence and the ability to multiply. If so, several such factors might account for most human intellectual capacity.

Following this reasoning, American psychologists attempted to identify the group factors, rather than a g and highly specific s factors, and eventually they defined seven primary mental abilities, readily measured by their tests. These components of intelligence were word fluency, number ability, verbal comprehension, memory, reasoning, spatial relations, and perceptual speed.

These abilities were identified by a statistical method called factor analysis, which reduces many data to a few basic elements, essentially through analysis of the intercorrelations. Test scores that cluster together belong to the same element or factor, and on this basis many factor analyses were accomplished.

One problem in all of these efforts was that some intercorrelations remained even after the factor analysis. The factors were not entirely separate from one another, perhaps because there was still some g factor present. Another problem was that these factors, after they had been identified on a statistical basis, had to be labeled or otherwise designated, a procedure that is sometimes arbitrary. In short, this approach, which has demonstrated relationships among the elements, has failed to yield the specific factors of intelligence. We do not yet know the most basic components, and estimates of their number have ranged increasingly upward in recent years. All we can say is that the early g factor, even though provocative and of historical interest, appears oversimplified today.

A Three-Dimensional Model The most comprehensive multifactor theory to dateconsiders intellectual ability in terms of three dimensions: how information is processed, which is called operations; what information is involved, which is called contents; and the results, which are called products. These dimensions are subdivided into five, four, and six parts, respectively, making a cubic model with 120 elements. These 120 potential intellectual abilities define the structure-of-intellect (SI) model.

The operations dimension has been discussed indirectly in the chapters on cognition and memory. More than the others, it concerns specific mental functions. One operation, for example, is memory, which involves the storage and retrieval of information. Another is convergent thinking, in which stored information is used in a search for one particular answer to a problem.

The contents dimension involves the various kinds of information that might be dealt with intellectually. It might include symbolic information, such as the letters and numbers in language and mathematics. It might involve behavioral information, colloquially called "body language." Here human reactions are sometimes studied in an effort to comprehend the underlying feelings, and the process is said to require social intelligence. A very bright mathematician, for example, is not necessarily astute with people.

Nonintellectual Factors

It has also been suggested that intelligence should not be equated solely with mental operations. Nonintellectual factors, such as persistence, goal awareness, and a concern with social values, have been stressed as well. Motivation and objectives may be considered part of one's intellectual functioning, together with the ability to perceive, memorize, think abstractly, and so forth.

Intelligence, according to this view, is not only rational and purposeful but also worthwhile. A value judgment is fundamentally involved, as it is in our definition of almost any abstract concept. This approach extends the concept of intelligence a great deal, perhaps beyond the point at which it continues to be useful. It also shows the potential breadth of this topic. And finally, it indicates that the problem in defining intelligence clearly limits the interpretation of results from any test designed to measure it.

Fortunately, a concept can be quite useful even without a universally accepted definition—beyond that of versatility in adaptation in the case of intelligence. All of our most important concepts—including justice, beauty, and even life itself—are inevitably the most difficult to define.

Recent studies indicate some correlation (about +.33) between brain size (adjusted for body size) and intelligence score. Highly educated or intelligent people exhibit an above-average volume of synapses and gray matter. People who score high on intelligence tests tend also to have speedy brains that retrieve information and perceive stimuli quickly.

The stability of intelligence test scores increases with age. By age 4, scores fluctuate somewhat but begin to predict adolescent and adult scores. At about age 7, scores become fairly stable and consistent.

 

Intelligence and Creativity.

Creativity is the ability to produce novel and valuable ideas. It correlates somewhat with intelligence, but beyond a score of 120, that correlation dwindles. It also correlates with expertise, imaginative thinking skills, a venturesome personality, intrinsic motivation, and the support offered by a creative environment.

Sternberg and his colleagues have identified five components of creativity:

1. Expertise, a well-developed base of knowledge, furnishes the ideas, images, and phrases we use as mental building blocks. “Chance favors only the prepared mind,” observed Louis Pasteur. The more blocks we have, the more chances we have to combine them in novel ways. Wiles’ well-developed base of knowledge put the needed theorems and methods at his disposal.

2. Imaginative thinking skills provide the ability to see things in novel ways, to recognize patterns, and to make connections. Having mastered a problem’s basic elements, we redefine or explore it in a new way. Copernicus first developed expertise regarding the solar system and its planets, and then creatively defined the system as revolving around the Sun, not the Earth. Wiles’ imaginative solution combined two partial solutions.

3. A venturesome personality seeks new experiences, tolerates ambiguity and risk, and perseveres in overcoming obstacles. Inventor Thomas Edison tried countless substances before finding the right one for his lightbulb filament. Wiles said he labored in near-isolation from the mathematics community partly to stay focused and avoid distraction. Venturing encounters with different cultures also fosters creativity.

4. Intrinsic motivation is being driven more by interest, satisfaction, and challenge than by external pressures. Creative people focus less on extrinsic motivators—meeting deadlines, impressing people, or making money—than on the pleasure and stimulation of the work itself. Asked how he solved such difficult scientific problems, Isaac Newton reportedly answered, “By thinking about them all the time.” Wiles concurred: “I was so obsessed by this problem that for eight years I was thinking about it all the time—when I woke up in the morning to when I went to sleep at night”.

5. A creative environment sparks, supports, and refines creative ideas. After studying the careers of 2026 prominent scientists and inventors, Dean Keith Simonton noted that the most eminent among them were mentored, challenged, and supported by their relationships with colleagues. Many have the emotional intelligence needed to network effectively with peers. Even Wiles stood on the shoulders of others and wrestled his problem with the collaboration of a former student. Creativity-fostering environments often support contemplation. After Jonas Salk solved a problem that led to the polio vaccine while in a monastery, he designed the Salk Institute to provide contemplative spaces where scientists could work without interruption.

 

Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, understand, manage, and use emotions. Those with higher emotional intelligence achieve greater personal and professional success. However, critics question whether we stretch the idea of intelligence too far when we apply it to emotions.

Emotional Intelligence DISC Profile

The social intelligence have called by John Mayer, Peter Salovey, and David Caruso as emotional intelligence. They have developed a test that assesses four emotional intelligence components, which are the abilities to

• perceive emotions (to recognize them in faces, music, and stories).

• understand emotions (to predict them and how they change and blend).

• manage emotions (to know how to express them in varied situations).

• use emotions to enable adaptive or creative thinking.

Mindful of popular misuses of their concept, Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso caution against stretching “emotional intelligence” to include varied traits such as selfesteem and optimism, although emotionally intelligent people are self-aware. In both the United States and Germany, those scoring high on managing emotions enjoy higher-quality interactions with friends. They avoid being hijacked by overwhelming depression, anxiety, or anger. They can read others’ emotions and know what to say to soothe a grieving friend, encourage a colleague, and manage a conflict. Such findings may help explain why, across 69 studies in many countries, those scoring high in emotional intelligence also exhibit modestly better job performance. They can delay gratification in pursuit of long-range rewards, rather than being overtaken by immediate impulses. Simply said, they are emotionally in tune with others, and thus they often succeed in career, marriage, and parenting situations where academically smarter (but emotionally less intelligent) people fail.

Brain damage reports have provided extreme examples of the results of diminished emotional intelligence in people with high general intelligence. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio tells of Elliot, who had a brain tumor removed: “I never saw a tinge of emotion in my many hours of conversation with him, no sadness, no impatience, no frustration.” Shown disturbing pictures of injured people, destroyed communities, and natural disasters, Elliot showed—and realized he felt—no emotion. He knew but he could not feel. Unable to intuitively adjust his behavior in response to others’ feelings, Elliot lost his job. He went bankrupt. His marriage collapsed. He remarried and divorced again. At last report, he was dependent on custodial care from a sibling and a disability check.

Some scholars, however, are concerned that emotional intelligence stretches the concept of intelligence too far. Multiple-intelligence man Howard Gardner welcomes our stretching the concept into the realms of space, music, and information about ourselves and others. But let us also, he says, respect emotional sensitivity, creativity, and motivation as important but different. Stretch “intelligence” to include everything we prize and it will lose its meaning.

 

The Origins of Intelligence Testing.

In France in 1904, Alfred Binet started the modern intelligencetesting movement by developing questions that helped predict children’s future progress in the Paris school system. Lewis Terman of Stanford University revised Binet’s work for use in the United States. Terman believed his Stanford-Binet could help guide people toward appropriate opportunities, but more than Binet, he believed intelligence is inherited. During the early part of the twentieth century, intelligence tests were sometimes used to “document” scientists’ assumptions about the innate inferiority of certain ethnic and immigrant groups.

Alfred Binet: Predicting School Achievement

The modern intelligence-testing movement began at the turn of the twentieth century, when France passed a law requiring that all children attend school. Some children, including many newcomers to Paris, seemed incapable of benefiting from the regular school curriculum and in need of special classes. But how could the schools objectively identify children with special needs?

The French government hesitated to trust teachers’ subjective judgments of children’s learning potential. Academic slowness might merely reflect inadequate prior education. Also, teachers might prejudge children on the basis of their social backgrounds. To minimize bias, France’s minister of public education in 1904 commissioned Alfred Binet and others to study the problem.

Binet and his collaborator, Théodore Simon, began by assuming that all children follow the same course of intellectual development but that some develop more rapidly. On tests, therefore, a “dull” child should perform as does a typical younger child, and a “bright” child as does a typical older child. Thus, their goal became measuring each child’s mental age, the level of performance typically associated with a certain chronological age. The average 9-year-old, for example, has a mental age of 9.

Children with below-average mental ages, such as 9-year-olds who perform at the level of a typical 7-year-old, would struggle with schoolwork considered normal for their age. To measure mental age, Binet and Simon theorized that mental aptitude, like athletic aptitude, is a general capacity that shows up in various ways. After testing a variety of reasoning and problem-solving questions on Binet’s two daughters, and then on “bright” and “backward” Parisian schoolchildren, Binet and Simon identified items that would predict how well French children would handle their schoolwork.

Note that Binet and Simon made no assumptions concerning why a particular child was slow, average, or precocious. Binet personally leaned toward an environmental explanation. To raise the capacities of low-scoring children, he recommended “mental orthopedics” that would train them to develop their attention span and selfdiscipline. He believed his intelligence test did not measure inborn intelligence as a meter stick measures height. Rather, it had a single practical purpose: to identify French schoolchildren needing special attention. Binet hoped his test would be used to improve children’s education, but he also feared it would be used to label children and limit their opportunities.

Lewis Terman: The Innate IQ

Binet’s fears were realized soon after his death in 1911, when others adapted his tests for use as a numerical measure of inherited intelligence. This began when Stanford University professor Lewis Terman (1877–1956) found that the Paris-developed questions and age norms worked poorly with California schoolchildren. Adapting some of Binet’s original items, adding others, and establishing new age norms, Terman extended the upper end of the test’s range from teenagers to “superior adults.” He also gave his revision the name it retains today—the Stanford-Binet.

From such tests, German psychologist William Stern derived the famous intelligence quotient, or IQ. The IQ was simply a person’s mental age divided by chronological age and multiplied by 100 to get rid of the decimal point:

IQ = (mental age/chronological age) x100

Thus, an average child, whose mental and chronological ages are the same, has an IQ of 100. But an 8-year-old who answers questions as would a typical 10-year-old has an IQ of 125.

The original IQ formula worked fairly well for children but not for adults. (Should a 40-year-old who does as well on the test as an average 20-year-old be assigned an IQ of only 50?) Most current intelligence tests, including the Stanford-Binet, no longer compute an IQ (though the term IQ still lingers in everyday vocabulary as a shorthand expression for “intelligence test score”). Instead, they represent the test-taker’s performance relative to the average performance of others the same age. This average performance is arbitrarily assigned a score of 100, and about two-thirds of all test-takers fall between 85 and 115.

Terman promoted the widespread use of intelligence testing. His motive was to “take account of the inequalities of children in original endowment” by assessing their “vocational fitness.” In sympathy with eugenics—a much-criticized nineteenthcentury movement that proposed measuring human traits and using the results to encourage only smart and fit people to reproduce—Terman envisioned that the use of intelligence tests would “ultimately result in curtailing the reproduction of feeble-mindedness and in the elimination of an enormous amount of crime, pauperism, and industrial inefficiency”.

With Terman’s help, the U.S. government developed new tests to evaluate both

newly arriving immigrants and World War I army recruits—the world’s first mass administration of an intelligence test. To some psychologists, the results indicated the inferiority of people not sharing their Anglo-Saxon heritage. Such findings were part of the cultural climate that led to a 1924 immigration law that reduced Southern and Eastern European immigration quotas to less than a fifth of those for Northern and Western Europe.

Binet probably would have been horrified that his test had been adapted and used to draw such conclusions. Indeed, such sweeping judgments did become an embarrassment to most of those who championed testing. Even Terman came to appreciate that test scores reflected not only people’s innate mental abilities but also their education and their familiarity with the culture assumed by the test. Nevertheless, abuses of the early intelligence tests serve to remind us that science can be value-laden. Behind a screen of scientific objectivity, ideology sometimes lurks.

 

Modern Tests of Mental Abilities.

By this point in your life, you’ve faced dozens of ability tests: school tests of basic reading and math skills, course exams, intelligence tests, and driver’s license exams, to name just a few. Psychologists classify such tests as either achievement tests, intended to reflect what you have learned, or aptitude tests, intended to predict your ability to learn a new skill. Exams covering what you have learned in this course are achievement tests. A college entrance exam, which seeks to predict your ability to do college work, is an aptitude test—a “thinly disguised intelligence test,” says Howard Gardner. Indeed, report Meredith Frey and Douglas Detterman, total scores on the U.S. SAT (formerly called the U.S. Scholastic Aptitude Test) correlated +.82 with general intelligence scores in a national sample of 14- to 21-year-olds.

Actually, the differences between achievement and aptitude tests are not so clearcut. Your achieved vocabulary influences your score on most aptitude tests. Similarly, your  aptitudes for learning and test-taking influence your grades on achievement tests. Most tests, whether labeled achievement or aptitude, assess both ability and its development. Practically speaking, however, achievement tests assess current performance and aptitude tests predict future performance.

Aptitude tests aim to predict how well a test-taker will perform in a given situation. So they are necessarily “biased” in the sense that they are sensitive to performance differences caused by cultural experience. But bias can also mean what psychologists commonly mean by the term—that a test predicts less accurately for one group than for another. In this sense of the term, most experts consider the major aptitude tests unbiased. Stereotype threat, a self-confirming concern that one will be evaluated based on a negative stereotype, affects performance on all kinds of tests.

 

Block design puzzles test the ability to analyze patterns. Wechsler’s individually administered intelligence test comes in forms suited for adults (WAIS) and children (WISC).

 

Aptitude tests are designed to predict what you can learn. Achievement tests are designed to assess what you have learned. The WAIS (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale), an aptitude test, is the most widely used intelligence test for adults. Such tests must be standardized, by giving the test to a representative sample of future test-takers to establish a basis for meaningful score comparisons. The distribution of test scores often form a normal, bell-shaped curve. Tests must also be reliable, by yielding consistent scores (on two halves of the test, or when people are retested). And they must be valid. A valid test measures or predicts what it is supposed to. Content validity is the extent to which a test samples the pertinent behavior (as a driving test measures driving ability). Predictive validity is the extent to which the test predicts a behavior it is designed to predict (aptitude tests have predictive ability if they can predict future achievements).

Psychologist David Wechsler created what is now the most widely used intelligence test, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS), with a version for school-age children (the  Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children [WISC]), and another for preschool children. As illustrated in FIGURE 10.5, the WAIS consists of 11 subtests broken into verbal and performance areas. It yields not only an overall intelligence score, as does the Stanford-Binet, but also separate scores for verbal comprehension, perceptual organization, working memory, and processing speed. Striking differences among these scores can provide clues to cognitive strengths or weaknesses that teachers or therapists can build upon. For example, a low verbal comprehension score combined with high scores on other subtests could indicate a reading or language disability. Other comparisons can help a psychologist or psychiatrist establish a rehabilitation plan for a stroke patient. Such uses are possible, of course, only when we can trust the test results.

Surveys have shown a scale of occupations according to intellectual ability,but equally significant is the broad range of scores at every level, which overlap among all occupations. As far as global intelligence is concerned, there is no evidence to support differences between the sexes.

Intelligence is difficult to define, but most definitions generally refer to some aspect of flexibility or versatility of adjustment. Its measurement is often accomplished by individual intelligence tests: the Stanford-Binet, from which the concept of mental age (MA) and the intelligence quotient (IQ) developed; and the Wechsler Scales, which feature a wide variety of subtests with both verbal and non-verbal items.

Those with intelligence test scores below 70, the cut-off mark for the diagnosis of mental retardation (now often called intellectual disability), vary from near-normal to those requiring constant aid and supervision. Down syndrome is a form of retardation with a physical cause—an extra copy of chromosome 21. High-scoring people, contrary to popular myths, tend to be healthy and well-adjusted, as well as unusually successful academically. Schools sometimes “track” such children, separating them from those with lower scores. Such programs can become self-fulfilling prophecies as children live up to—or down to—others’ perceptions of their ability.

Intelligence is now considered to be a composite of specific abilities rather than a unitary function. This view is reflected in factor analysis, a statistical procedure used to discover the basic components of mental ability, but these efforts have been only partially successful. They have guided various theories of intelligence, such as the structure-of-intellect model, which postulates many distinct intellectual abilities.

To be widely accepted, psychological tests must meet three criteria: They must be standardized, reliable, and valid. The Stanford-Binet and Wechsler tests meet these requirements.

Standardization

The number of questions you answer correctly on an intelligence test would tell us almost nothing. To evaluate your performance, we need a basis for comparing it with others’ performance. To enable meaningful comparisons, test-makers first give the test to a representative sample of people. When you later take the test following the same procedures, your scores can be compared with the sample’s scores to determine your position relative to others. This process of defining meaningful scores relative to a pretested group is called standardization.

Group members’ scores typically are distributed in a bell-shaped pattern that forms the normal curve. No matter what we measure—heights, weights, or mental aptitudes—people’s scores tend to form this roughly symmetrical shape. On an intelligence test, we call the midpoint, the average score, 100. Moving out from the average, toward either extreme, we find fewer and fewer people. For both the Stanford-Binet and the Wechsler tests, a person’s score indicates whether that person’s performance fell above or below the average.

 

Genetic and Environmental Influences on Intelligence.

Intelligence and Personal Factors

In cross-sectional investigations, different subjects are studied at different ages. In the longitudinal method, the same subjects are studied as they grow older. Cultural change is an additional influence in both approaches, and when control procedures are used to correct for cultural improvements, it is found that mental growth continues into the fifth decade and later, providing that the individual is engaged in stimulating mental activities. The highest levels of performance for the different mental abilities are reached at different ages.

Studies of twins, family members, and adoptees together point to a significant hereditary contribution to intelligence scores. The search is under way for genes that together contribute to intelligence. Yet research also provides evidence of environmental influence. The intelligence test scores of fraternal twins raised together are more similar than those of other siblings, and the scores of identical twins raised apart are slightly less similar (though still very highly correlated) than the scores of identical twins raised together. Other studies, of children reared in extremely impoverished, enriched, or culturally different environments, indicate that life experiences can significantly influence intelligence test performance.

Exceptional Intelligence

Mentally retarded persons, comprising the lower 2 percent of the population in measured intelligence, are classified as totally dependent, trainable, or educable. Causal factors in mental retardation include genetic factors, in which a defective brain or defective biochemistry is inherited; health factors, involving malnutrition, infection, intoxication, and brain injury; cultural deprivation, in which there is an absence of the usual early learning experiences; and emotional factors, which can accompany any sort of mental retardation.

Mentally gifted persons comprise the upper 2 percent of the population in mental ability, and generally they are more physically fit, socially adept, and traditionally moral than the general population. Educational programs for the gifted are less structured and proceed more rapidiy than those for other children. They also stress research skills and originality; these goals are achieved partly by permitting such students to work together on a multigrade basis.

Origins of Intelligence

The nature-nurture controversy has a long history, extending through many studies of national and racial differences. The question of the genetic basis of group differences is impossible to answer for several reasons, chiefly the absence of satisfactory tests and the difficulty in establishing appropriate samples of subjects.

The most promising research on the origins of intelligence involves comparison of identical twins reared apart, but even these investigations afford diverse interpretations. The influences of heredity and environment are always present and they depend upon one another. The significant issue is to understand their interaction in the production of intelligence.

Males and females average the same in overall intelligence. There are, however, some small but intriguing gender differences in specific abilities. Girls are better spellers, more verbally fluent, better at locating objects, better at detecting emotions, and more sensitive to touch, taste, and color. Boys outperform girls at spatial ability and related mathematics, though girls outperform boys in math computation. Boys also outnumber girls at the low and high extremes of mental abilities. Psychologists debate evolutionary, brain-based, and cultural explanations of such gender differences. As a group, Whites score higher than their Hispanic and Black counterparts, though the gap is not as great as it was half a century and more ago. The evidence suggests that environmental differences are largely, perhaps entirely responsible for these group differences.

 

MOTIVATION AND WORK

Motivational Concepts.

Motivation is the energizing and directing of behavior, the force behind our yearning for food, our longing for sexual intimacy, our need to belong, and our desire to achieve.

The instinct/evolutionary perspective explores genetic influences on complex behaviors. Drive-reduction theory explores how physiological needs create aroused tension states (drives) that direct us to satisfy those needs. Arousal theory proposes a motivation for behaviors, such as curiosity-driven behaviors, that do not reduce physiological needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs proposes a pyramid of human needs, from basic needs such as hunger and thirst up to higher-level needs such as actualization and transcendence.

 

Instincts and Evolutionary Psychology.

Under Darwin’s influence, early theorists viewed behavior as controlled by biological forces, such as specific instincts. When it became clear that people were naming, not explaining, various behaviors by calling them instincts, this approach fell into disfavor. The underlying idea—that genes predispose species-typical behavior—is, however, still influential in evolutionary psychology.

Early in the twentieth century, as the influence of Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory grew, it became fashionable to classify all sorts of behaviors as instincts. If people criticized themselves, it was because of their “self-abasement instinct.” If they boasted, it reflected their “self-assertion instinct.” After scanning 500 books, one sociologist compiled a list of 5759 supposed human instincts! Before long, this fad for naming instincts collapsed under its own weight. Rather than explaining human behaviors, the early instinct theorists were simply naming them. It was like “explaining” a bright child’s low grades by labeling the child an “underachiever.” To name a behavior is not to explain it.

To qualify as an instinct, a complex behavior must have a fixed pattern throughout a species and be unlearned. Such behaviors are common in other species. Human behavior, too, exhibits certain unlearned fixed patterns, including infants’ innate reflexes for rooting and sucking. Most psychologists, though, view human behavior as directed both by physiological needs and by psychological wants.

Although instinct theory failed to explain human motives, the underlying assumption that genes predispose species-typical behavior remains as strong as ever.

 

Drives and Incentives.

Drive reduction theory states that most physiological needs create aroused psychological states, driving us to reduce or satisfy those needs. The aim of drive reduction is internal stability, or homeostasis. Thus, drive reduction motivates survival behaviors, such as eating and drinking. Not only are we pushed by our internal drives, we are also pulled by external incentives. Depending on our personal experiences, some stimuli (for example, certain foods) will arouse our desires.

When the original instinct theory of motivation collapsed, it was replaced by drivereduction theory—the idea that a physiological need creates an aroused state that drives the organism to reduce the need by, say, eating or drinking. With few exceptions, when a physiological need increases, so does a psychological drive—an aroused, motivated state.

The physiological aim of drive reduction is homeostasis—the maintenance of a steady internal state. An example of homeostasis (literally “staying the same”) is the body’s temperature-regulation system, which works like a room thermostat. Both systems operate through feedback loops: Sensors feed room temperature to a control device. If the room temperature cools, the control device switches on the furnace. Likewise, if our body temperature cools, blood vessels constrict to conserve warmth, and we feel driven to put on more clothes or seek a warmer environment. Not only are we pushed by our “need” to reduce drives, we also are pulled by incentives—positive or negative stimuli that lure or repel us. This is one way our individual learning histories influence our motives. Depending on our learning, the aroma of good food, whether fresh roasted peanuts or toasted ants, can motivate our behavior. So can the sight of those we find attractive or threatening.

When there is both a need and an incentive, we feel strongly driven. The fooddeprived person who smells baking bread feels a strong hunger drive. In the presence of that drive, the baking bread becomes a compelling incentive. For each motive, we can therefore ask, “How is it pushed by our inborn physiological needs and pulled by incentives in the environment?”

 

Optimum Arousal.

Rather than reducing a physiological need or tension state, some motivated behaviors increase arousal. Curiosity-driven behaviors, for example, suggest that too little as well as too much stimulation can motivate people to seek an optimum level of arousal.

We are much more than homeostatic systems, however. Some motivated behaviors actually increase arousal. Well-fed animals will leave their shelter to explore and gain information, seemingly in the absence of any need-based drive. Curiosity drives monkeys to monkey around trying to figure out how to unlock a latch that opens nothing or how to open a window that allows them to see outside their room. It drives the 9-month-old infant who investigates every accessible corner of the house. It drives the scientists whose work this text discusses. And it drives explorers and adventurers such as Aron Ralston and George Mallory. Asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, Mallory answered, “Because it is there.” Those who, like Mallory and Ralston, enjoy high arousal are most likely to enjoy intense music, novel foods, and risky behaviors.

So, human motivation aims not to eliminate arousal but to seek optimum levels of arousal. Having all our biological needs satisfied, we feel driven to experience stimulation and we hunger for information. We are “infovores,” say neuroscientists Irving Biederman and Edward Vessel, after identifying brain mechanisms that reward us for acquiring information. Lacking stimulation, we feel bored and look for a way to increase arousal to some optimum level. However, with too much stimulation comes stress, and we then look for a way to decrease arousal.

 

A Hierarchy of Motives.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs expresses the idea that, until satisfied, some motives are more compelling than others. It indicates that physiological needs must first be met, then safety, followed by the need for belongingness and love, and finally, esteem needs. Once all of these are met, a person is motivated to meet the need for self-actualization. This order of needs is not universally fixed but it provides a framework for thinking about motivation.

 

Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs

 

Some needs take priority over others. At this moment, with your needs for air and water hopefully satisfied, other motives—such as your desire to achieve (discussed later in this chapter)—are energizing and directing your behavior. Let your need for water go unsatisfied and your thirst will preoccupy you. Just ask Aron Ralston. Deprived of air, your thirst would disappear.

Abraham Maslow described these priorities as a  hierarchy of needs. At the base of this pyramid are our physiological needs, such as those for food and water. Only if these needs are met are we prompted to meet our need for safety, and then to satisfy the uniquely human needs to give and receive love and to enjoy self-esteem. Beyond this, said Maslow, lies the need to actualize one’s full potential.

Near the end of his life, Maslow proposed that some people also reach a level of self-transcendence. At the self-actualization level, people seek to realize their own potential. At the self-transcendence level, people strive for meaning, purpose, and communion that is beyond the self, that is transpersonal.

Maslow’s hierarchy is somewhat arbitrary; the order of such needs is not universally fixed. People have starved themselves to make a political statement. Nevertheless, the simple idea that some motives are more compelling than others provides a framework for thinking about motivation. Life-satisfaction surveys in 39 nations support this basic idea. In poorer nations that lack easy access to money and the food and shelter it buys, financial satisfaction more strongly predicts feelings of well-being. In wealthy nations, where most are able to meet basic needs, home-life satisfaction is a better predictor. Self-esteem matters most in individualist nations, whose citizens tend to focus more on personal achievements than on family and community identity. Let’s now consider four representative motives, beginning at the physiological level with hunger and working up through sexual motivation to the higher-level needs to belong and to achieve. At each level, we shall see how experience interacts with biology.

 

Hunger.

To learn more about the results of semistarvation, a research team led by physiologist Ancel Keys, the creator of World War II Army K rations, fed 36 male volunteers—all conscientious objectors to the war—just enough to maintain their initial weight. Then, for six months, they cut this food level in half. The effects soon became visible. Without thinking about it, the men began conserving energy; they appeared listless and apathetic. After dropping rapidly, their body weights eventually stabilized at about 25 percent below their starting weights. Especially dramatic were the psychological effects. Consistent with Maslow’s idea of a needs hierarchy, the men became food-obsessed. They talked food. They daydreamed food. They collected recipes, read cookbooks, and feasted their eyes on delectable forbidden foods. Preoccupied with their unfulfilled basic need, they lost interest in sex and social activities.

As one participant reported, “If we see a show, the most interesting part of it is contained in scenes where people are eating. I couldn’t laugh at the funniest picture in the world, and love scenes are completely dull.” The semistarved men’s preoccupations illustrate the power of activated motives to hijack our consciousness. When we are hungry, thirsty, fatigued, or sexually aroused, little else may seem to matter. When you’re not, food, water, sleep, or sex just doesn’t seem like that big a thing in your life, now or ever. In University of Amsterdam studies, Loran Nordgren and his colleagues found that people in a motivational “hot” state (from fatigue, hunger, or sexual arousal) become more aware of having had such feelings in the past and more sympathetic to how fatigue, hunger, or sexual arousal might drive others’ behavior. Similarly, if preschool children are made to feel thirsty (by eating salty pretzels), they understandably want water; but unlike children who are not thirsty, they also choose water over pretzels for “tomorrow”.

Motives matter mightily. Grocery shop with an empty stomach and you are more likely to think that those jelly-filled doughnuts are just what you’ve always loved and will be wanting tomorrow.Hunger’s inner push primarily originates not from the stomach’s contractions but from variations in body chemistry, including hormones that heighten or reduce hunger. For example, we are likely to feel hungry when our glucose levels are low or when ghrelin is secreted by an empty stomach. This information is integrated by the hypothalamus, which regulates the body’s weight as it influences our feelings of hunger and satiety. To maintain weight, the body also adjusts its metabolic rate of energy expenditure.

Hunger’s pangs correspond to the stomach’s contractions, but hunger also has other causes. Appetite hormones include insulin (controls blood glucose), leptin (secreted by fat cells), orexin (secreted by the hypothalamus), ghrelin (secreted by an empty stomach), obestatin (secreted by the stomach), and PYY (secreted by digestive tract). Two areas of the hypothalamus regulate the body’s weight by affecting feelings of hunger and satiety. The body may have a set point (a biologically fixed tendency to maintain an optimum weight) or a looser settling point (also influenced by the environment).

Hunger also reflects learning, our memory of when we last ate, and our expectation of when we should eat again. Humans as a species prefer certain tastes (such as sweet and salty) but we satisfy those preferences with specific foods prescribed by our situation and our culture. Some taste preferences, such as the avoidance of new foods or of foods that have made us ill, have survival value.

 

The Physiology of Hunger.

Our preferences for certain tastes are partly genetic and universal, but also partly learned in a cultural context. The impact of psychological factors, such as challenging family settings and weight-obsessed societal pressures, on eating behavior is dramatic in people with anorexia nervosa, who keep themselves on near-starvation rations, and in those with bulimia nervosa, who binge and purge in secret. In the past half-century a dramatic increase in poor body image has coincided with a rise in eating disorders among women in Western cultures. In addition to cultural pressures, low self-esteem and negative emotions (with a possible genetic component) seem to interact with stressful life experiences to produce anorexia and bulimia.

 

 

Eating Disorders

Our bodies are naturally disposed to maintain a normal weight, including stored energy reserves for times when food becomes unavailable. Yet sometimes psychological influences overwhelm biological wisdom. This becomes painfully clear in three eating disorders.

• Anorexia nervosa typically begins as a weight-loss diet. People with anorexia—usually adolescents and 3 out of 4 times females—drop significantly (typically 15 percent or more) below normal weight. Yet they feel fat, fear gaining weight, and remain obsessed with losing weight. About half of those with anorexia display a binge-purge-depression cycle.

• Bulimia nervosa may also be triggered by a weight-loss diet, broken by gorging on forbidden foods. Binge-purge eaters—mostly women in their late teens or early twenties—eat the way some people with alcohol dependency drink—in spurts, sometimes influenced by friends who are bingeing. In a cycle of repeating episodes, overeating is followed by compensatory purging (through vomiting or laxative use) or fasting or excessive exercise. Preoccupied with food (craving sweet and high-fat foods), and fearful of becoming overweight, binge-purge eaters experience bouts of depression and anxiety, most severe during and following binges. Unlike anorexia, bulimia is marked by weight fluctuations within or above normal ranges, making the condition easy to hide.

• Those who do significant binge eating, followed by remorse—but do not purge, fast, or exercise excessively—are said to have binge-eating disorder.

How do anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and bingeeating disorder demonstrate the influence of psychological forces on physiologically motivated behaviors?

In these eating disorders, psychological factors may overwhelm the homeostatic drive to maintain a balanced internal state. People with anorexia nervosa (usually adolescent females) starve themselves but continue to diet because they view themselves as fat. Those with bulimia nervosa binge and purge in secret (primarily females in their teens and twenties). Those with binge-eating disorder, binge but do not purge. Cultural pressures, low self-esteem, and negative emotions interact with stressful life experiences to produce eating disorders. Twin research also indicates, however, that these disorders may have a genetic component.

Keys’ semistarved volunteers felt their hunger in response to a homeostatic system designed to maintain normal body weight and an adequate nutrient supply. But what precisely triggers hunger? Is it the pangs of an empty stomach? That is how it feels. And so it seemed after A. L. Washburn, working with Walter Cannon, intentionally swallowed a balloon. When inflated to fill his stomach, the balloon transmitted his stomach contractions to a recording device. While his stomach was being monitored, Washburn pressed a key each time he felt hungry. The discovery: Washburn was indeed having stomach contractions whenever he felt hungry.

Would hunger persist without stomach pangs? To answer that question, researchers removed some rats’ stomachs and attached their esophagi to their small intestines. Did the rats continue to eat? Indeed they did. Some hunger persists similarly in humans whose ulcerated or cancerous stomachs have been removed. If the pangs of an empty stomach are not the only source of hunger, what else matters?

Body Chemistry and the Brain

People and other animals automatically regulate their caloric intake to prevent energy deficits and maintain a stable body weight. This suggests that somehow, somewhere, the body is keeping tabs on its available resources. One such resource is the blood sugar glucose. Increases in the hormone insulin (secreted by the pancreas) diminish blood glucose, partly by converting it to stored fat. If your blood glucose level drops, you won’t consciously feel this change. But your brain, which is automatically monitoring your blood chemistry and your body’s internal state, will trigger hunger. Signals from your stomach, intestines, and liver (indicating whether glucose is being deposited or withdrawn) all signal your brain to motivate eating or not.

But how does the brain integrate and respond to these messages? More than a half-century ago, researchers began unraveling this puzzle when they located hunger controls within the hypothalamus, that small but complex neural traffic intersection deep in the brain.

Two distinct hypothalamic centers influence eating. Activity along the sides of the hypothalamus (the lateral hypothalamus) brings on hunger. If electrically stimulated there, well-fed animals begin to eat. (If the area is destroyed, even starving animals have no interest in food.) Recent research helps explain this behavior. When a rat is food-deprived, its blood sugar levels wane and the lateral hypothalamus churns out the hunger-triggering hormone  orexin. When given orexin, rats become ravenously hungry. Activity in the second centerthe lower mid-hypothalamus (the ventromedial hypothalamus)—depresses hunger. Stimulate this area and an animal will stop eating; destroy it and the animal’s stomach and intestines will process food more rapidly, causing it to become extremely fat. This discovery helped explain why some patients with tumors near the base of the brain (in what we now realize is the hypothalamus) eat excessively and become very overweight. Rats with mid-hypothalamus lesions eat more often, produce more fat, and use less fat for energy, rather like a miser who runs every bit of extra money to the bank and resists taking any out.

In addition to producing orexin, the hypothalamus monitors levels of the body’s other appetite hormones. One of these is ghrelin, a hunger-arousing hormone secreted by an empty stomach. When people with severe obesity undergo bypass surgery that seals off part of the stomach, the remaining stomach then produces much less ghrelin, and their appetite lessens. Obestatin, a sister hormone to ghrelin, is produced by the same gene, but obestatin sends out a fullness signal that suppresses hunger. Other appetite-suppressants include PYY, a hormone secreted by the digestive tract, and leptin, a protein that is secreted by fat cells and acts to diminish the rewarding pleasure of food.

Experimental manipulation of appetite hormones has raised hopes for an appetite reducing medication. Such a nose spray or skin patch might counteract the body’s hunger-producing chemicals, or mimic or increase the levels of hunger-dampening chemicals. The recent ups and downs of excitement over PYY illustrate the intense search for a substance that might someday be a treatment, if not a magic bullet, for obesity. The initial report that PYY suppresses appetite in mice was followed by a sceptical statement from 12 laboratories reporting a big fat disappointment: The PYY finding did not replicate. But a few months later, this was followed by newer studies using different methods that did find at least a temporary appetite-suppressing effect.

The complex interaction of appetite hormones and brain activity may help explain the body’s apparent predisposition to maintain itself at a particular weight level. When semistarved rats fall below their normal weight, this “weight thermostat” signals the body to restore the lost weight: Hunger increases and energy expenditure decreases. If body weight rises—as happens when rats are force-fed—hunger decreases and energy expenditure increases. This stable weight toward which semistarved and overstuffed rats return is their set point. In rats and humans, heredity influences body type and set point.

Our bodies regulate weight through the control of food intake, energy output, and basal metabolic rate—the rate of energy expenditure for maintaining basic body functions when the body is at rest. By the end of their 24 weeks of semistarvation, the men who participated in Keys’ experiment had stabilized at three-quarters of their normal weight, while taking in half of their previous calories. How did they manage this? By reducing their energy expenditure, partly through inactivity but partly because of a 29 percent drop in their basal metabolic rate.

Some researchers, however, doubt that our bodies have a preset tendency to maintain optimum weight. They point out that slow, sustained changes in body weight can alter one’s set point, and that psychological factors also sometimes drive our feelings of hunger. Given unlimited access to a wide variety of tasty foods, people and other animals tend to overeat and gain weight. For all these reasons, some researchers have abandoned the idea of a biologically fixed  set point. They prefer the term  settling point to indicate the level at which a person’s weight settles in response to caloric intake and expenditure (which are influenced by environment as well as biology).

 

Obesity and Weight Control.

The lack of exercise combined with the abundance of highcalorie food has led to increased rates of obesity, showing the influence of environment. Twin and adoption studies indicate that body weight is also genetically influenced (in the number of fat cells and basal metabolic rate). Thus, genes and environment interact to produce obesity. Those wishing to lose weight are advised to make a lifelong change in habits, minimize exposure to tempting food cues, boost energy expenditure through exercise, eat healthy foods, space meals throughout the day, beware of the binge, and forgive the occasional lapse.

 

 

Taste Preferences: Biology and Culture

Body chemistry and environmental factors together influence not only when we feel hungry, but also what we hunger for—our taste preferences. When feeling tense or depressed, do you crave starchy, carbohydrate-laden foods? Carbohydrates help boost levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which has calming effects. When stressed, even rats find it extra rewarding to scarf Oreos.

Our preferences for sweet and salty tastes are genetic and universal. Other taste preferences are conditioned, as when people given highly salted foods develop a liking for excess salt, or when people who have been sickened by a food develop an aversion to it. (The frequency of children’s illnesses provides many chances for them to learn food aversions.)

Culture affects taste, too. Bedouins enjoy eating the eye of a camel, which most North Americans would find repulsive. But then North Americans and Europeans shun horse, dog, and rat meat, all of which are prized elsewhere. Rats themselves tend to avoid unfamiliar foods. So do we, especially those that are animal-based. In experiments, people have tried novel fruit drinks or ethnic foods.

With repeated exposure, their appreciation for the new taste typically increases; moreover, exposure to one set of novel foods increases our willingness to try another. Neophobia (dislike of things unfamiliar) surely was adaptive for our ancestors, protecting them from potentially toxic substances.

Other taste preferences are also adaptive. For example, the spices most commonly used in hot-climate recipes—where food, especially meat, spoils more quickly—inhibit the growth of bacteria. Pregnancy-related nausea is another example of adaptive taste preferences. Its associated food aversions peak about the tenth week, when the developing embryo is most vulnerable to toxins.

 

The Psychology of Sex.

Masters and Johnson described four stages in the human sexual response cycle: excitement, plateau, orgasm (which seems to involve similar feelings and brain activity in males and females), and resolution. During the resolution phase, males experience a refractory period, during which renewed arousal and orgasm are impossible. Sexual disorders (problems that consistently impair sexual arousal or functioning) can be successfully treated, often by behaviorally oriented therapy or drug therapy.

Physiologically, the human sexual response cycle normally follows a pattern of excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution, followed in males by a refractory period, during which renewed arousal and orgasm are impossible. Sex hormones, in combination with the hypothalamus, help our bodies develop and function as either male or female. In nonhuman animals, hormones also help stimulate sexual activity. In humans, they influence sexual behavior more loosely, especially once sufficient hormone levels are present.

External stimuli can trigger sexual arousal in both men and women. Sexually explicit materials may also lead people to perceive their partners as comparatively less appealing and to devalue their relationships. In combination with the internal hormonal push and the external pull of sexual stimuli, fantasies (imagined stimuli) influence sexual arousal. Sexual disorders, such as premature ejaculation and female orgasmic disorder, are being successfully treated by new methods, which assume that people learn and can modify their sexual responses.

The female estrogen and male testosterone hormones influence human sexual behavior less directly than they influence nonhuman animals. Unlike other mammalian females, women’s sexuality is more responsive to testosterone level than to estrogen level. Short-term shifts in testosterone level are normal in men, partly in response to stimulation.

 

Sexual Orientation.

Adolescents’ physical maturation fosters a sexual dimension to their emerging identity. But culture is a big influence, too, as is apparent from varying rates of teen intercourse and pregnancy. A near-epidemic of sexually transmitted infections has triggered new research and educational programs pertinent to adolescent sexuality.

Rates of teen intercourse vary from culture to culture and era to era. Factors contributing to teen pregnancy include ignorance;  minimal communication about contraception with parents, partners, and peers; guilt related to sexual activity; alcohol use; and mass media norms of unprotected and impulsive sexuality. STIs—sexually transmitted infections—have spread rapidly. Attempts to protect teens through comprehensive sex-education programs include contraceptive and abstinence education. High intelligence, religiosity, father presence, and participation in service learning programs are predictors of teen sexual restraint.

Surveys can tell us how many people (about 3 percent) are attracted to their own sex, but statistics cannot decide issues of human rights. There is no evidence that environmental influences determine sexual orientation. Biological influences may include the presence of same-sex behaviors in many animal species, straight-gay differences in body and brain characteristics, higher rates in certain families and in identical twins, and exposure to certain hormones during critical periods of prenatal development.

One’s heterosexual or homosexual orientation seems neither willfully chosen nor willfully changed. Preliminary new evidence links sexual orientation with genetic influences, prenatal hormones, and certain brain structures. The increasing public perception that sexual orientation is biologically influenced is associated with increasing acceptance of gays and lesbians and their relationships.

 

Sex and Human Values.

Scientific research on sexual motivation does not attempt to define the personal meaning of sex in our lives, but sex research and education are not value-free. Sex research and education are not value-free. Some say that sex-related values should therefore be openly acknowledged, recognizing the emotional significance of sexual expression. Human sexuality at its life-uniting and love-renewing best affirms our deep need to belong.

 

The Need to Belong.

Our need to affiliate or belong—to feel connected and identified with others—had survival value for our ancestors’ chances, which may explain why humans in every society live in groups. Societies everywhere control behavior with the threat of ostracism—excluding or shunning others. When socially excluded, people may engage in self-defeating behaviors (performing below their ability) or in antisocial behaviors. No one is an island; we are all, as John Donne noted in 1624, part of the human continent. Our need to affiliate—to feel connected and identified with others—boosted our ancestors’ chances for survival and is therefore part of our human nature. We experience our need to belong when suffering the breaking of social bonds, when feeling the gloom of loneliness or the joy of love, and when seeking social acceptance. For people experiencing ostracism, stress and depression can result. On the other hand, people who feel a sense of belongingness are happier and healthier. 

 

Motivation at Work.

Personnel psychologists work with organizations to devise selection methods for new employees, recruit and evaluate applicants, design and evaluate training programs, identify people’s strengths, analyze job content, and appraise individual and organizational performance. Subjective interviews foster the interviewer illusion; structured interviews pinpoint job-relevant strengths and are better predictors of performance. Checklists, graphic rating scales, and behavior rating scales are useful performance appraisal methods.

Organizational psychologists examine influences on worker satisfaction and productivity and facilitate organizational change. Employee engagement tends to correlate with organizational success. Leadership style may be goal-oriented (task leadership), or group-oriented (social leadership), or some combination of the two.

For most people, work is a huge part of life. At its best, when work puts us in "flow," work can be satisfying and enriching. What, then, enables worker motivation, productivity, and satisfaction? I/O psychology studies behavior in the workplace through its primary subfields: personnel psychology, organizational psychology, and human factors psychology.

 

Personnel Psychology/Harnessing Strengths

Personnel psychologists aim to identify people’s strengths and to match them with organizational tasks. Subjective interviews lead to quickly formed impressions, but they also frequently foster an illusory overconfidence in one’s ability to predict employee success. Structured interviews, pinpointing job-relevant strengths, enhance interview reliability and validity. Personnel psychologists also assist organizations in appraisal that boosts organizations, motivates individuals, and is welcomed as fair.

 

Organizational Psychology: Motivating Achievement

People who excel are often self-disciplined individuals with strong achievement motivation. To motivate employees to achieve, smart managers aim to create an engaged, committed, satisfied workforce. Effective leaders build on people’s strengths, work with them to set specific and challenging goals, and adapt their leadership style to their situation.