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Culture and Intelligence


This paper is aimed to highlight the essence of relationships between culture and intelligence, and how these relations may vary, depending on the cultural impact on personal development.  The “official version” of the history of cognitive science is proposed by Howard Gardner and covers the period up to about 1975. Gardner begins his narrative with a series of scientific and technological advances that have been committed during the 1940-1960-ies that became the basis of a new discipline.

Howard Gardner is an American psychologist, specialist in clinical psychology and neuropsychology. In 1961, he joined the Harvard planning to study history, but under the influence of a charismatic psychoanalyst and recognized specialist in the psychology of Erik Erikson became interested in psychology. After graduating, Harvard worked in Jerome Bruner, engaged in cognitive psychology. Gardner participated in the discussion on the project:  What makes a human being human? How a man became the way it is? How to make people more humane? The researcher was about to give response to these questions by the theory of multiple intelligence proposed by him.

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Background to the Theory

During the work on the project Brunner and Harnder acquainted with the works of Jean Piaget (1982) and came to be substantially interested in the problems of art and knowledge in the art. In 1967, Gardner joined the research team of Harvard Project Zero, which aimed to study the problems of pedagogy in Arts. In the early 1980s, he took part in another project – Research Project on Human Potential. From that time until now, the industry is central to the research activities of Gardner. The first result of this project and work was Gardner’s book: Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983).

The works by Shannon and Weaver’s (1963) and Miller (1968) on the development and application of information theory in the ideas for the study of human memory in terms of information processing were essential in relevance to the theory of Howard Gardner. They were about to highlight the problem of formalization of the use of grammar, growing the confidence in the fact that variants of behaviorism, based on the scheme “stimulus-response” has not lived up to their expectations, paving the way for the so-called cognitive revolution in psychology.

The range of disciplines is united around this common goal that is called the “cognitive hexagon”: this term is proposed to identify links between its constituent disciplines: philosophy, linguistics, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, psychology and anthropology.

Gardner outlined two trends in this area, linking them with achievements and ideas of the early precursors of cognitive science in the 1930-1940-ies. The first is a powerful trend towards reunification of cognitive psychology and neuroscience that meant that the human mind and the human brain are interrelated. The second is the – trend to connect modeling, highlighting the parallel processes and reducing the relative centrality to the representation of the internal state. Gardner noted that the mixed system comprising a combination of serial and parallel structures is the most promising in terms of development of the entire region.

Interestingly, in his retrospective review Gardner (1987) has not commented on another change – namely, the growing influence of the ideas of culture and cognitive oriented ethnographic research as significant and promising sectors within the community of cognitive sciences. It seems to be the odd omission because of the statements in an earlier edition of his book, there is information that the opinion of Gardner came in range of anthropology cognitive sciences through the works of many researches that used different approaches.

Gardner observed the changes to be hardly noticeable to the individual researcher, but it allowed seeing a retrospective view that is the implementation of a number of interrelated changes, which together led to the emergence of important new technologies in the field of cognitive science trends.

The researcher was aware that the first serious challenge to the powerful representation is dedicated to systems of a parallel distributed processing of the information. However, he paid no attention to avalanche growth number of developments on the basis of the ideas that emerged during the last decade. Similarly, he did not pay attention to the growing interest of modern anthropologists, psychologists and other researchers in the study of knowledge as rooted in the action of environment, unfolding in a certain context, or, in other words, “knowing in the flesh”.

In 1980, Don Norman (1980) published the article Twelve Issues for Cognitive Research that became the official publication of the new approach to the cognitive psychology. Don Norman suggested 12 objects listing them and describing about how there are interfered and interrelated with the culture. This research, on the contrary, does not invade his thoughts about the research field, which is pictured in his imagination. By the way, this article was devoted to the study of human intelligence and understating the wide range of topics to be focused on in the future research perspectives. This theoretical approach was relevant to the theory of Gardner in the context of human intelligence theories, namely the theory of multiple intelligence by Howard Gardner. Particularly, this was a good contribution on development the theory of seven types of intelligence.

Seven Types of Intelligence by Gardner

Gardner (1983) proposed to describe the relations between culture and intelligence in the following way of formulating seven different types of intelgence:

Verbal-linguistic intelligence – the ability to use words effectively orally (presenter, speaker, politician, storyteller) or in writing (journalist, playwright, poet, editor).

Musical intelligence – intelligence that contributes to the sense of sound and emotional ability to respond to it. As the students develop their knowledge of music, they develop the basics of intelligence. Its further development occurs when students create more complex and accurate variation of music samples, develop skills playing musical instruments and progressing to more complex compositions. This type is represented by the ability to perceive (like fans) recognize (like music critic), transform (like a composer) and express (similar to an artist) songs.

Logical-mathematical intelligence – the ability to use inductive and deductive reasoning to solve abstract problems and logic puzzles to understand the complex relationships of interrelated concepts, ideas and things, ask questions, experiment, counting and more. This intelligence also includes the skills of classification, forecasting, allocation of paramount importance, the formulation of scientific hypotheses and understanding the cause-effect relationships.

Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence – the whole body consciousness makes it possible to monitor and interpret movement, dance, run, jump, touch, gesture, manage physical things, establish the harmony of body and mind. This intelligence includes such qualities as physical coordination, balance, agility, strength, flexibility and tactile skills. It is inherent not only in athletes, as includes the skills needed, such as in the work of surgeons during complex surgery.

Spatial intelligence – intelligence involved to understand pictures and images; provides the ability to accurately represent the visual world and play your own visual impression. This intelligence developed by sharpening of sensor and motor perceptions. Painters, sculptors, architects, gardeners, cartographers, engineers and artist-designers – all of them carry on their mental images created them and changing things. Visual perception combined with prior knowledge, experiences, emotions and images that allow you to create a new vision for others. People with advanced spatial intelligence are able to perceive subtle colors, lines, state, shape, space and the relationship that exists between these elements.

Interpersonal intelligence – the ability to quickly identify and assess moods, intentions, motivations and feelings of others. Interpersonal intelligence involves verbal and nonverbal communication skills work together, the ability to solve conflicts, ability to trust, respect, manage and motivate others to achieve mutually beneficial goals. For example, at the elementary level this type of intelligence is seen in children who notice and react to the mood surrounding adults.

Intrapersonal intelligence – the ability to clearly perceive themselves (see their strengths and weaknesses), deliberately ignore the inner mood, intentions, motivations, temperament and desire; the ability of self-discipline, self-understanding and self-esteem. A person who has this type of intelligence, feels better if has the opportunity to think about actions and deeds and to do self-esteem. The need for introspection makes this type of intelligence the most personal. According to Gardner, “intrapersonal intelligence is the ability to distinguish the satisfaction of feeling pain and, based on this difference, or get involved on the situation or leave it.”.

Naturalistic Intelligence – provides the ability to learn with the help of nature. These students receive pleasure from activities associated with nature, such as bird watching, collecting butterflies and insects, trees or research animal care. They also like to go to the mountains, hiking. They like to study ecology, nature, plants and animals. For them, it is important that training took place in open space.

Existential intelligence – the ability to philosophize, meditate, study the history, culture and religion, to discuss “life issues”.

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The theory of cultural intelligence does not entitle to make judgments, Gardner agrees that this is not an exhaustive list of intellectual abilities; he is ready to expand the borders between classification and intelligence. Yet, if you make the assumption that people differ in their intellectual profiles, it is reasonable to be taken into account these differences such as the preparation of training programs in schools.

According to the theory of multiple intelligence, fundamentally mistake would be to think of a single reason or intellect, or a common approach to solving problems. Although this approach to understanding intelligence as a fixed value that can be measured in the “ruler” or tests in the “pencil sheet” style prevails in most Western cultures, and in many countries of the world. This idea is the basis of education systems around the world, as well as ideas on the basis of academic ability and is the justification hierarchy of items in the education system. For example, based on the method of measuring intelligence quotient (IQ), math and dance lessons are different, for they involve different types of intelligence to them

However, there is a doubt that such simplification is the clear understanding of intelligence, but there is hope that in the future the equal attention to all kinds of intelligence under the theory of Howard Gardner will be provided to allow all people updating their skills.

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