Intelligent Person

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An Intelligent Person is a person who is an intelligent human (with a high intelligence level).



  • (Sternberg, 1984) ⇒ Robert J. Sternberg. (1984). “3. What Cognitive Psychology Can (and Can Not) Do for Test Development.” In: BS Plake (Ed.), "Social and Technical Issues in Testing."
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Indeed, in a recent study of people's conceptions of intelligence, when we asked people to list behav iors characteri stic of intelligent persons, behaviors such as " learns rapidly," "acts quickly," " talks quickly," and " makes judgments quic kly" were commonly listed (Sternberg, Conway , Ketron, & Bernstein , 198 1). It is not only the man in the street who believes that speed is assoc iated with intellect: Several prominent contemporary theori sts of intelligence base their theories in large part upon individual diffe rences in the speed with which people process information (Hunt , 1978; Jensen, 1979).

The assumption that more intelligent people are rapid in formation processors also underlies the overwhelming majority of tests, including creativity as well as intelligence tests. It is rare to find a test that is not timed or a timed test that virtuall y all examinees are able to finish by working at a comfortable rate of problem solving. I would argue th at this assumption is a gross overgeneralization: It is true for some people and for some mental operations but not for all people or all mental operations. Blind , across-the-board acceptance of the assumption is not only unjustifi ed- it is wrong.

Almost everyone knows peopl e who, although often slow in performing tasks, perform the tasks at a superior level of accompli shment. Moreover, we all know th at snap judgments are often poor ones . Indeed, in our study of people's conceptions of intelligence, " does not make snap judgments" was listed as an important attribute of intelligent performance. Evidence for the dubiousness of the " smart is fast" assumption extends, however, beyond intuition and everyday observation. A number of findings from carefully conducted psychological research undermine the validity of assumption. I will cite four such findings, which are only examples from a wider literature on the subject.

First, it is well known that, in general, a reflective rather than an impulsive style in problem solving tends to be associated with more intelligent problemsolving performance (see Baron , 198 1, 1982, for reviews of this literature).

Jumping into problems without adequate reflection is likely to lead to fa lse starts and erroneous conclusions. Yet, timed tests often fo rce the examinee to solve problems impulsively . It is often claimed that the strict timing of such tests merely mirro rs the requirements of our highly pressured and productive society. But ask yourself how many signi ficant problems you encounter in your work or personal li fe that allow no more than the 15 to 60 seconds allowed for a typical test problem on a standardi zed test; you will probably be hard pressed to think of any such problems.