How do we know someone is intelligent? Is it their ability to ace tests or crunch numbers? Psychologist Dr. Robert J. Sternberg sees intelligence not as a narrow, monolithic quality that makes you good at chess or getting top grades, but as an interplay between the analytical, practical and creative aspects of your mind. He called this “the Triarchic theory of intelligence.”
Analytical intelligence is what you probably imagine it is – the pure brain power with which you process information. It is invoked when you need to analyze something or solve problems. This is the type of braininess measured by IQ tests, which in Sternberg’s view are woefully inadequate in determining someone’s overall intelligence as they focus only on the analytical side.
Creative intelligence comes into play when people need to think creatively and adjust effectively to new situations. This kind of intelligence is also responsible for synthesizing information and gaining insights. Another way to think about this is having the ability to use the knowledge and skills you already have to manage novel or unusual situations.
Practical intelligence involves the ability to deal with daily tasks in the real world. You can call it “street smarts” that show how well a person relates to the external environment. It is also directed towards goals which seek to adapt to or transform the world around you. “Intelligent behavior involves adapting to your environment, changing your environment, or selecting a better environment,” wrote Sternberg.
When you measure this type of intelligence, you are looking not just for mental prowess, but factors such as emotion and attitude that also influence how well the person makes decisions. A leader, who has a strong ability to understand and motivate people as well…
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