How do you know whether a person is intelligent How do you know whether a person is intelligent and what criteria is used to determine intelligence?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
In reply to #9: Hello. There is something provoking about this question, as if we are giving automatic value to intelligence; how about a discussion about where we are going as a species? Affectionately, wordprof
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
First ask yourself why you want to know, why you want to quantify it. The question deserves more thought, and a more comprehensive expression. Whenever we start to quantify human traits, we dehumanize them, turn them into scientific objects and that tendency cuts away at our distinct-ness. We are the immeasurable, the possibilities.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

First of all, I believe that the vast majority of people one meets are normally intelligent.  It is only the rare person who stands out as being not so smart or intelligent.  Some of these are mentally retarded.  But a few are simply not so intelligent as the vast majority of us.  IQ testing aside, here is how I would describe the rare person who is not mentally retarded, but lacks what most would consider normal intelligence.

The person exhibits little curiosity.  She makes the same mistakes over and over.  She has little or no insight...never realizing the causes and effects in life.  She wonders what happened when things go wrong, when it is obvious to her friends that she caused the problem herself.  She has a poorly developed sense of humor.  She never seems to get jokes...especially ones that require an awareness of double meanings, and language or slang nuances.  She is unaware of current events.  She often seems unaware of the significance of events around her, and may act inappropriately happy or sad.  She does not pick up on subtle clues such as sarchastic responses, tone of voice or body language.

In short, the subintelligent person is incapable of normal and usual responses to conversational and social interaction.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I've had thousands of students and met who knows how many more, and one of the better barometers, to me, has been the caliber of the questions people ask.  The fact they ask questions period shows an intellectual curiosity that seems to closely accompany intellect in general, but those who are both curious, willing to listen and learn, and can articulate and engage in high level questioning and debate is, in my opinion, one of the more obvious indicators of intelligence.  That being said, I do believe there are MANY forms of intelligence, including those humans in general neither recognize nor value.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Intelligence is a knotty field these days. Certainly memory is a part of intelligence. Comprehension of higher order sentences is a part of intelligence. Analytical reasoning is a part of intelligence. There are different kinds of intelligence covering different fields and aspects of thought. For instance, Sir Walter Scott once said of Jane Austen that while she did not have the highest kind of intelligence, she certainly had the rarest. Education and intelligence are not synonymous. Creativity and intelligence are not synonymous. Intelligence seems to be an innate quality that develops differently in different people over different lengths of time. The ability to understand, read, and produce multi-concept sentences seems to be a key indicator of intelligence, as is the ability to find initial and underlying causes and to recognize logical fallacies and inconsistencies.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

All of the above posts are contributing to supporting the conclusion that there is no one definition because there is more than one form of intelligence and there are a multitude of means of evaluating different aspects of thought and behavior that might be considered as being a part of intelligence! (Yes, that run-on sentence is complicated - being able to interpret it may be an indicator...!)

Seriously, there is no one simple means of evaluating an individual's intelligence. You can measure how good a person is at taking tests, you can analyze conversation and thought patterns and decision-making processes and all the rest, but intelligence is not a tangible item that can be defined and determined based on one straight-forward measurement.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This is a hard question and I suspect that not one test or measure will be enough to determine a person's intelligence. What we would need to do to have a good shot at measuring intelligence is to take many different types of tests and spend time with a person and observe how they work through various problems. There is simply no easy way. Also we need to keep in mind that at times people are late bloomers. This means that a person's intelligence can jump at one point in life.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I think that a definitive definition of intelligent would be needed. Many times, intelligence is defined in two different ways: book smart and street smart. While generalized testing may provide a good baseline, these types of tests are not always error-proof.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I prefer to actually talk with people. A good conversation that may cover a few varying topics will tell more about a person than many standardized tests. Of course, there is a great difference between intelligence and knowledge, and if you are searching for a person's IQ, you might need more than clever conversation. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One standard measure of intelligence is a standardized and normed Intelligence Quotient test. While it is only one measure, it has stood the test of time as a reliable measure of a person's intellectual strengths and weaknesses. Tests such as the ACT or the SAT don't have the same objective and would not be as reliable in terms of their indication of smarts -- just potential for success in higher education.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I would argue that it is simply impossible to objectively tell if a person is intelligent.  The reason for this is that, like Howard Gardner, I believe that there are many different ways in which to be intelligent.  Just to take one example, how do we define who is more intelligent a person who is amazingly gifted with language, or one who is amazingly gifted mathematically?  There is no way to objectively state that one or the other of these people is more intelligent than the other.  I think, then, that we cannot know with any scientific certainty who is and is not intelligent because we have no solid criteria on which to judge the issue.  As the link below says, "nobody has adequately defined what intelligence really means."

 

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial