Being tested for intelligence is a pretty nerve-wracking experience. Somebody’s about to put a number on how smart you are, which can be very intimidating. In a piece in the New York Times, Annie Murphy Paul argues that the level of stress we feel significantly impacts performance, and that it’s a function of social cues, pressure, and stereotypes.
“We’ve all been there,” she writes, “you feel especially smart and funny when talking to a particular person, only to feel hopelessly unintelligent and inarticulate in the presence of another.”
That’s not just your imagination.
Annie Murphy Paul writes in the New York Times:
“It’s just one example of the powerful influence that social factors can have on intelligence. As parents, teachers and students settle into the school year, this work should prompt us to think about intelligence not as a ‘lump of something that’s in our heads,’ as the psychologist Joshua Aronson puts it, but as ‘a transaction among people.'”
Social factors have a real impact on performance. When reminded of gender, women perform worse on tests in maths and science.
In teaching and management, there’s clearly room not only to test people in a better way, but think about what situations can suppress intelligence and performance.
Read the full piece here
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