Intelligence, effort, and success

A couple of articles I came across today may be of interest to fellow students. The first, from New York Magazine, discusses possible perverse effects upon learning that arise due to how people understand intelligence. Specifically, people who believe themselves to be intelligent are more likely to choose easy tasks and less likely to apply themselves. Another article, on the website of the Association for Psychological Science, discusses ‘The Myth of Prodigy.’ It is about Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point.

While I cannot really comment on the validity of the experimental results posited, the general idea does have the ring of truth to it. Intelligence, I think, is generally more likely to be a source of insecurity than confidence. It can always be proven hollow, or outdone by someone else. What that seems to happen, the trend is likely to sustain itself. This I have seen in both friends and myself. It may have a lot to do with why I never learned to drive or dance, and am rather hesitant to display my ineptitude at either.

PS. As with so many other items of interest, I first found this on Metafilter. On one hand, I feel bad for just grabbing their content. On the other, I recognize that it is a very efficient way of finding interesting material. Furthermore, I am driving traffic in their direction.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

9 thoughts on “Intelligence, effort, and success”

  1. The cycle does have that effect sometimes, though it was certainly not designed to do so.

    A good (though somewhat expensive) counter is my perpetual coffeeshop moving cycle, where I read a chapter or two in each, then move on. Mixing a few libraries in (Codrington, Wadham, Upper Camera) keeps the price lower, and increases the variety.

  2. I am smart, the kids’ reasoning goes; I don’t need to put out effort. Expending effort becomes stigmatized—it’s public proof that you can’t cut it on your natural gifts.

    Thankfully, a few Oxford tutorials should pretty quickly prove that you are not as inherently intelligent or capable as you thought. A virtue of the system.

  3. That infidelity site is obviously a joke. I cannot decide if it is clever or not.

  4. It is quite logical. The more intelligence you have the more likely you are to spend hours contemplating about how to complete a task at hand before embarking, if ever, on the quest of making it happen itself. Someone with less of it will simply start chucking away and either get stuck or learn along the way. But as the saying goes “Hrdinu jsou plny hrbitovy [The mortuaries are full of heroes]” one can conclude, the chances are that less intelligent people will fail at their tasks more likely than intelligent ones, presumably by ending up in a grave.

    I do not know about you but I would rather skip a class than end up with a pen jammed in my eyeball ’cause I cannot handle it properly.. Offsets rule.

  5. Having worked with and observed the academic journeys of the so called “gifted” students in Vancouver, I can agree that that they are frequently unmotivated, self-centered and generally not liked by their teachers. In an academic environment where cooperative work and group interaction are valued, these students do not stand out at all. Some of the musically gifted students or scientifically oriented ones, can achieve interesting and admirable results, but it is not the norm. In fact, the top graduating students are very rarely from the gifted group. Hard work and determination and especially strong people skills will help to succeed in school. In post secondary education, the situation can be different, but motivation and going along with the system is still essential. It is unfortunate that we lose so many of the bright minds, but neither the system nor the individuals with extreme intelligence have enough interest in making it a win-win situation for both sides.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *