Meaning, Defintions and Nature of Social Intelligence in Psychology

Meaning of Intelligence

Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge. Intelligence is defined as mental capability that involves the ability to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend complex ideas, to learn quickly and to learn from experience. It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smartness.

Social Intelligence in Psychology

Social Intelligence

Social intelligence is the capacity to know oneself and to know others. Social Intelligence develops from experience with people and learning from success and failures in social settings. It is more commonly referred to as "tact", "common sense", or "street smarts".

An individual's potential in life can be measured and predicated by a single number- his or a her 'IQ' Score- has lost a great deal of credibility now a days. To day it is almost believed and accepted that one's intelligence is multidimensional and there lies certainly key role for the intelligence like emotional intelligence and social intelligence in life.

Definitions of Social Intelligence

1. According to Ross Honeywill, "Social intelligence is an aggregated measure of self- and social-awareness, evolved social beliefs and attitudes, and a capacity and appetite to manage complex social change.

2. According to Edward Thorndike, "the ability to understand and manage men and women and boys and girls, to act wisely in human relations".

Elements of Social Intelligence

1. Verbal Fluency and Conversational Skills:- You can easily spot someone with lots of SI at a party or social gathering because he or she knows how to “work the room.” The highly socially intelligent person can carry on conversations with a wide variety of people, and is tactful and appropriate in what is said. Combined, these represent what are called “social expressiveness skills.”

2. Knowledge of Social Roles, Rules, and Scripts:- Socially intelligent individuals learn how to play various social roles. They are also well versed in the informal rules, or “norms,” that govern social interaction. In other words, they “know how to play the game” of social interaction. As a result, they come off as socially sophisticated and wise.

3. Effective Listening Skills:- Socially intelligent persons are great listeners. As a result, others come away from an interaction with an SI person feeling as if they had a good “connection” with him or her.

4. Understanding What Makes Other People Tick:- Great people watchers, individuals high in social intelligence attune themselves to what others are saying, and how they are behaving, in order to try to “read” what the other person is thinking or feeling. Understanding emotions is part of Emotional Intelligence, and Social Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence are correlated- people who are especially skilled are high on both.

5. Role Playing and Social Self-Efficacy:- The socially intelligent person knows how to play different social roles- allowing him or her to feel comfortable with all types of people. As a result, the SI individual feels socially self-confident and effective- what psychologists call “social self-efficacy.”

6. Impression Management Skills:- Persons with SI are concerned with the impression they are making on others. They engage in what I call the “Dangerous Art of Impression Management,” which is a delicate balance between managing and controlling the image you portray to others and being reasonably “authentic” and letting others see the true self. This is perhaps the most complex element of social intelligence.

Historical Evolution

Historically the upsurge of the idea and concept of social intelligence owes its origin to the view point expressed by Edward Thorndike in 1920 in his definition worded below:

Intelligence may be defined as the ability to understand and manage men and women, boys and girls to act wisely in human relations.

Later on Thorndike's viewpoint was affirmed by the scholars Moss and Hunt in 1927 in their defining social intelligence as the ability to get along with others.

However it was Vernon who might be credited to provide the most wide ranging definition? Of the term social intelligence by terming it as the person's "ability to get along with people in general, social technique or ease in society, knowledge of social matters, susceptibility to stimuli from other members of group as well as insight in to the temporary moods or underlying personality traits of strangers." Later on a major push and support for the up bringing of the concept of social intelligence has been received by the concept and theory of multiple intelligence put forward by the famous psychologist Howard Gardner. In his theory he has pointed out social intelligence as one of the eight intelligences of human being in the name of interpersonal intelligence.

Gardner as we have seen has proposed that intelligence is not a unitary cognitive ability but there are eight quite different types of intelligence each hypothetically dissociable from the others and end hypothetically associated with a different brain system. While most of these proposed intelligence (linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily kinesthetic etc.) are cognitive abilities much like the Thurstone's primary mental abilities, two are explicitly personal and social in nature. Gardner defines intrapersonal intelligences as the person's ability to gain access to his or her own internal emotional life and inter personal intelligence the individual's ability to notice and make distinction among other individuals.

More recently, Daniel Goleman (2006), the famous authority for emotional intelligence has highlighted the concept of social intelligence by concluding on the social neuroscience researches that social intelligence is made up of social awareness (including empathy attainment emphatic accuracy and social cognition) and social facility.

Nature of Social Intelligence

Based upon the historical evolution and understanding of the concept social intelligence and its contemporary practical implications we can understand social intelligence as the intelligence needed for the success achieved by an individual in leading social life and having inter persona relationships in a proper way. The things like below may be said as r characteristics features of one's social intelligence.

  1. Social intelligence is the ability to get along with other people an seek their cooperation.
  2. It includes an awareness of situations and the social dynamics th govern them and a knowledge of interaction styles and strategies that ca help a person achieve his objectives in dealing with others.
  3. Social intelligence is specifically useful in solving the problems of social life and in particular managing the life tasks. It is why it is regarded as one of the important life skill.
  4. It is the capacity to effectively negotiate complex social relationships and environments.
  5. It is clearly related to cognition and emotional intelligence but works on a separate framework making it quite distinguishable from the concept of cognition based general intelligence and emotional intelligence.

Social Intelligence is different from General Intelligence

General intelligence measured through traditional I.Q. tests does not help much the individuals in getting in life. In life we need most the type of intelligence reflected and managed through one's intra personal and interpersonal intelligence (i.e., emotional and social intelligence.) General intelligence may help a students in getting success in academic pursuits, achieving, high percentages and merit position, but it does not guarantee for his success in making social relationships, winning friends and seeking people's cooperation for achieving his demands-the fields and areas covered through one's social intelligence. similarly general intelligence can't guarantee knowing and managing emotions of the self and others-the field covered through one's emotional intelligence.

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