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  1. #1

    Default Mindset, Intelligence, and IQ

    This article hits at the core of why I don't like IQ as a concept. If it were widely acknowledged that Intelligence is a "skill set" (like basketball ability) and not something innate and fixed (like height, as an adult). I would have far less of an issue with it.

    Fixed versus growth intelligence mindsets: It's all in your head, Dweck says

    Fixed versus growth intelligence mindsets: It's all in your head, Dweck says

    When psychology Professor Carol Dweck was a sixth-grader at P.S. 153 in Brooklyn, N.Y., she experienced something that made her want to understand why some people view intelligence as a fixed trait while others embrace it as a quality that can be developed and expanded.

    Dweck's teacher that year, Mrs. Wilson, seated her students around the room according to their IQ. The girls and boys who didn't have the highest IQ in the class were not allowed to carry the flag during assembly or even wash the blackboard, Dweck said. "She let it be known that IQ for her was the ultimate measure of your intelligence and your character," she said. "So the students who had the best seats were always scared of taking another test and not being at the top anymore."

    Asked what seat number Dweck occupied during that memorable year, the professor paused, and silently raised her right index finger. "But it was an uncomfortable thing because you were only as good as your last test score," she said. "I think it had just as negative an effect on the kids at the top [as those at the bottom] who were defining themselves in those terms."

    From that experience, Dweck became fascinated with intelligence, convinced that IQ tests are not the only way to measure it. "I also became very interested in coping with setbacks, probably because being in that classroom made me so concerned about not slipping, not failing," she said.

    Dweck, a soft-spoken, elegantly attired woman, joined Stanford's faculty in 2004 as the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor. Before that, she taught at Columbia for 15 years, as well as at Harvard and the University of Illinois. A native New Yorker, Dweck earned a bachelor's degree from Columbia and a doctorate in psychology from Yale.

    According to Dweck, people's self-theories about intelligence have a profound influence on their motivation to learn. Students who hold a "fixed" theory are mainly concerned with how smart they are—they prefer tasks they can already do well and avoid ones on which they may make mistakes and not look smart. In contrast, she said, people who believe in an "expandable" or "growth" theory of intelligence want to challenge themselves to increase their abilities, even if they fail at first.

    Dweck's research about intelligence and motivation, and how they are variously influenced by fixed and growth mindsets, has attracted attention from teachers trying to help underperforming students, parents concerned with why their daughters get turned off math and science, and even sports coaches and human-resources managers intent on helping clients reach higher levels of achievement.

    The journal Child Development is releasing a paper Wednesday, Feb. 7, co-authored by Dweck titled "Implicit Theories of Intelligence Predict Achievement Across Adolescent Transition: A Longitudinal Study and an Intervention." The research shows how at one New York City junior high school students' fixed and growth theories about intelligence affected their math grades. Over two years, she said, students with a fixed mindset experienced a downward academic trend while the others moved ahead.

    The psychologists then designed an eight-week intervention program that taught some students study skills and how they could learn to be smart—describing the brain as a muscle that became stronger the more it was used. A control group also learned study skills but were not taught Dweck's expandable theory of intelligence. In just two months, she said, the students from the first group, compared to the control group, showed marked improvement in grades and study habits.

    "What was important was the motivation," Dweck said. "The students were energized by the idea that they could have an impact on their mind." Dweck recalled a young boy who was a ringleader of the troublemakers. "When we started teaching this idea about the mind being malleable, he looked up with tears in his eyes, and he said, 'You mean, I don't have to be dumb?'" she said. "A fire was lit under him."

    Later on, the researchers asked the teachers to single out students who had shown positive changes. They picked students who were in the growth mindset group, even though they didn't know two groups existed. Among them was the former troublemaker, who "was now handing in his work early so he could get feedback and revise, plus study for tests, and had good grades," Dweck said. The research showed how changing a key belief—a student's self-theory about intelligence and motivation—with a relatively simple intervention can make a big difference. Since then, Dweck and her colleagues at Columbia have developed a computer-based version of the intervention, dubbed "Brainology," that has been tested in 20 New York City schools.

    Although "Brainology" is not yet commercially available, Dweck has brought her work to public attention with her latest book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. The author of many academic books and articles, Dweck noted Mindset was her first foray into mainstream publishing. "My students [at Columbia] kept saying to me, 'You write for these professional journals and that's important, but what about people in the world?' We are in a profession that talks to each other and writes for each other. That's what we're rewarded for. But my students kept saying, 'Everybody should know this.'"

    Mindset certainly resonated with Ross Bentley, a world-renowned car racing coach based in Seattle. Unlike coaches who stress technical skills, Bentley focuses on teaching mental competitiveness. He said great drivers strive to attain "a state of flow—a moment when you lose yourself in the act of driving, when it becomes effortless and time slows down. When you get into the flow, or the zone, you're at your peak."

    Bentley was thrilled to learn that Dweck's research confirmed his personal approach to coaching. "One of the things that's fascinating for me is that someone with her knowledge has verified things I've known," he said. "She brings a scientific approach and we're able to give her real-world experience. The majority of champion racing drivers have a growth mindset."

    This month, Dweck and Bentley are launching a study of about 40 racing-car drivers to learn how applying a growth mindset approach improves their speed times during the 2007 racing season. Bentley explained that car races can last hours and drivers may lose their concentration at pivotal points, making it possible to lose a race by only a few seconds. The objective of coaching is to help drivers recover quickly and maintain an optimal state of flow, he said. The research, carried out by psychology graduate student Fred Leach, will use surveys to gauge the mindset of drivers before, during and after races to see if there is a correlation with their race results, Bentley said. "The goal is to build a growth mindset," he said.

    In addition to sports coaches, parents and teachers have written to Dweck to say that Mindset has given them new insight into their children and students. "One very common thing is that often very brilliant children stop working because they're praised so often that it's what they want to live as—brilliant—not as someone who ever makes mistakes," she said. "It really stunts their motivation. Parents and teachers say they now understand how to prevent that—how to work with low-achieving students to motivate them and high-achieving students to maximize their efforts." The point is to praise children's efforts, not their intelligence, she said.

    Last year, Dweck taught a freshman seminar based on Mindset. She chose 16 students from more than 100 who applied, selecting those who expressed personal motivation rather than intelligence. "You can impress someone with how smart you are or how motivated you are, and I picked students who expressed their motivation," she said.

    It turned out that embracing a growth mindset was critical to the students' transition to Stanford. The freshmen loved being on campus and quickly became involved in activities, Dweck said, but failed to anticipate the approach of midterm exams. "They were just really overwhelmed," she said. "How did they deal with it? They told me they would have dealt with it poorly, thinking they weren't smart or were not meant to be at Stanford. But knowing about the growth mindset allowed them to realize that they hadn't learned how to be a college student yet. They were still learning how to be successful as a Stanford student." Dweck described the seminar as a "peak experience" in her long teaching career. "The students were fantastic," she said.

    Dweck continues to conduct research into what motivates people and what holds them back. Based on the success of Mindset, which is being published in nine countries, Dweck has been asked to collaborate on other non-academic projects involving business and sports. "I'm such an egghead," she said with a smile. "My book was my first foray into the real world. Articles go out into the [academic] field and it's very gratifying, but a book goes to all corners of the earth. People take a lot from it, and they introduce themselves into your life."

    Dweck's work is to be featured on National Public Radio and in New York magazine. She also will present her research at the upcoming annual meeting in San Francisco of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
    I can identify Dweck's experience as a kid. Besides the pressure to keep up from adults, you are also branded as some sort of freak by the kids.

    I tried convincing kids that they could do better with some practice, but all I'd get is some version of "That's easy for you to say".

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  2. #2
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Well, I understand your feelings on that. It is pretty detrimental to people to have them thinking they're incurably stupid because of one test. I also question whether the sort of questions on I.Q. tests even accurately measure a person's potential intelligence. I mean, there might be limits on a person if they're mentally retarded or something, but barring that, I think you can pretty much do anything. My third favorite quote is, "If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything." It might not be true for everything, but it seems like a healthy perspective.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by athenian200 View Post
    Well, I understand your feelings on that. It is pretty detrimental to people to have them thinking they're incurably stupid because of one test. I also question whether the sort of questions on I.Q. tests even accurately measure a person's potential intelligence. I mean, there might be limits on a person if they're mentally retarded or something, but barring that, I think you can pretty much do anything. My third favorite quote is, "If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything." It might not be true for everything, but it seems like a healthy perspective.
    I don't think I.Q. tests come even close to measuring "intelligence". The IQ community can't make up it's mind. Are they in search of something similar to height in intelligence? or are they in search of something that correlates with performance (analogous to a test of basketball skills)? It is just too broad to be meaningful.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

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    Senior Member tovlo's Avatar
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    Very interesting Ygolo. I share some of your dislike for the idea of intelligence. It does seem very ill-defined. However, in looking into it I've also accepted that it does seem to be measuring something tangible even if no one yet really seems able to accurately describe what that is.

    I've read before a bit about Dweck and the idea of growth vs. fixed mindset in terms of intelligence.

    I'm still thinking through my thoughts on her ideas, but I'm inclined to think of being intelligent and being smart as two separate things. In my view, being intelligent is potentially something fixed, like height, and being smart would be something you can work to improve as you would a skill. Intelligence is what you have, smart is what you do with it.
    "We don't see things as they are,
    we see things as we are."
    ...Anais Nin

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by tovlo View Post
    Very interesting Ygolo. I share some of your dislike for the idea of intelligence. It does seem very ill-defined. However, in looking into it I've also accepted that it does seem to be measuring something tangible even if no one yet really seems able to accurately describe what that is.

    I've read before a bit about Dweck and the idea of growth vs. fixed mindset in terms of intelligence.

    I'm still thinking through my thoughts on her ideas, but I'm inclined to think of being intelligent and being smart as two separate things. In my view, being intelligent is potentially something fixed, like height, and being smart would be something you can work to improve as you would a skill. Intelligence is what you have, smart is what you do with it.
    I think when you combine her research with those of Ericsson and others about the effect of deliberate practice on the Acquisition of Expert Performance, I think people may find one key to being "smart" (as you call it).

    I think if you were to then have specific experiments controlled for the effects of "smarts acquisition", you may discover what is "intelligence". Right now, I think the IQ construct (as it stands today) is a statistical red herring.

    It has too much/too little of both.

    I think, unlike a lot of sports, not enough about separation of important variables and their effects has made their way to public consciousness.

    We know there are many factors to performance.

    I think the top three are:

    1. Drive-This is what allows people to put in the time, and effort needed to get good at something, whatever that something is. For smarts, I think it is intellectual drive, an instinctual need to learn more and improve one's performance. If you are a naturally brilliant anti-intellectual, I think you are throwing away a lot of your intelligence.
    2. Technique- You can put in a lot of time trying to improve your smarts, but focusing on the wrong things may yield little (perhaps negative) results.
      Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.
      -Vince Lombardi
      This is why I consider IQ a red herring. There are many systems out there to improve your calculation speed, improve your long-term memory, improve your inference-making skills, your pattern recognition skills, your reading speed, and even ways to improve your (w/o chunking or chaining) digit span (forward and reverse, visual and auditory, fixed beat and random). Unfortunately, there is little public respect for these things, and many are treated as crackpot ideas. Granted, there is a lot of crackpot stuff mixed in, but that is why I think it ought to be a more active area of research.
    3. Talent-Talent is a hard thing to spot or quantify, no matter what the endeavor. A lot of times what is seen as talent is simply precociously practiced drive, or a sum of lucky stumbles onto proper technique. Not to say that natural intelligence doesn't exist.


    I think talent (natural intelligence) is logically the last thing to make quantifiable. Drive can be measured by the resources spent (time mainly, but money, and mind-share as well). Technique needs understanding of the structure performance (I think we've barely know what the structure of intelligence is). Talent, can then be well quantified by how quickly proper technique is learned, and can be controlled for percent of time spent on developing proper technique. One of the main problems pointed out about IQ test problems is that they are not very analogous to real problems, in that, for the problems on IQ tests, there is one correct answer, and the test maker knows it already.

    I think people with a natural penchant for puzzles will do better on IQ tests than people who don't. That doesn't make them smarter or more intelligent. I used to have such a penchant as a kid, I have almost none now. I am probably a lot "dumber" now by IQ standards too.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

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    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    If you are a naturally brilliant anti-intellectual, I think you are throwing away a lot of your intelligence.
    There are many practical tasks that require high levels of intelligence.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    There are many practical tasks that require high levels of intelligence.
    So.

    I fail to see the connection.

    What does that have to do with being an anti-intellectual?

    If you know that the tasks you do require high intelligence and enjoy them partly due to that, I would call you an intellectual.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  8. #8

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    I apologize for the cross-reference if it causes confusion, but it really did seem more relavent to bring the discussion to an IQ related thread, instead of where it was embeded.

    Note: There are not my main ciritisizms of IQ:
    1. IQ doesn't take into account creativity, socializtion, etc.
    2. IQ does not corellate with anything imprtant


    These are my main criticisms.
    1. IQ doesn't define what it is measuring, and the "construct" behind it is conveniently and constantly shifted to maintain correlation. This is the statistical version of ad-hoc hypothesizing. "Data-mining done wrong." "If you go fishing for it you will find it" (Like the importance of the "golden ratio" in making things look good), like not flipping over the "7" card in the Wason Card problem. It does not hold to good critical thinking. Perhaps you can show me evidence that IQ researchers have flipped over the "7" card, but usually what I am shows is more of the "4" card (confirmation bias), or the "A" card (nothing new).
    2. IQ's corellation with the things that are important are not adequate for its meaningful use in those contexts.


    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    It's all relative and I am not familiar enough with these profession to make a judgment. At the task level, I'd say yes... but I don't know for sure and haven't read anything in particular to plumbing.
    I suppose we have a difference in opinion then. I think most effective mechanics are gifted. A mechanic is very different from a janitor, but they are often clubed in th same category. I think mechanics are smarter than plumbers on the whole, but this all very subjective. I think plumbers on the whole are smareter than the average population.

    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    If you change the relationship, then no, there wouldn't be. I don't see the relevance, however. In both cases, higher IQ within the groups relate to better performance (crime solving and machinists both being tested before, FWIW). It'd just be a crappy IQ test (colinear with performance). In any case, it's just a matter of reference point.
    I was getting at two points here:
    1. The IQ construct makes ample use of statistical versions of amphiboly.
    2. I was providing what I considered a counterexample to one such use of amphiboly that correlates IQ with openness. I think effective mechanics are gifted, but they may just come out above-average on IQ tests due to the bias.


    Also, I would like to examine your sources (the p-values associated with the corellations, assumptions, and experimental methods used, data ignored, etc.).

    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    [...]
    To summarize don't use IQ to type, it doesn't help (except to identify low IQ people, I suppose )
    I agree with you, here. I will add that: I think it is always condusive to understanding to issolate as many factors from each other as we can.

    Also, can you point to the source you had regarding IQ distributions and type (as well as the sources for professions used below). They seem like interesting reading too.

    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    Is the opposite true? Yes. That means it has to do with the transfer - ie: the skills, the experience and the environment.

    I'll even go as far as saying that dropping a physics doctorate into my job wouldn't be at all scary, but I'm pretty sure trying to teach any of his material would be way beyond me. And would be, 3-4 years later... probably forever. The doctor would be able to my job by the end of the week. (My job falls in the 90-120 range, physics doctorates in the 125-150 range, roughly.)

    And of course, FWIW, if you are talking about the mechanical engineer/civil engineers... their group IQ is around 120-130.

    I also remember a study with car mechanics a long time back that had no formal training, in which they were average or above in IQ. I also remember technical schools doing it, in which mechanics (avionics, etc) were notably higher, roughly on part with arts student IQs.

    [...]
    This hits upon what I consider the most dangerous conclusions I see drawn from IQ research. Having worked with physicsts as well as engineers and technicians, I think all of them would do poorly in eachothers' jobs, and for quite some time too. The reasons for failure for all of them, I believe, will be similar.

    The main reasons, I think, will be:

    1. Lack of motivation on the part of the individual,
    2. Lack of resources provided for the individual to "ramp-up" on the background needed.


    The innate intelligence of the individual, I think, would be a rare limiting factor.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Also:
    More Food for thought

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

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    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    So.

    I fail to see the connection.

    What does that have to do with being an anti-intellectual?

    If you know that the tasks you do require high intelligence and enjoy them partly due to that, I would call you an intellectual.
    Generally the split between intellectualism and anti intellectualism is not centered on the level of intelligence required to complete a task. Doing so would be a tautology, don't you think?

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    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    Note: There are not my main ciritisizms of IQ:
    1. IQ doesn't take into account creativity, socializtion, etc.
    2. IQ does not corellate with anything imprtant
    The reason I didn't post a lot on this is because it gets into a horrendously large argument and vast amounts of data... and in part because I don't disagree strongly enough with you to spend that time. However, the reality is that your list here, if you actually agree that it does relate to many things, should be enough to validate IQ on its own. IQ is a more meaningful predictor than most personality theories, for example.

    I recommend Scientific American Presents: Feature Article: The General Intelligence Factor: November 1998 as well, but I suspect you'll want the underlying information.

    IQ doesn't define what it is measuring, and the "construct" behind it is conveniently and constantly shifted to maintain correlation.
    I see this conjunction as false. If what they measure isn't defined then it doesn't follow that what is being measured is being shifted. It is no different than personality tests... did you separate the different forms of MBTI? Short forms? What is being tested is very difficult to describe... and for the most part both have some physical biology that has been tested.

    IQ's corellation with the things that are important are not adequate for its meaningful use in those contexts.
    I think nothing I say will change your mind... but IQ is considered the most meaningful predictor of quite a bit... and it sure seems to get shown over and over again.

    As far as getting the publications - I'm assuming you have access via a student card or similar... I'm not trying to argue IQ all that much and the effort is gigantic and so convoluted... In the end, I'm just generally avoiding the whole topic as much as possible. If you have time to read several hundred papers... well, you might not walk away with a better understanding of it, heh. It's just an ugly topic.

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