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Social Intelligence Research Papers

Research papers on social intelligence focus on the origins of the psychological concept and the social factors that interplay with a persons social intelligence. Have the psychology writers at Paper Masters custom write your research on social intelligence and explore Howard Gardner and its founder Edward Thorndike.

Social intelligence is term originally coined by American psychologist Edward Thorndike in 1920, and defined as the ability of a person to understand others and act accordingly in human interactions. Today, the term has evolved to encompass the ability to navigate complex social relationships, and it often equated to Howard Gardner’s interpersonal intelligence, of his identified multiple intelligences.

Social IntelligenceTheorists believe that social intelligence was one of the main driving forces of human brain evolution. Human beings have created politics, marriage, casual and romantic relationships to a degree not seen in other animals. Social intelligence developed out of early human groups, who soon began living in larger, more complex societies around 500,000 years ago. The human brain size reached its modern size around this time, and what followed was the advent of civilization.

Since social intelligence quotient (SQ) is an abstract quality, measuring it is often a process akin to determining one’s intelligence quotient (IQ). People with lower levels of SQ are characterized as having lower social skills, and should largely avoid careers such as customer service. However, some scientists believe that social intelligence levels depend upon regular social contact from young ages, allowing the individual to develop a better sense of others and their psychological needs.

Although the term emotional intelligence (EI) is a more recently developed term, Newsome, et al., provide some background on its historical development.  In 1920, Thorndike proposed the term social intelligence.  He suggested that intelligence could be broadly categorized in the following three ways:

  1. Mechanical Intelligence - Mechanical intelligence provides a measure of a person’s ability to manipulate objects and things.
  2. Abstract Intelligence - Abstract intelligence measures one’s ability to conceive of ideas and relationships.
  3. Social Intelligence - Social intelligence measures a person’s ability to understand and manage people.

From 1920 through the mid 1990s, the literature debated the idea of social intelligence, whether it was a complete description of the behaviors required to interact successfully in society and whether it could be accurately and precisely measured.  In 1997, Mayer and Salovey argued that social intelligence is actually a subset of a more universal model, emotional intelligence (EI). The EI framework described by Mayer and Salovey as presented in the referenced article includes four levels: the ability to perceive and express emotion; the ability to use emotions to enhance cognition; the ability to understand and analyze emotions; the ability to regulate emotions to facilitate cognitive and emotional growth. Stated a bit more simply, a strong EI component allows the individual to understand the emotions of the other people involved and to use that understanding to help solve the problem at hand. Research by Paper Masters' writers provides a review of Daniel Goleman’s work, which is similar to the ideas of Mayer-Salovey.  While the idea of EI and its importance to success as an individual as well as success within organizations is reasonably well accepted, Newsome, et al., and many others have questioned in both qualitative and quantitative assays, whether EI can be measured with enough accuracy and precision to be used as a predictor of an individual’s success within an organization.  As well, even if the EI could be measured accurately, there is still much debate regarding its use as a predictor of success.  An article by Cherniss provides a much more extensive history of the development of the ideas surrounding EI.

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