Sternberg's Triarchic Theory of Successful Intelligence

Sternberg's Triarchic Theory of Successful Intelligence

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  • Individuals with strong creative (experiential) abilities often generate inventions and come up with new discoveries, while those with practical (contextual) abilities are able to apply what they have learned in the appropriate setting (Seemungal, 2018; Sternberg, 2005). Analytical (componential) Intelligence can be referred to as being book smart; it relates to intelligence quotient (IQ) and academic achievement, and the individual is generally good at problem solving.
  • Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Successful Intelligence proposes that intelligent behavior is a product of a balance among analytical, creative and practical abilities, where these abilities function collectively to allow individuals to achieve success in any context (Grigorenko & Sternberg, 1997; Sternberg, 2005). Sternberg believes that people who are aware of their strengths and use that information to build on their weaknesses are more intelligent (Psyc1113, 2011). 
  • Alright, so what do you understand by the term triarchic theory of intelligence? 
  • I think I am having a better understanding of Sternberg's theory as we review it together!
  • In fact, it can change or improve over time, and it can be considered in relation to an individual's internal world, experiences, and environment. 
  • Simply put, Triarchic Theory of intelligence suggests that intelligence is a dynamic phenomenon and not a fixed entity. Furthermore, individuals can be very good in one dimension of intelligence, however, still do have the opportunity to develop the other dimensions that they are not generally good at (The Brainwaves Video Anthology, 2014).
  • Wisdom, as discussed by Thomas and Kunzmann (2013, p. 897), is “broad and deep knowledge about important, difficult, and uncertain questions related to the meaning and conduct of life”, while age refers to the amount of time one has been on earth. The possible relationship between age and wisdom has been a source of debate and contention for many years. 
  • But wait, do people become wiser as they age chronologically?

  • While several lay people believe that age and wisdom may have a strong positive correlation, Worthy, Gorlick, Pacheco, Schnyer and Maddox (2011) believe that younger persons are likely to express wisdom at a higher level than older individuals depending on the type of decision that needs to be made, and vice versa. Consequently, Worthy et. al. (2011) are contending that wisdom does not necessarily increase with age.
  • One can also assess emotional intelligence (EI) in relation to wisdom. "Unlike traditional models of intelligence that emphasize cognition (thinking) the idea of emotional intelligence emphasizes the experience and expression of emotion" (Biswas-Diener, 2018, para. 17). Again, there isn't evidence to prove EI is correlated to wisdom. Instead, EI is flexible and derivative of experience (Biswas-Diener, 2018).
  • In another study about the relationship between age and wisdom, with the primary focus being economic and social decision making, Lim and Yu (2015), found similar results, suggesting that there was no significant relationship between chronological age and wisdom.
  • Thomas and Kunzmann (2013) express that as individuals develop across the lifespan, they are faced with challenges correspondent to the stage that they are at and this establishes some level of wisdom. However, they emphasize that wisdom entails deliberate effort that is generally obtainable at any level, which leaves anyone capable of obtaining wisdom (Thomas & Kunzmann, 2013). Notably, as one grows older, it would mean that they would have been faced with many developmental stages and therefore would have had more opportunities to obtain wisdom than younger persons. Unfortunately, if they do not choose to obtain wisdom from their experiences, it is likely that a younger person may be wiser, as the aforementioned researchers have found.
  • Intelligence and intellectual development are significant aspects of life that can contribute to someone’s ability to become a functional and successful citizen of society. Intelligence “encompasses the ability to learn, remember and use new information, to solve problems and to adapt to novel situations” (Biswas-Diener, 2018, para. 6), while intellectual development encompasses the transitional development that an individual experiences across the life span that strengthens one’s cognitive faculties including reasoning, rationalizing and learning abilities (Santrock, 2011).
  • People who behave intelligently balance three interrelated aspects of intelligence as aforementioned – (i) analytical - the ability to process and understand information, (ii) creative - having profound problem solving abilities and (iii) practical - the ability to apply intellectual skills, to effect change in a situation or the environment (Berk, 2014).
  • How can an understanding of intelligence and intellectual development be used to make citizens in your country of residence more functional.
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