IQ tests attempt to measure human learning abilities. That is important for placing people into situations which can best use those abilities. A person who has an excellent command of their native language at a young age would be a good candidate for success at a language translator school. Vocabulary tests in one’s native language can be quickly administered and it is a good proxy for the intelligence needed for a language based occupation.
Unfortunately, many important situations which people encounter routinely are not helped much by the ability to think more quickly. Usually it is more helpful to be able to think about problems in a way which will bring about better outcomes. Usually being quick just gets a poor answer more rapidly, but thinking maturely gets better results more consistently. What this post attempts to measure are those qualities of maturity which tend to get the better long-term results and to present them in an orderly fashion.
The following immature coping strategies were mentioned in the book What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought by Keith Stanovich, p. 149.
- Need for closure
- Belief perseverance
- Confirmation bias
- Openness to experience
- Faith in intuition
- Counterfactual thinking
- Categorical thinking
- Superstitious thinking
However useful that list may be for identifying poor coping strategies, it lacked a structured form which would be helpful for identifying the relative levels of performance.
My1995 Probaway called Paths – to human maturity are charted from infancy to adulthood and on to sagehood, does offer a clear structure and gives ways for identifying levels of maturity from observed and measurable behavior. A pencil and paper test with questions which would probe a subject’s underlying personal strategy for solving problems can be derived from the chart. It would be helpful for anticipating future behavior from an individual when confronted with general problems. Questions and potential answers to this MQ-test would be of the type shown below:
- When I meet new people I like to:
- get control and tell them what to do
- impress them with how important I am
- do things to make them more comfortable
- find problems we can solve together
- do worthwhile things which they can do too
- When people give me trouble I:
- ignore them and think about my friends
- think about ways to get even
- control my anger and do my work
- work harder on other things I like to do
- help them get what they want
- When nasty people get in control I try to:
- stay home and totally avoid them
- leave their presence as quickly as possible
- work but disparage their values and methods
- try to understand and work with them
- find a common goal for everyone’s benefit
This questionnaire, if answered honestly and without preconceptions, would show the typical coping strategy of the person. The questions and answers may appear vague but there is an underlying time binding quality to them which the less mature persons will not recognize as being very meaningful. In the example above the answers are arranged by level of maturity but in a full test of twenty questions of this type the answers would be arranged randomly.
Stanovich’s list for poor thinkers is made up of problem solving techniques normally associated with children and problems arise for adults when they apply these immature coping strategies to more complex adult problems. They have learned strategies with limited scope and flexibility and have not grown beyond them. When more data is presented to these people they fit the new data into their preexisting worldview and because their worldview is a childish one these new ideas will be used to support that limited view. The new data are brought in only to support their already existing conceptions and there is no improvement in coping strategies. Thinking quicker with poor coping strategies will not give better results because their tools are limited. Groups of people with poor coping strategies but mixed backgrounds can by arguing about various problems come up with better solutions than any individual because group discussion can cancel out each individual’s flawed thoughts.
Adults can communicate faulty thinking to children as was done in the famous newspaper story, Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus in which various trusted adults lied to a girl about the Christmas myth. The adults perpetrated this story on the girl as absolute truth and the readers of the story thought it was just harmless fun but it was very destructive to all concerned. Virginia probably suffered considerable embarrassment in the short run but for the rest of her life she probably cultivated a healthy doubt of authority figures’ veracity. The writer and the readers of the article are much the worse off, because it contaminated their perceptions of proper perceptions and behavior. This type of thinking feeds back upon itself and ruins the mind’s ability to perceive the world correctly and thus it becomes impossible for it to relate to the world and other people in fully appropriate ways. They have fouled their perceptual apparatus and will suffer for it their entire lives.
Even the short MQ-test above would probably identify the people who would be most susceptible to the contamination latent in the Virginia story. Those who most enjoyed it and believed in the conclusions at the bottom of the story would probably be choice candidates for poor life coping strategies.
Having considered how destructive of a young person’s mind that kind of thinking would be, go and read the original article. And, please remember,
When a child asks you a question answer it truthfully.