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Is the Term "Personal Intelligence" Necessary?

(from the article) personal intelligence: “the capacity to reason about personality and to use personality and personal information to enhance one’s thoughts, plans, and life experience.” (Mayer, 2008, p. 209)

All knowledge begins with an observation. When we feel anger, or see others get angry, those are observations. Those observations are effects which our reasoning minds can try to explain by finding a probable cause. If we are very good at reasoning, we might find causes which will help us and others deal with anger issues. That's useful knowledge about human nature. But, the process for gaining that knowledge is the very same that we might use to gain knowledge on any other topic. Thus, I don't see the value in creating the specific term "personal intelligence."

You can be emotionally intelligent without being an optimist, for example.

Habitual optimism is no more intelligent than habitual pessimism. They are both biases which can mislead. The goal of making a prediction is to get it right. That requires a realistic view of the evidence. One should be optimistic when the evidence supports it and pessimistic when the evidence supports it. EXCEPTION: Predictions about our own health should be habitually optimistic since our expectations can become causes.

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John D. Mayer is Professor of Psychology at the University of New Hampshire and the author of numerous scientific articles, books, and psychological tests.


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