intelligence and achievement
( Paper02Version04, Qi Li )
Current research mainly focuses on the relationship
between IQ test and school achievement. This article will expand it
to a more general topic: the relationship between intelligence and
achievement. I argue that there are three relationships between them
as follows: (a) intelligence is the necessary condition for
achievement; (b) the process of achievement fosters the development
of intelligence and (c) intelligence is evidenced by past and
present achievement and used for predicting future achievement.
Intelligence is the necessary condition for
It is impossible to achieve without corresponding
intelligence, which is comprised of mental abilities. Ability is
about the quality of being able to do something, which serves as the
foundation of achievement. The function of mental abilities to
achievement likes the function of fuel to car. The car can not be
started without fuel.
Intelligence can not produce achievement by itself.
The occurrence of achievement requires not only ability but also
motivation and environment. Motivation is about the interest degree
of doing something. Environment is a complex concept, which is
composed of many factors: social value, economic states, race,
gender, ethics and health. The three components interact together to
produce achievement. The degree of exertion of ability is influenced
by motivation, which consists of positive motivation and negative
motivation. Positive motivation can stimulate the potential of
ability through keeping attention on the task. Negative motivation
will break the exertion of ability by weakening one¡¯s interest. The
component of environment has two functions. One is to provide the
practical opportunity, which is indispensable for the occurrence of
achievement. For example, one can not be a pianist without piano.
Another is to influence the dynamic change between positive
motivation and negative motivation. Appropriate environment spurs
positive motivation. For example, good speaking skills make it
possible for one to become a successful public speaker. But whether
the possible is realized depends on both motivation and environment.
A child may have no interest in speaking in public when he or she is
very young. He has little interest to be a successful speaker. If
the society the child lives in values public speaking, during the
process of growing up, the child will be encouraged by the parents,
teachers, friends and relatives to speak in public from time to
time. The environment he lives in motivates him. On the contrary,
improper environment may bring about negative motivation. The child
has much interest in speaking in public when he is very young. He
may spontaneously practices often. If the society he or she lives in
does not value or respect public speaker during the process of his
grow, his interest in public speaking will be weakened by the
environment. The environment will not allow him to take full
advantage of his speaking potential and motivation.
The process of gaining achievement fosters the
development of intelligence
Kornhaber, Krechevsky & Gardner (1990) conceived
of intelligence as the product of a dynamic process involving
individual abilities and the values and opportunities afforded by
society. This statement emphasized that the development of
individual abilities infers the development of intelligence in a
given social environment. The development of intelligence is
correlated with the development of individual abilities through
individual experience in particular environment. The process of
achievement is an important individual experience and display
directly the development of individual competences. Successful
experience gives individuals more confidence in their abilities and
thus enables them to understand their abilities under particular
environment. The acquired or refined abilities during the process of
gaining achievement will be stored into long-term memory connected
with the particular successful experience. There is a potential
possibility for individual to transfer these competences into other
related problem environment.
Intelligence is evidenced by past and present
achievement, and used for predicting future achievement
When we talk about how smart people are, we usually
use achievements as evidence for our claims. In traditional
psychometric theory of intelligence, test achievement is used as to
infer of intelligence. In Gardner¡¯s Multiple Intelligences (Gardner,
1983) , achievements in particular domains (e.g.: music, language)
are used to infer intelligence in specific domains. To some extent,
intelligence is the product of what we value and how we assess
achievement. Intelligence can not exist by itself without
One reason for the interest in measuring achievement
is to predict achievement. We do not know whether we can predict
achievement. I argue that it is possible, but there is no guarantee.
It is possible because intelligence is the foundation for
achievement. If environmental factors positively influence the
individual, achievement is possible. There is no guarantee that
predictions of achievement will be correct because no research shows
intelligence to be predetermined. Even Plomin¡¯s research (1997)
indicates that about half the variance of IQ scores have a
non-genetic origin. That means, that environmental factors account
for about 50% of IQ test scores and it may be greater for particular
individual. Achievement is the result of intelligence and the
appropriate environment which provides opportunities and enabling
individuals to take full advantage of the intelligence.
In sum, intelligence sets up the foundation of
achievement. The occurrence of achievement requires not only the
corresponding intelligence but also motivation and the support from
appropriate environment. If the development of intelligence is
thought as a dynamic process, during which there are many different
stages, achievements can be saw as the stages. So, the stages as
evidences witness the progress of intelligence. The new reached
stage, combined with motivation and environment will stimulate one
to pursue a higher stage. As a result, the further development of
intelligence is touched off.
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Kornhaber, M., Krechevsky, M., & Gardner, H.
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Scarr, S., & McCartney, K. (1983). How people make
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Sternberg, R. J. (1990). Metaphors of mind:
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Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The
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