The Impact of Culture on Intelligence


R.J. Sternberg, 2004 said on his research that “intelligence cannot fully or even meaningfully be understood outside its cultural context. Behavior that is considered intelligent in one culture may be considered unintelligent in another culture, and vice versa”. All of us has different implicit about what intelligence is for us, and many scholars have been interested in studying social, emotional and cultural intelligence. We all live in different orientations and that impact us on how we define and interpret things around us. Culture is a way of life of a person living in a particular place in a particular society. Just like for example the kind of foods ate in western countries totally differs from those of in the eastern countries and same as the religion. Culture can does have a significant influence on the intelligence of a person. If one’s culture is very rich, it shows how people’s behavior towards the conservation of their heritage. The different aspects of intelligence varies across culture. Still there are a lot of questions that needs to be answered of regarding intelligence. Shabnam, 2014 said that not all people have equal opportunities to adapt to, shape and select environments. In general, people have social-economic standing tend to have more opportunities and people with lower socio-economic standing have fewer (Sternberg & Grigorenko 2004). In ones culture, the economy or political situations of the society is considered to be a factor. Other variables that may affect such opportunities are education (such as literacy), political party, race, religion and so forth (Shabnam, 2014). Just to give an example a person who has college education can have more opportunities than a person who only has highschool education.

Being successful does not require to interpret one’s own idea as well as of those others, but also to create ideas and to persuade people of their value. Giving further understanding on the impact of culture on intelligence for example those street children, know how to do simple mathematics may have the capacity to run a street business for survival like those selling rags and flowers on streets but knowing how to solve similar problems in the classroom may not be for the purposes of survival. The process needed in solving problems may be the same in the classroom or street level, but with different context also result to different behavior (Shabnam, 2014). Intelligence comes from the adaptation of the environment (Intelligence and its measurement, 1921; Sternberg & Detterman, 1986). Intelligence may change as well if they will try to modify the environment to suit oneself and sometimes finding a new environment that is better to match one skills, values or desires.

Individuals in other cultures often do not well on tests as vice versa on another culture. The process of intelligence is universal, but the manifestations are not. Intelligence is used to unleash a persons full potential but then can be used for destruction. By understanding cross-cultural meanings of intelligence and well-being, we can seek to the attainment of well being rather than to its destruction.


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