Scientists have long wondered what makes a person intelligent. As it turns out, there could be many factors to intelligence, including emotional flexibility.
How do human beings become so intelligent?
The question may sound absurd to some. After all, I know plenty of people who I wouldn’t label as ‘intelligent’, but what is it that stops them from being so?
Be that as it may, it’s a very important question if we are to understand how the human brain works. This understanding is essential for the development of efficient AI, focused psychotherapy, educational resources, and neurological medicine.
Luckily for us, there are plenty of neuroscientists that want to find out why people are so good at learning things. Not only that, they also want to know why some are better at learning than others.Why are some people better at learning than others? #itsallintheemotions #giveintoyourfeelingsClick To Tweet
As it turns out, there isn’t one simple answer to that. Intelligence requires a lot of moving parts in the brain, so to speak.
According to a new study, however, there may be a key factor in how some people seem ‘smarter’ than others. That factor can be summed up in a single word: flexibility.
So if flexibility is the key, then perhaps emotional intelligence is a big part of how people innovate. It takes emotional flexibility to roll with the punches and find solutions outside of your preconceptions, after all.
Before we get emotions tied up into all of this, though, we should talk a bit about that new theory I mentioned earlier.
A New Theory of Human Intelligence
A paper published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences has recently made some heads spin. Its assertion is that the brain’s dynamic properties are the best way to predict intelligence.
We’ve known for a long time that the brain is modular. That is, there are many different regions of the brain that all activate to perform specific tasks. There’s an area for language, an area for logic, and yes, even an area for emotional responses.
Without all of those moving parts, our brains wouldn’t function. Therefore, the theory poses the idea that general intelligence comes from the interconnected architecture of the brain rather than any one part.
It makes sense. Take cars for example. You could have the best engine, but you might still get beat in a race by a car with better overall equipment.
According to the author of the paper, Aron Barbey, “Emerging neuroscience evidence instead suggests that intelligence reflects the ability to flexibly transition between network states.”
It is the flexibility between parts of the brain, then, that allow for innovation and higher thought processes. However, where does that flexibility come from?
It may be that it comes from a person’s emotional intelligence, which can allow them to accept a situation and think clearly.
What do Feelings and Emotions Have to do with Anything?
Does anybody deny that your emotional state has something to do with your ability to think?
Let’s answer that question with another question. Have you ever made a decision out of anger, only to regret it later? Chances are, you answered yes.
Keep a cool head, though, and your decision-making ability increases in effectiveness. That’s something that police and military outfits worldwide train for, and it’s something that we have been aware of for a long time.
It’s common sense not to let your feelings get in the way of your decisions. Emotional control, then, is vital to coming up with innovative solutions. It can help you avoid getting stuck when the solution you want doesn’t work.
That’s why you can find plenty of articles like this one, where emotional intelligence is touted as an important measure of success.
For another example, let’s look at AI and robotics. When someone like Elon Musk cautions us about the future of AI, that can cause fear. At the extreme end of the spectrum, that fear could bring us to abandon research in those fields.
But what if it didn’t? What if, instead of giving into the fear, we worked to understand the dangers and avoid them?
Which path do you think would lead us to autonomous cars and robot butlers? It’s pretty obvious, right?
If we don’t succumb to the fear of what could be, we can progress with caution. That kind of attitude is bringing us things like AI that can tell horror stories and all kinds of other wonderful innovations.