What’s the difference between rationality and intelligence? The question isn’t as redundant as it may sound.
We all know that each person can have a varying level of intelligence, i.e. some people are, let’s face it, smarter than others. Human intelligence has been tested, scored, and ranked for centuries, albeit with arguable measuring methods (we even have an IQ score!). Rationality, however, doesn’t work the same way. It can be tested, but the rankings and scorings are much different.
“In one study, Professors [of psychology] Kahneman and Tversky had people read the following personality sketch for a woman named Linda: “Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in antinuclear demonstrations.” Then they asked the subjects which was more probable: (A) Linda is a bank teller or (B) Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement. Eighty-five percent of the subjects chose B, even though, logically speaking, A is more probable. (All feminist bank tellers are bank tellers, though some bank tellers may not be feminists.)”
It appears that humans may be fundamentally irrational, because this kind of false assumption thinking is prevalent in studies all over the world. “In the Linda problem, we fall prey to the conjunction fallacy – the belief that the co-occurrence of two events is more likely that the occurrence of one of the events.” In other words, we sometimes make assumed inferences (that are often false) based on our previous life experience and knowledge.
Irrationality may be a common fundamental to the human race, but research does show that some people can be slightly more rational than others. You might assume that those with higher IQ’s are those with the higher rates of rationality, but that, my friend, would be another conjunction fallacy!
In fact, those with a higher IQ’s are just as likely to think irrationally as those with lower IQ’s. (There is even some research that supports that those with higher IQ’s are even MORE prone to irrationality!)
Thus, “Professor Stanovich and colleagues have introduced the concept of the rationality quotient, or R.Q. If an I.Q. test measures something like raw intellectual horsepower (abstract reasoning and verbal ability), a test of R.Q. would measure the propensity for reflective thought — stepping back from your own thinking and correcting its faulty tendencies.”
These same researchers are also exploring how, unlike intelligence that is inherent, rationality can be learned and trained. It may be possible to provide people with certain decision-making exercises that can actually improve their ability to think rationally.
Of course, we will never live in a world where everyone is thinking rationally all the time, but with more research and awareness, we can (maybe) begin to nudge people in this direction.
Article Curated from:
New York Times