Intelligence in Individuals and Groups

From civicintelligence

Most people are familiar with intelligence as a quantity measured by an IQ test. However a quick look at Wikipedia will show that there is little in the way of consensus as to what intelligence is. While psychometric testing is widely accepted in academic and professional circles as a reasonable representation of an individuals general intelligence, it does not take into account genetic vs. environmental factors.

In general, intelligence relates to the functions of the brain that take in information and process it in some way to allow interaction with the world. This processing takes many forms. We can somewhat artificially look at these faculties in isolation to get a sense of the scope of intelligence.

  • Anticipating - projecting likely outcomes in the future based on passed information and outcomes
  • Attending - focusing attention on the details of a specific idea or challenge
  • Classifying, categorizing, and naming - sorting information in a way to make retrieval easier in the future
  • Communicating - expressing information and ideas to others in a way that can be understood
  • Decision-making - choosing one of many possible actions based on evaluation
  • Doing - carrying out a chosen action
  • Emotions and empathy - perceptions based on interactions with others and ability to relate to them
  • Evaluating - ranking information with relevance to a particular challenge or situation
  • Identifying and interpreting - the mechanism by which classifying, categorizing, and naming is achieved
  • Imagining - extending ideas beyond what has been directly perceived -- creativity
  • Instinct - tendency toward action not based on acquired knowledge, but genetic tendency
  • Knowledge, reasoning and learning - a built framework of information and its relations
  • Meta-cognition - thinking about thinking
  • Perceiving - taking in data from the world
  • Planning - projecting a series of steps needed to achieve a desired goal
  • Remembering - recalling information or experience

While this may not be a complete list of all the constituents of intelligence, this list shows that even the most basic task of finding your keys takes several mental processes to accomplish. You will most certainly be attending to perceiving visual information as you scan the surroundings. You evaluate likely places your keys might be based on remembering past places they have been and classification of the most likely spots to look in. A plan develops of the order in which you will look around. Maybe instinct will come into play if you trip and need to catch your balance.

All this is to illustrate that intelligence is more than learned knowledge, and more like a tool box for dealing with challenges presented by daily existence. With this in mind we can examine how civic intelligence relies on the intelligence of a group of people to solve problems mutually shared across the group.