Perception of Intelligence Term Paper

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Cultural Differences in the Perception of Intelligence

Sociology

For the purposes of this assignment, two cultures will be compared with respect to how they perceive intelligence. Culture is relative, as is perception, as will be demonstrated in this paper with specific regard to intelligence. The two cultures that will be compared are American culture and Japanese culture. These two cultures have an intense past and interconnected present; they are very different with respect to social context, perspective, and perception. The paper will consider how these cultures interpret and perceive intelligence differently. The paper will reflect upon how intelligence, among other characteristics and elements, is measured differently because of variations in culture. The paper will further consider how, within varying social contexts and cultures, one might test for a spectrum of cognitive abilities, with respect to the two cultures of focus, Japanese and American.

American culture is very self-centered relative to Japanese culture; meaning, there is greater concern and focus upon the self, the individual, as opposed to the community, collective, or group, as is the focus of Japanese culture. American culture places more value on the person and the person's ability to extol his/her virtues loudly and proudly, while Japanese culture places a great deal of value upon humility.

…the Japanese tend to show humility in their self-estimations of overall "g" and seven Gardner intelligences. Humility should not be seen as a negative factor. However, the Japanese believe that effort and endurance are the roads to success, and also believe that humility is related to effort and perseverance. Optimistic ideas do not create endurance and hard effort, but by understanding themselves they would assume that they need to work harder. Shimizu (2001) revealed that the Japanese, along with the other East Asian countries, have culturally distinct "cultural concepts" that guide Japanese social behaviors.
(Furnham & Fukumoto, 2008, 73)

Japanese culture places primacy upon the coherence and strength of the group, rather than focusing on the promotion of the individual. Americans understand and construct their identities based on what makes each person unique. Japanese often based their sense of identity on how they fit into or what their roles are within a series of groups, notably, their families. Japanese identity is contingent upon self and environmental awareness as a form of intelligence. From that cultural perspective, the logic follows that one will know how one fits within the group when one has adequate awareness of oneself and one's environment.

…Eastern notions of intelligence, has suggested that in Buddhist and Hindu philosophies, intelligence involves waking up, noticing, recognizing, understanding, and comprehending, but it also includes such things as determination, mental effort, and even feelings and opinions in addition to more intellectual elements. (Sternberg & Grigorenko, 2004, 372)

Therefore, self identification is one of the cultural factors that this paper considers to be an influence on how each culture perceives intelligence.

Gender is another cultural factor that influences how each culture perceives intelligence. There are a rare number of countries and cultures where there is a strong semblance of gender equality. While there is not gender equality in the United States, it is a country where women afford and enjoy a great deal more gender equality than most other countries in the world. Japan is a country that lags decades, and perhaps, a century or more behind in gender equality and fairness. Women are not considered equals to men in neither Japanese nor American culture, though, America is relatively much more fair than Japan.

In both cultures, perceptions and social constructions of gender weigh heavily upon perceptions of intelligence. When women are not considered people, have….....

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