practical intelligence

One of the most accurate predictors of life success is practical intelligence. It refers to a person’s ability to learn and improve their talents. It’s the ability to solve problems quickly in everyday situations.

People with high practical intelligence can better use their capabilities and have more productive lives than those who do not. So, how can you improve practical intelligence? Do you have the same queries like this? 

Don’t worry! We’ll discuss broadly practical intelligence and how to enhance it in this article. So keep reading! 

What Are Sternberg’s Three Types of Intelligence?

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Intelligence, according to Sternberg, is much more than a number. Sternberg’s intelligence theory provides a more practical approach beyond books and abstract thinking. Sternberg has spent decades trying to identify a reliable indicator of long-term success. The traditional IQ test was not a good predictor of success because it can only measure a narrow range of analytical talents. And according to Sternberg, success in life requires a different set of abilities.

As per Sternberg, practical intelligence is the best predictor of long-term success. His theory includes several components, including practical intelligence. There are three categories of intelligence in the Triarchic theory of intelligence:

  • Analytical Intelligence: Ability to explore, criticize, and analyze
  • Creative Intelligence: The ability to come up with fresh ideas, inventions, and solutions
  • Practical Intelligence: Ability to put what you’ve learned into practice

What is Practical Intelligence?

Source: Book Shrinker

This type of intelligence also aids in handling difficult discussions and adapting to new obstacles on the fly. Practical intelligence people are adaptable and reflexive. They adapt their approach to the needs of the environment and the situation. Those with a high level of pragmatic intelligence stand out. This type of intelligences are: a social savvy, or the ability to interact effectively and develop positive relationships with others.

What is practical intelligence, exactly? This question may be more difficult to answer than we first assumed. The capacity to apply one’s intelligence to practical, everyday problems is practical intelligence. The part of intelligence that requires adaptation to, molding, and selecting new settings is the Triarchic hypothesis of intelligence.

People with practical intelligence frequently end up in leadership positions because of their capacity to interact successfully with others and adapt to their surroundings. In today’s world, a practical intelligence example may be nailing a job interview based on your resume and your ability to handle a tight environment. Furthermore, you should communicate effectively and influence the people you’re speaking with, as Sternberg suggested. There are also simple and scientifically proven strategies to appear smarter in that interview. Although Sternberg claims that you can use the skill in many industries and occupations. Many successful managers, entrepreneurs, and salespeople are generally very practical and bright.

What Is Practical Intelligence in Psychology?

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The intelligence of common sense reasoning is practical intelligence. Some refer to it as “street smarts.” It’s the ability to think quickly in situations where one needs fast solutions. This type of intelligence also aids in handling difficult discussions and adapting to new obstacles on the fly. Practical intelligence people are adaptable and reflexive. They adapt their approach to the needs of the environment and the situation. Those with a high level of pragmatic intelligence stand out. This type of intelligence is also social awareness, the capacity to communicate effectively, and the ability to develop positive team relationships.

Although it has always been difficult for psychologists to define intelligence, in his Triarchic Theory of Intelligence, Robert J. Sternberg established three forms of intelligence. Analytical, creative, and practical intelligence are the three components of its formation in particular. Some people, however, are capable of excelling in all three dimensions of intelligence.

Analytical Intelligence vs. practical intelligence: what’s the difference?

Practical intelligence goes up thinking to a real-life issue, whereas analytical intelligence involves applying complicated reasoning to more abstract problems. Psychologists also link analytical intelligence to intelligence quotient (IQ) tests, which assess a person’s ability to comprehend and recall information. Practical intelligence is more difficult to assess with an IQ test since it is concerned with how a person adapts to a situation and navigates their immediate environment rather than how they assimilate information.

How does practical intelligence differ from IQ?

IQs are basically a measure of potency; you scored well in these categories, allowing you to do tasks requiring this ability faster and more readily than most. You process information more quickly, simply, clearly, and in several directions. When most people analyze possibilities, they do so one at a time; however, people with high IQs process each option faster or concurrently.

On the other hand, practical intelligence is distinct in that it is the ability to absorb, consume, process, understand, and apply information. Highly bright persons are more likely to be successful. They enjoy learning, live to learn, and most, but not all, learn rapidly. This, however, does not deter them. Intelligent people have a wide range of information, from the completely worthless and unimportant to intricate details regarding difficult topics.

Practical intelligence – why is it important?

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Practical intelligence is essential since you can use it to anticipate your success in various settings, from negotiating with new clients at work to quickly adapting to new tasks. Practical intelligence can assist you in attracting the attention of a potential employer. It can also boost your confidence during the interview process, particularly when answering behavioral interview questions concerning your past experiences. You can show an employer that you have practical intelligence by demonstrating that you can handle various situations.

Is it Possible to Develop Practical Intelligence?

Practical intelligence may be developed, and the key is to invest in your strengths and limitations. Obviously, being honest with yourself about your limitations and strengths is required. Trying new things is beneficial if this intelligence is linked to experiences. However, it’s also crucial to consider whether these experiences match your personality.

The distinction between sociocultural settings, on the other hand, is a determining factor in the sort of practical intelligence because the many contextual factors are definitive in defining the concept’s frame.

In a word, practical intelligence matches mental abilities to difficult situations to produce successful answers. Being smart, however, necessitates honing all elements of our intelligence.

How Do You Develop Practical Intelligence?

So how can you develop practical intelligence if you don’t learn it in school? “Practical intelligence is acquired through your own experiences, including your mistakes and the experiences of others,” says Sternberg. “Experience isn’t enough—you have to use what you’ve learned!” Practical intelligence is similar to learning how to study. It requires you to examine your strengths and weaknesses, experiments with alternative approaches to tasks, and build on what works and what doesn’t. To obtain this kind of expertise, you must first be actively involved. According to entrepreneur Andrew Medal in Entrepreneur magazine, try computer coding, sketching, escape rooms, literally making things, and even playing games to increase practical intelligence.

Some individuals are born with a natural aptitude for practical intelligence. Even if you believe your street smarts are weak, you can take steps to increase your situational awareness. 

Here’s a quick list of activities that can help you hack your brain and boost your practical intelligence:

Source: Practical Psychology

Openness and flexibility

Buddhists have established fixed thinking for ages as one of the greatest barriers to learning. The notion that we already know everything we need is fixed thinking. Isn’t there much you can add to a glass that’s already full?

Instead, strive for what Buddhists refer to as the beginner’s mentality. Allow yourself to let go of what you believe you know and start over. This is the most effective technique to break free from previous beliefs. You might even find a few blind spots holding you back. The best method to improve your practical intelligence is to learn. And the capacity to learn quickly is a valuable skill in and of itself.

Learn from your experiences

Every day is a fresh opportunity to learn, and the more you learn from your own life experiences, the more practical wisdom you will get. Consider writing down what you learned from the event the next time you make a mistake. This might help you compare different options in a comparable situation and revisit difficulties as they occur. The more you learn from your mistakes in the past, the less likely you are to repeat them.

Learn to code

The late Steve Jobs said that everyone in the United States should learn how to program a computer because it taught him how to think.” Coding isn’t just for programmers. Coding can be beneficial even if it’s only to understand better how computers function, improve your job efficiency or add some common knowledge and a fun pastime to your resume. By dissecting and analyzing problems, coding develops new synapses in your brain. By learning how to code, you also learn how to learn.

Explore your strengths

Knowing your strengths can help you improve your skills in other areas and manage new difficulties more effectively. Recognizing your strengths might also help you relax. Consider how you react in different situations and what you were able to do as a way to discover your abilities. Keep a journal of your job accomplishments, including positive outcomes and feedback from your boss or team.

Discover new ways to complete tasks

Because you’re concentrating on figuring out what works best for you and what doesn’t, finding new approaches to complete jobs can increase your productivity and improve your practical intelligence. Make a list of everything you want to get done that day at the start of each day. Make a habit of writing down your duties as soon as they come to mind. Concentrate on the chores that you anticipate taking a long time to finish.

It’s also a good idea to identify the less efficient activities you undertake throughout the day and work on lowering the amount of time you spend on them. You will have more time to perform the most critical activities this way. You can also make a daily calendar and track which tactics you utilize to achieve your objectives.

Sketch

Don’t worry if you’re not a natural artist; sketching can help you learn to draw freehand by noticing crucial angles and forms, patterns, and shadows. Because sketching requires you to absorb more details than freehanding, it can actually make your brain more awake.

printing papers on brown surface
Photo by Marvin Meyer

Try an escape room

These objects are my obsession. In the last five weeks, I’ve been to seven. An escape room is an immersive experience for people unfamiliar with it. You’ve been confined in a chamber and must solve puzzles and decipher clues to escape. These escape rooms teach you how to work together and use limited resources. There is no way to prepare for it; every second matters, and every move is a learning experience.

Solution-focused thinking

Sometimes it feels as if the entire world is resting on our shoulders. It’s not always easy to find a solution when there’s so much to deal with. Problem-focused thinking is the term for this mental practice. Changing the breadth of your focus is one method to deal with this.

Set yourself the challenge of focusing on prospective solutions rather than your issues. Concentrate on the things you have control over. Concentrate on the positive aspects of your life that make you happy.

If you can’t alter something, try changing your attitude toward it. Although you may not always have control over your external circumstances, you influence how you respond to them.

Develop a beginner’s mind and practice solution-focused thinking to improve your practical intelligence. You might be surprised at how much these basic mental exercises can improve your life.

Acquire new skills

Read new books, take a course on something that interests you, or watch videos to learn new abilities. Try to concentrate on one ability at a time while you learn new ones. You might be interested in learning a range of fun and practical skills. Drawing may help you express your creativity and comprehend concepts, while coding can help you learn how to evaluate an issue in various ways.

Choose a talent you’re most interested in learning and establish goals for yourself to achieve. You can also reward yourself for achieving specific goals. For example, If you would like to learn Spanish, you may establish weekly language goals and reward yourself with prizes once you’ve gotten some practice.

Build something

Take a carpentry lesson or any other DIY building class that interests you. In class, make sure you work with your hands. Learning to construct pushes your mental boundaries and allows you to see resources and supplies in a new light. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll have an extra bookshelf.

yellow red blue and green lego blocks
Photo by Xavi Cabrera

Play games

Video games provide impulses that are uncommon in real life. Pick a strategic or role-playing game to play. Games like World of Warcraft provide you tasks to do with specific resources, and the higher your level, the more difficult the task becomes, so there’s always a possibility for improvement. According to studies, playing video games improves your cognitive and motor skills, which helps you increase your overall intellect. So start playing.

Take a hike

Being in nature can help you put things into perspective and tap into your creativity. Whether it’s the beach or the mountains, I enjoy being in nature. It relaxes me, allowing my brain to reach new levels of cognition and creativity. Nature has so much to offer, and going outside helps enhance your brain’s potential by putting life into perspective.

Invent something

What would make life a lot easier for you? It might be a simple item you can use at home or organize to make the most of the space in your apartment. You can be more imaginative by figuring out how to utilize your resources best or creating new value through your own creations. They might be as easy as putting your phone in a cup to get louder music or as complicated as a completely automated home. You’ll be able to access additional brainpower for other tasks if you start using your brain creatively.

Change how you think

Finding a solution to a range of problems might be difficult at times, so it’s critical to shift your mindset to focus on solutions rather than the problem itself. Challenge yourself to come up with potential solutions the next time an issue arises at work. Instead of focusing on the things you can’t change, consider the ones you can. Because it entails focusing on what’s going well rather than being unduly preoccupied with the nature of the problem, solution-focused thinking can be a terrific method to develop and improve your practical intelligence.

What are the benefits of developing your practical intelligence?

person writing on white paper
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Various types of intelligence can help people be more successful in life, but practical intelligence is particularly vital for leadership roles in various industries. Practical intelligence can make it easier to learn from your failures while also providing useful insights into yourself. Other advantages of strengthening your practical intelligence include:

  • It is easy to adjust to your surroundings.
  • It can assist you in better comprehending and motivating others.
  • Allows you to finish activities more quickly and efficiently.
  • Assists in the formulation of effective solutions to everyday situations.

Can you test practical intelligence?

Sternberg did create an exam called the Sternberg Triarchic Abilities Test (STAT) to measure practical intelligence, which has been offered as a viable alternative to the SAT for college admissions or even graduate schools and has shown promise in research in predicting students’ future success. Although research on demonstrating the hypothesis of practical intelligence has been divided, entrepreneurship research has shown that strong practical intelligence scores predict commercial success.

Which Test Is Used to Measure Practical Intelligence?

Sternberg employs a concept he calls “tacit knowledge” to assess practical intelligence. There are three qualities of tacit knowledge:

  • It includes hands-on experience on how to do jobs. 
  • It’s intuitive and learned via experience; thus, it’s difficult to convey or write down. 
  • It is personal and intimate to the user, and it is frequently acquired without teaching or guidance.

Sternberg’s tests of tacit knowledge are based on real-world situations that humans experience. The more competence you’ve gained in your chosen subject, the more tacit knowledge you’ve obtained. People that are good at creating tacit knowledge do well in jobs like management, commerce, academia, and psychology.

Is practical intelligence fixed?

blue and white light streaks
Photo by Solen Feyissa

Even though science has discovered that children receive their intellect from their mothers, the wonderful part about practical intelligence is that it can be learned. Practical intelligence can be acquired rather than inherited, Sternberg continues. In other words, it’s something you learn in school because it’s built on your own unique experiences—how you process the information you acquire from them, how you act on it.”

This is not something you can learn in school because it’s built on your own independent experience, how you filter out relevant information and combine it with what you already know. People with practical intelligence achieve this without putting forth any effort, so they appear to “have a way” about them that allows them to glide through life with ease. People with practical intelligence achieve this without putting forth any effort, which is why they appear to “have a way” about them that allows them to glide through life with ease.

Conclusion

The ability to successfully channel learned knowledge to real-life situations is described in the context of practical intelligence. Furthermore, because practical intelligence is tacit information, it is acquired via experience and is not inherent.

It is obtained through a process in which a personal experience and the details within serve as triggers for future investigation. With this in mind, dealing with real-life problems necessitates an internal process of weighing the considerations, selecting the most significant aspects, and applying them to everyday scenarios. Apparently, we’re talking about a completely individual procedure.

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