How Has Psychology Helped Us With Language And Intelligence

How Has Psychology Helped Us With Language And Intelligence How has Psychology Help us understand the concept of Language and Intelligence as related to Human Beings? Psychology, the study of behaviour and mental processes concerns itself with the reasons organisms do what they do and how they behave in a particular way, For example why acquired skills are not lost when learnt ; Why do children rebel against parents and, why humans speak, love and fight each other. These examples of learning and behaviour are directly related to intelligence and language in human beings. It is said that language, foresight, musical skills and other hallmarks of intelligence are connected through an underlying facility that enhances rapid movements. To most observers, the essence of Intelligence is cleverness, a versatility in solving novel problems. Jean Piaget, development psychologist, emphasized that Intelligence was the sophisticated groping that we do, when not knowing what to do.

Neurobiologist Horace Barlow, framed the issue, by declaring that intelligence is all about making a guess that discovers some new underlying order. This neatly covers a lot of ground like finding a solution to a problem, or the logic of an argument, creating a witty reply or by guessing what’s likely to happen next. Maybe we will never agree on a universal definition of Intelligence, because it is an open ended word like consciousness and these concern the high end of our mental life. To help us understand this, Psychologists such as Francis Galton (1822-1911), Alfred Binet (1857-1911), Theodore Simon (1873) and Wechler et al, developed a series of tests to determine strengths and weaknesses as well as an overall measure of I.Q. Francis Galton was a pioneer in Intelligence testing .

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He proposed that people with high sensory and other abilities, were better adapted for survival. He therefore saw them as more intelligent then those of average abilities. Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon together developed a test called the ( Simon Binet Test ), to assess the ability of children’s performance at school. They developed a table used to compare the mental age of a child to the actual age to produce the concept of I.Q. The conclusion was that a particular intelligent person often seem quick and capable of juggling many ideas at once.

Not to be outdone, Wechler developed intelligence scales for both adults and children (WAIS & WISC). The scales are in two parts VERBAL AND PERFORMANCE, giving a clear picture of the person’s IQ; by identifying their strength and weaknesses in specific areas .The information can be used in planning individualized instruction programs. To help us understand the nature side of intelligence versus the nurture side Psychologists Bouchard McGue (1981), and Harrell et al(1955) provided us with correlations and comparisons . In the case of Bouchard and McGue the correlations thus provided were: Identical twins reared apart .72 Identical twins reared together .86 compared to Non-identical twins reared together .60 Siblings reared apart .47 Then child and natural parent .50 while. Then child and adopted parent .19 These results appear to strongly support the nature issue.

Numerous studies show or emphasizes the influences that environmental factors have on Intelligence. Harrell et al (1955) compared two groups of enormously deprived, pregnant women One group was given dietary supplement, the other none, the ages of 3 and 4yrs, the supplement mother’s children, scored higher than the other children. Goldfaith (1944) and Skeels(1966) in their research concluded that children raised in deprived orphanages often show serious intellectual deficits, but make marked progress, if removed to a more stimulating environment. Even though Intelligence can be determined through environment, researchers are finding out that people change as they grow older, and their experiences in certain areas can be optional. These options in behaviour differ in various countries and in different times both socially and culturally. But in all communities and in all times, they are alike in having language.

This essential connection between having language and being human is said to be one of the reasons that those interested in studying human nature have always been fascinated with language. Language is the most defining feature of human intelligence for without syntax – the orderly arrangement of verbal ideas humans will be a little more clever than a chimpanzee. To help us understand this neurobiologist Oliver Sacks took an eleven year old deaf boy named Joseph who could not hear spoken language, nor was exposed to fluent sign language, conducted tests on him and concluded, that because of Joseph’s handicap, he did not have that opportunity to learn syntax during the critical years of early childhood, he seemed like an animal or an infant . Joseph seemed stuck in the present, confined to literal and immediate perception, though made aware of this by a consciousness no infant could have. Seeing Voices by Oliver Sacks.

From that study with Oliver Sacks, the question arises, Is the ability to learn language innate or whether there is need to learn it? Noted Psychologist B.F Skinner help by setting forth some ways in which language or speech is reinforced (a) By a child imitating what is heard. (b) Where a child produce a random sound, to which adults attach meaning .or. (c) A correct sound in the presence of adults. The conclusion is that language is learnt in the same way that a person learns everything else, through the laws of operant conditioning ; selective reinforcements, shaping and imitation. Other Psychologists such as Noam Chomsky (1968), gives more insight to help us understand how language is acquired.

His view is that humans possess a brain mechanism for learning language. This he called the language Acquistion Device or LAD which enables children to understand the rules of grammar, without being taught them. He concluded that the ability to learn language is innate, that is, the ability to transform what is said to what is meant and back again. Research and animal studies have shown that language is that function which most clearly distinguishes beasts from humans. To understand why humans are so intelligent, there must be an understanding of how our ancestors remodeled the ape symbolic performances and enhance it by inventing syntax. Animal tests and studies have shown that chimpanzees use about thirty six (36) different vocalizations to convey about three dozen different meanings.

They may repeat a sound to intensify its meaning but unlike humans, who string together meaningful sounds to make meaningful words, they cannot do this. It is believed that one of the most striking advances ever made is that chimpanzees can achieve suprising levels of language comprehension when motivated by skilled teachers. Take for instance the case of Kanzi a bonobo (pygmy chimpanzee) whom it is said can interpret sentences he has never heard before like Go to the office and bring back the red ball, about as well as a 2-5yr old child. Neither Kanzi nor the child constructs such sentences independently, but they can demonstrate by their actions that they understand them. It is the firm belief that with possibly a year’s experience in comprehension, the child starts constructing sentences that set one word phrase inside another . But will Kanzi be able to do this? We humans do have a passion for stringing things together that is words into sentences, notes into melodies; steps into dances etc.

with rules of procedure. Might stringing things together be a core facility of the brain, one commonly useful to language, storytelling, planning ahead and others? In 1874, Psychologist, William James suggested that ideas might somehow compete with one another in the brain leaving only the best or the fittest. notwithstanding they question is asked, Is Language uniquely human after all ? A comparison was made between humans andanimals who seem to have language The apparent ease with which humans acquire compared with apes, supports the suggestion that humans are innately programmed to do so. Similarly, although these chimps have grasped some of the rudiments of human language, what they have learned and the speed at which they learn it is different in quality to that of human beings. Psychological research has demonstrated this, in order that we may understand it.

In referring to Kanzi, it is stated that his capacity for comprehension far outstrips his capacity for producing language. When he is frustrated, he becomes quit ‘vocal’ in that he makes high pitched squeaks. Is he trying to talk? If he could, then what would he say? We have seen that language plays a central part in the lives of human beings and Intelligence is related to language. It takes intelligence to speak and this comes from motives, ideas or feelings experienced privately, but cannot be seen unless they are expressed. On the other hand, language, an expression of communication allows for negative or positive behaviour.

Therefore to understand the concepts of language and Intelligence as related to human beings, Psychology which is the science that uses systematic methods in observing, describing, explaining and predicting behaviour and mental processes, should be applied. Psychology.