Intellectual Ability

Intellectual abilities are those needed to perform mental activities — for thinking, reasoning, and problem solving. Intelligence quotient (IQ) tests, for example, are designed to ascertain one’s general intellectual abilities. So, too, are popular college admission tests such as the SAT and ACT and graduate admission tests in business (GMAT), common admission test (CAT), law (LSAT), and medicine (MCAT).

The seven most frequently cited dimensions making up intellectual abilities are number aptitude, verbal comprehension, perceptual speed, inductive reasoning, deductive reasoning, spatial visualization, and memory.

Jobs differ in the demands they place in incumbents to use their intellectual abilities. Generally speaking, the more complex a job is in terms of information processing demands, the more general intelligence and verbal abilities will be necessary to perform the job successfully.

A high IQ is not a prerequisite for all jobs. In fact, for many jobs in which employee behavior is highly routine and there are little or no opportunities to exercise discretion — a high IQ may be unrelated to performance. On the other hand, a careful review of the evidence demonstrates that tests that assess verbal, numerical, spatial, and perceptual abilities are valid predictors of job proficiency at all levels of jobs.

Therefore, tests that measure specific dimensions of intelligence have been found to be strong predictors of future job performance. This explains why companies like and Microsoft emphasize assessing candidates’ intelligence as a key element in their hiring process.

Companies visiting campus for recruiting MBAs in India prefer going to business schools that select students through CAT. CAT has three components: logical reasoning, quantitative analysis, and verbal ability.

The major dilemma faced by employers who use ability tests for selection, promoting training, and similar personnel decisions is concerned that they may have a negative impact on racial and ethnic groups. For instance, some minority groups score, on the average, as much as one standard deviation lower than whites on verbal, numerical, and spatial ability tests. However, after reviewing the evidence, researchers recently concluded that despite group differences in mean test performance, there is little convincing evidence that well-constructed tests are more predictive of educational, training, or occupational performance for members of the majority group than for members of minority groups.

In the past decade, researchers have begun to expand the meaning of intelligence beyond mental abilities. The most recent evidence suggests that intelligence can be better understood by breaking it down into four subparts: cognitive, social, emotional, and cultural.

Cognitive intelligence encompasses the aptitudes that have long been tapped by traditional intelligence tests. Social intelligence is a person’s ability to relate effectively to others. Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions. And cultural intelligence is awareness of cross-cultural differences and the ability to function successfully in cross-cultural situations. Although this line of inquiry toward multiple intelligences is in infancy, it does hold considerable promise. For instance, it may be able to help us explain why so-called smart people — those with high cognitive intelligence don’t necessarily adapt well to everyday life, work well with others, or succeed when placed in leadership roles.

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