Can High Intelligence Truly Govern Our Emotions?

In summary: I think the important point is that the precedent needed to deal with such complex relations is experience.Experience, socialization, and exposure to complex environments are all necessary in order to cope with anger and aggression.
  • #1
PainterGuy
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Hi,

I often hear people saying that why and how that person could react in such a way , he or she is so intelligent, so educated etc. The statement implies that if a person is considered to be intelligent or educated, he or she could control their emotions such as anger, jealousy, depression, fear and other 'natural' negative emotions.

Personally, I do not agree with the statement. I think that mostly the emotions take precedent over our rational and intelligent behavior.

Yes, many of us tend to cool down as they grow old or become mature. Perhaps, it has to do something with the the level of release hormones and other chemicals, and/or perhaps the age and experience make us wiser and we learn to tame our emotions. For example, when I look at myself years back, I now consider myself to be more rational and I have now less of anger element in me than in the past though I was never a very angry person!

If we look at our brain, it could be said each person's brain could be divided into different segments such 'intelligence segment', 'anger segment', 'jealousy segment', 'fear segment', etc. For some persons, it might be that intelligence segment is quite large but at the same time anger segment is comparatively also large so such a person would be prone to anger and might not be able to handle his anger easily. Also, a person could have a large intelligence segment but his fear segment could be equally large, therefore such a person might not be able to exercise his or her intelligence to the same level in situations involving fear. For example, some persons cannot work very productively in presence of other individuals.

I'm presenting a very simple view of how I think of this though it's a complex process how I see it but find it hard to put it into words. For example, a person could be intelligent and less prone to anger but there might come a moment when he or she could react in a very negative way depending upon the cause or level of provocation.

My question is if my way of thinking is any valid. Or, is it just some silly personal opinion? Thanks for your help, in advance!
 
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  • #2
PainterGuy,
Omitted in your discussion were Strategic Deception, and a distinction between Emotional Intelligence and Rational Intelligence. Also part of all this may be the Persistence to Explore. The discussion you try to start is really very complicated.
 
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  • #3
symbolipoint said:
PainterGuy,
Omitted in your discussion were Strategic Deception, and a distinction between Emotional Intelligence and Rational Intelligence. Also part of all this may be the Persistence to Explore. The discussion you try to start is really very complicated.
Agreed. I'm not very fluent in English and you are correct the post could have been expanded with more information and in more logical fashion. Yes, it's very complicated topic. I just wanted to see if I'm thinking along the right lines and not some totally home-cooked theory!
 
  • #4
PainterGuy said:
If we look at our brain
It's not really a good idea to blame this on any kind of anatomy.

It's also not really a good idea to discuss a personal opinion in 'Biology'. Guess this'll be moved to General soon :)

PainterGuy said:
I think that mostly the emotions take precedent over our rational and intelligent behavior.

I don't think it's matter of that kind of 'precedent'. Emotions are usually considered more 'primal' than intelligence/rationality, but 'intelligence' is kind of expected to be able to deal with emotions. In the same time you should notice that to recognize a situation which you should be angry over may require intelligence, so it's really a complex relation...

Maybe the important point is that the precedent needed to deal with such complex relations is experience.

Socialization in kindergarten and in school. And even before and after that. In a sufficiently complex and full(*) environment, which gives you examples to follow, experience to undergo and: help if needed.

(*) well, it's a disturbing topic of interpretation and beliefs, but to be able to cope with anger and aggression too requires adequate exposure ...:sorry:
 
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  • #5
Rive said:
It's also not really a good idea to discuss a personal opinion in 'Biology'. Guess this'll be moved to General soon :)
I hope it doesn't happen because I'm more interested in the opinions of persons related to the fields of biology and possibly behavioral science.
 
  • #6
Well psychology pretty much has an answer to that. The so-called "emotional intelligence" has ZERO correlation with "cognitive intelligence". In psychology, the "Big-five" personality model is often used: openness (seek new experience), conscientiousness (self control), extraversion (self explanatory), agreeabless (empathetic), and neuroticism (prone to negative emotions). This model was based on factor analysis to answers to 100 questions related to behavior. Some people attempted seeing how intelligence affects personality, but zero correlation was found.

Yes, when people become older, particularly males, testosterone levels decreases. For example, Unsocialized maladapted aggressive children (especially boys) will remain violent until they enter late 20s. Most therapy have little to no effect for these people until they enter late 20s to early 30s where testosterone starts declining. Another factor is that most people get married and have children, and male estrogen level rises when they have children. Testosterone directly affects agreeableness. So both men and women become more agreeable as they age. That's why grandparents tend to be gentle, despite them being rather aggressive when they were young parents.

You are also right in the observation that emotions is what determines human behavior, and intelligence really has nothing to do with it. We can actually observe this in some scientists. Once instance I heard is when a professor dedicated his life to research and has started establishing a bigger theory based on what he has researched so far, but one student brought an experiment result that directly challenges this idea. The professor told the student that he must be doing something wrong, and tells him to do it again. The student gets the same result, and the professor berates him for his incompetence, psychologically damaging the student. An example of what actually goes on in the professor's mind is that he has low self-worth and a theory disproven makes him feel worthless. So instead of accepting the result and rework his theory, he instead goes into denial and attempt shutting down people that challenges it. Is the professor unintelligent? No. As a matter of fact, this professor is likely very intelligent. But his emotion (that arises due to personality) got the best of him as a defense mechanism.

Things like BPD, NPD, APD, HPD (cluster B personality disorder), which I am going to use as an example because most people knows about it due to the influence it has on other people, are emotional response that was structured due to harsh environment that the child was raised in. The important thing to note is that personality is NOT precisely what causes these personality disorder, but the experience that triggers a defense mechanism based on the personality they have. So when something happens, it triggers emotion (like anyone does), but that emotion is kept extremely intense and unable to calm down that causes destructive behavior. For example, Borderlines and covert-type-Narcissistics both tend to have low agreeableness and high neuroticism, but they have fundamentally different behavior. It's not the personality that causes this. It's the specific experiences that the child had to go through, which the personality structures its emotional response to in specific situation to defend themselves. So you might want to clear out the distinction between emotion and personality. Jealousy and fear is emotion. It's not personality.

I hope this answers your question.
 
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  • #7
Warning: LONG!
PainterGuy said:
[...]The statement implies that if a person is considered to be intelligent or educated, he or she could control their emotions such as anger, jealousy, depression, fear and other 'natural' negative emotions.
[...]
There is some correlation between cognitive intelligence and emotional control, and hence more rational behavior (you might want to scan the references for better data). Rationalizing motivations, which definitely include emotions, does help in analyzing them, and modifying them. And higher cognitive intelligence quite obviously facilitates this.

Also, who's more probable to read lifestyle-self-improvement books promoting concepts like "positive mindset" or conflict moderation etc.? The college graduate or the early high school dropout?

PainterGuy said:
[...]
If we look at our brain, it could be said each person's brain could be divided into different segments such 'intelligence segment', 'anger segment', 'jealousy segment', 'fear segment', etc. [...]
This is a layman's wrong assumption. Or rather, the assumption of non-existent precision levels in these findings.

There are a lot of caveats...

While some stuff emotionally unbalancing is well known, much of this rather not in the skull: Hypo- and hyperthyroidism are known to influence behavioral control, ofc the adrenal glands do, etc. Much is based on animal studies (which only can reliably infer stuff up to the limbic system, not the neocortex). And some knowledge is based on the effects of psychopharmaceutics, which, again, mot often comes from animal studies' radiotracer nuclide identification of cerebral accumulation sites.

Most recent, functional MRT studies of higher cerebral functions suffer from small proband group sizes, and most of them only state they found "correlation between" or "activity in the __ cortex / amygdala region / etc. etc.

And most older papers published either date back to data collected on non-volunteer "participants" in and after WW1, WW2, and some other armed conflicts - Where rifle ammunitions were optimised to pierce metal helmats, and thus pretty solid, so headshots would pass through the brain. (Modern high velocity rifle ammo doesn't allow for this, as it's optimised for shedding kinetic in the tissue [/sarcasm]).
And these World war era mostly just did and could find loss of certain functions after destruction of certain areas. Thus there's not so much certainty whether the neurons in the affected pathways or the axonal pathways passing through these regions are the cause of that loss.

Oh, and especially in the US a lot of data points were contributed by a certain Mr. Scoville, who went around county fairs and practiced thousands of lobotomies on people he could goad or persuade to subject themselves - or relatives - to this in his tent. Thereby establishing that the anterior part of the frontal cortex indeed does have an influence on motivation. For a decent chapter on that, look here. References are omitted in the web pub, but the book being published by University of California Press gives me confidence in the scientifc soundness and validity of this historical synopsis.

Lastly, neuropsychiatry only recently accepted / acknowledged that the cerebellum plays a very central and highly important role in modulating impulses and behavior. Before, it was only believed to modulate motoric functions.

PainterGuy said:
[...] For example, some persons cannot work very productively in presence of other individuals.
[...]
This can also have completely different reasons. One of those, pretty frequent among highly intelligent people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder*. There, the reason is sensory overload, caused by a hypersensitivity to unpredictable stimuli, interruptions, or spoken language. Which cause distraction, alert reaction, or confusion, and thus often complete loss of concentration... ...which is incompatible with qualified work.

If you need more references you can't find in wikipedia or via googling, I'll gladly oblige.* I refuse to use the more popular term A(Nazi)'s Syndrome, because Dr. A. from Vienna was, though not a party member, an enthusiastic Nazi collaborator and proponent of Volksgesundheit, including the "removal" of "non-productive" people from the gene pool, to not burden the Volk with sustaining them. He repeatedly gave talks and lectures lauding the concepts, and "referred" quite a bunch of his juvenile patients to the Spiegelgrund clinic's euthanasia programme. Or (juveniles!) to forced labor camps. Also, he wasn't the first to describe the problem. For more info, I recommend either googling it, or reading Edith Scheffer's well-researched book on this topic, or the Nature article by Simon Baron-Cohen, a leading autism researcher on that.

He doesn't deserve his name being "immortalized". Even Lorna Wing, who rediscovered his publication and coined the term after him, expressed grave remorse for having done that.
 
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  • #8
HAYAO said:
Well psychology pretty much has an answer to that. The so-called "emotional intelligence" has ZERO correlation with "cognitive intelligence". [...]
Two remarks:

1) Emotional intelligence =/= emotional control, or rational behavior. Which IMHO&U was the angle of the OP.

2) Psychology =/= Neuropsychology / -anatomy / -psychiatry. Most psychologist I've met so far don't have the slightest clue about neuranatomy... ...and even fewer ever bothered to access current primary sources regarding that.

Thus, while you're correctly reporting most observable phenomena later on in your post, it's only one viewpoint, which often is pretty much ... therapy-oriented.

HAYAO said:
[...] Things like BPD, NPD, APD, HPD (cluster B personality disorder), which I am going to use as an example because most people knows about it due to the influence it has on other people, are emotional response that was structured due to harsh environment that the child was raised in. [...]
This is a frequent observation, and a plausible hypothesis. But - fortunately - there's little experimental evidence. In a therapeutic context, what, apart from the "therapeutic contract" to be truthful, would hold a narcisst or borderliner back from just inventing that? Also, often therapists might and probably will induce / influence clients to go there.

HAYAO said:
I hope this answers your question.
I hope not. It's definitely a relevant contribution and viewpoint - but way short of the complete answer.
 
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  • #9
PainterGuy said:
I often hear people saying that why and how that person could react in such a way , he or she is so intelligent, so educated etc. The statement implies that if a person is considered to be intelligent or educated, he or she could control their emotions such as anger, jealousy, depression, fear and other 'natural' negative emotions.
I don't agree with the statement either.

But to be a bit more specific anger and fear/phobias can at least be treated with e.g. cognitive behavioral therapy, where those in therapy can learn ways to control anger or fear. Maybe jealousy can be treated too, I don't know at the moment.

See e.g.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_anxiety_disorder#Psychotherapies
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anger_management#Cognitive_behavioral_therapy

I think depression (mood) is a bit different animal. It can come naturally due to various circumstances with no ways to "control" it. But it can be countered/treated.

Major depressive disorder (clinical depression) is definitely a completely different animal.
The person suffering from it has no direct control over the mood.
It's a medical condition which requires treatment.
 
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  • #10
Let us not forget the star magic elixir in much of this: testosterone.
And a supportingcaste of thousands !
 
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  • #11
Godot_ said:
Two remarks:

1) Emotional intelligence =/= emotional control, or rational behavior. Which IMHO&U was the angle of the OP.

2) Psychology =/= Neuropsychology / -anatomy / -psychiatry. Most psychologist I've met so far don't have the slightest clue about neuranatomy... ...and even fewer ever bothered to access current primary sources regarding that.

Thus, while you're correctly reporting most observable phenomena later on in your post, it's only one viewpoint, which often is pretty much ... therapy-oriented.This is a frequent observation, and a plausible hypothesis. But - fortunately - there's little experimental evidence. In a therapeutic context, what, apart from the "therapeutic contract" to be truthful, would hold a narcisst or borderliner back from just inventing that? Also, often therapists might and probably will induce / influence clients to go there.I hope not. It's definitely a relevant contribution and viewpoint - but way short of the complete answer.
1) It really depends on what "emotional intelligence" means. I am actually against that concept in the first place. Because defining emotional intelligence is difficult and doesn't really do much for us. It also usually implicitly put favorable treatment on certain type of personality trait, which is just plain wrong. There is no such thing as "bad" or "good" personality traits.

2) No one cares about your experience with psychologists and what you presume about them.
 
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Related to Can High Intelligence Truly Govern Our Emotions?

1. What is the relationship between intelligence and human emotions?

The relationship between intelligence and human emotions is complex and multifaceted. While intelligence is generally defined as the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills, emotions refer to the subjective experiences and expressions of feelings. Some research suggests that higher levels of intelligence may be associated with better emotional regulation and understanding, while others suggest that emotional intelligence may be a separate construct from traditional intelligence.

2. Can intelligence be measured by emotional intelligence tests?

There is ongoing debate about whether emotional intelligence can be accurately measured by tests. While some researchers argue that emotional intelligence can be quantified and measured, others argue that it is too subjective and context-dependent to be accurately assessed by tests. Additionally, there is no consensus on what specific traits or abilities should be included in an emotional intelligence test.

3. Are there biological factors that influence intelligence and emotions?

Yes, there are biological factors that can influence both intelligence and emotions. For example, research has shown that certain genetic variations may be associated with higher levels of intelligence and emotional regulation. Additionally, brain structure and function can also play a role in both intelligence and emotional processing.

4. How do culture and environment impact intelligence and emotions?

Culture and environment can have a significant impact on intelligence and emotions. Different cultures may have different definitions and expectations of intelligence and emotional expression, which can influence how individuals perceive and express these aspects of themselves. Additionally, environmental factors such as access to education, nutrition, and social support can also play a role in the development of intelligence and emotional skills.

5. Can intelligence and emotions be improved or changed?

While intelligence and emotions may have some genetic and biological components, they are also highly influenced by environmental and experiential factors. This means that they can be improved or changed through various interventions and experiences. For example, education and therapy can help individuals develop and enhance their intelligence and emotional skills. Additionally, certain life experiences and events can also shape and change these aspects of ourselves.

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