May 25, 2005

Mental Energy

David Lykken has written an interesting editorial in Intelligence where he urges researches to consider the problem of mental energy as a predictor of intellectual achievement. He states his rule as follows:
Mental energy (e)–the ability to persist for long periods thinking productively about a problem, the ability to focus attention, to shut out distractions, to persist in search of a solution–is perhaps as important as general intelligence (g) in determining both successful performance and constructive achievement and the product of these two variables, g*e, provides the most valid predictor of success and achievement.
Drawing many examples from biographies of geniuses, he proposes that not only were they "smart" and able to solve complex problems, but they had an immense capacity to shut out their environment and work for really long periods of time.

Intelligence (online)

Mental energy

David T. Lykken


Biographies of great achievers, in science as well as other disciplines, suggest that those of genius caliber possess, in addition to their intellectual gift or gifts, an extraordinary abundance of mental energy. They can focus their attention on some task for long periods without tiring or becoming distracted from the problem at hand. It is plausible to suppose that intellectual achievement is a function of the product, rather than the sum, of mental talent and mental energy. It is therefore surprising that no standardized measure or method of assessing mental energy has been developed. One obvious approach would employ a variety of self-report items similar to those suggested. Perhaps other methods of assessing mental energy are feasible and might usefully augment current methods of predicting academic and occupational success.


1 comment:

penningthat said...

It is a fantastic article, I am surprised not more research has been done on the topic. Have you read William James' essay "the energies of men'? Touches on the same subject back in the early 1900s. Thank you for writing a blog about this. Most interesting.