History of Social Quotient and this website

by Van Sloan


Develoopment of the idea. In mid-1997, I read a book by Dinesh D'Souza called The END OF RACISM: Principles for a Multiracial Society. I had recently finished writing a textbook on Economics that encouraged personal efforts and knowledge of the system as keys to one's economic success. D'Souza's work had a similar point of view, as did The Bell Curve and other works then on my reading list.

D'Souza indicated that while Blacks and some other minorities had below average IQ's, their social skills and other talents useful in business were probably as good as in any other group. But he believed that no paper and pencil test could really measure those other talents, as it could with IQ scores. I wondered if that had to be the case..

Some investigation soon showed that D'Souza's attitude was shared throughout the psychological community. Howard Gardner, who developed at Harvard a theory of multiple intelligences certainly thought that most were not very measurable. Gardner wrote on Social Intelligence: "Unfortunately, we don't know a lot about personal intelligences. We do not understand their operations well, we do not know how to measure these intelligences, and we are not skilled in training them."

But I remembered from my time working at IBM that branch managers listed their employees by value to the company. The ranking list was not strictly by sales performance, but by an employee's overall contribution. The list was a central part of any branch review by higher management. A regional boss would ask why those at the top of the list hadn't been promoted, and why those at the bottom were still on the payroll. The assumption was that by strengthening the staff, all the important sales and other issues would fall into line.

It occurred to me that a similar ranking list could be drawn up for any group. A teacher could rank all the students in her class in terms of their social skills. In fact, each student in the class could have his or her own ranked list of classmates whom they liked or didn't like. An exciting realization for me was that a summary of all such individual rankings would produce a relatively unbiased assessment of student social abilities. Further, a specific social skllls number (SQ) could be calculated for each individual by combining the individual student rankings. D'Souza's and Gardner's "impossible" pencil and paper measure for Social Skills ought to be possible, and done with reasonable effort.

First trials of Social Quotient. In the fall of 1997, I met with small groups of students at San Rafael (CA) High School. Having the students rank group members by likeability worked reasonably well. And the students who ranked high were enthusiastic about my passing on that information to colleges where they were applying for admission. The first full classroom trial of SQ took place on 8 December 1997 in a Terra Linda HS psychology course. The students had great difficulty ranking all 30 of their classmates, so we changed to having just five categories of likeability.

While I sought to survey a variety of types of high schools and counties, I also focused in depth on one community - the Vallejo (CA) schools. Eventually most freshman or sophomores in their three large high schools were surveyed. The local newspaper ran two articles on my Social Quotient surveys, one of which is regularly read by students about to take the test. The second news article featured a Target personnel manager talking to Vallejo students about SQ and job interviews.

New findings in Social Intelligence. With all of the new data generated from SQ surveys, I have been able to generate new knowledge. For example, there now is actual, unbiased data on the qualities that others find appealing in associates. Most students taking the SQ test also filled out a page listing their personal characteristics. When a computer calculated the social skills ranking of individuals, it also analyzed the personal characteristics of high and low scoring individuals. While some results have long been promoted by teachers, others (like race and attractiveness) were found not as important as previously thought.

The SQ testing also showed that Social Intelligence and Likeability are distinct characteristics, with not much overlap in an individual. This is contrary to the influential books of Howard Gardner. After reviewing my findings, Gardner wrote me: "I am quite interested in the fact that likeability does not correlate particularly with interpersonal intelligence. This adds something to the current conversation about intelligence and its relation to other virtues."

Expansion of IQ in website. Viewers of this SQ website have always been interested in its information on IQ. To meet their interests, I have gradually added information on intelligence, largely selected and summarized from other Internet sources. One intelligence segment that I personally developed is on state IQ's. That topic became very popular around the time of the 2004 election. In an Internet filled with hoax "data" on state IQ's, my analysis stands out as one that is based on real data. It acts as a symbol of the reliability of all the information in this website.

Serious viewers of this website learn that my main interest is not in IQ but in social and other skills important to success. Unlike IQ, which is likely fixed for life around age 5, these other skills can be improved. In my opinion, education should focus more on them. Unfortunately, educators (and most of the public) instead remain focused on IQ and school grades. But few want to talk openly about ethnic IQ differences - that would not politically correct. One reason for featuring IQ in this website is to get the topic out in the open. Until professionals and the public are able to deal openly with real facts in the social sciences, it is unlikely that much progress will be made in them. Unfortunately it seems that the old term "Social Studies" is more appropriate than Social Sciences for describing the research and teaching in this area.

Go to: Europe's Journal of Psychology asks Sloan for an article

Go to: Information on Van Sloan, creator of Social Quotient

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Comments to: VanSloan@yahoo.com




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