Social Skills (SQ) vs Social Intelligence

"I am not sure to what extent SQ is related to interpersonal intelligence. A person might be very shrewd at understanding other people but not very likable ...At least for now I have no interest in creating my own set of assessments for my multiple intelligence theory."

Howard Gardner, Professor in the Graduate School of Education

Harvard University

Recently, a system has been developed which produces unbiased measures of both how well a person gets along with others (Social Quotient) and that individual's social or interpersonal intelligence. Numbers for each measure have been computed for over 2400 high school students in northern California. As Gardner predicted, the data shows only a minor relationship between these two social abilities. Employers and college admissions personnel show much more interest in an applicant's sociability (SQ) than in his social intelligence.

In the Social Quotient system, students in a classroom privately rank each other on a social preference question, such as "Whom would you want to spend a lunch break with?" Responses on this particular question show almost no correlation between a student's social and IQ skills, as predicted by psychology professor Ceci of Cornell: "I think it [SQ] could prove very useful in predicting school and work success that is statistically independent of any variance due to IQ." SQ seems to measure a fundamental human trait that is at least as important for success (of all types) as is IQ. Interestingly, non-whites tend to score somewhat higher than whites in SQ, the opposite of their IQ scores.

The Social Quotient system also develops a measure of social intelligence by comparing the similarity of one student's social marks of others to the collected group assessment of each classmate. A large similarity indicates a student has a good understanding of the social dynamics in the class. While understanding interpersonal relationships could help an individual become more likable, the numbers show that it does not help much. Students have a better chance of becoming more likable by practicing the traits that correlation analysis shows are most important to social skills. In Northern California high schools, these traits include: general happiness, an upbeat positive personality, smiling, and really liking most people. Surprisingly, physical attractiveness and going along with the crowd were negative factors in a student's social popularity in 25 classrooms measured. Desirable traits vary somewhat by gender. For example, the greatest negative factor for males is long hair, while for females it is excess body fat. Different communities show some differences in desirable traits, but the overall patterns are similar.

Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 09:43:38 
To Van Sloan
From Howard Gardner (hgasst)
Hi and thanks for your communication.  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.  While I can't (for reasons of time) go further with  
your work, I'm glad that you are proceeding and I wish you the best with it.

Go to: Gardner's 1999 writings on Intelligence

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