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Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined

The Truth About Talent, Practice, Creativity and the Many Paths to Greatness

By Scott Barry Kaufman
12-minute read
Audio available
Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined: The Truth About Talent, Practice, Creativity and the Many Paths to Greatness by Scott Barry Kaufman

Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined (2013) is about finding a new, more holistic approach to assessing human intelligence, rather than focusing solely on IQ. Scott Kaufman outlines the flaws in IQ tests and offers a more effective theory of what makes us smart.

  • Psychology and education students
  • Parents and teachers
  • Anyone who’s ever been labelled “challenged” or “gifted”

Scott Barry Kaufman was diagnosed with a learning disability as a child but went on to study at Carnegie Mellon, Yale and Cambridge. He cofounded The Creativity Post, contributes to Scientific American and serves as director of the Imagination Institute at the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined

The Truth About Talent, Practice, Creativity and the Many Paths to Greatness

By Scott Barry Kaufman
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined: The Truth About Talent, Practice, Creativity and the Many Paths to Greatness by Scott Barry Kaufman
Synopsis

Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined (2013) is about finding a new, more holistic approach to assessing human intelligence, rather than focusing solely on IQ. Scott Kaufman outlines the flaws in IQ tests and offers a more effective theory of what makes us smart.

Key idea 1 of 7

A child’s development is determined by her genetics and environment.

People used to think genes were the sole determinants of a person’s intelligence and character. This view has changed quite a bit, but genetics still have an impact on human psychology.

Genes do affect certain personality traits but they only account for a small percentage of what makes us “us.” IQ is a good example of this. One recent study of IQ assessed 500,000 genetic markers in over 3,500 participants. The researchers found that the genetic markers accounted for between 40 and 50 percent of the differences in the participants’ IQ scores, but any single gene could only account for a tiny percentage of IQ variance.

And this isn’t only true of IQ. Many human traits are polygenic, meaning that several genes interact with each other to produce them.

So genes are important, but a child’s developmental environment plays a big role as well. Imagine two children entering the same year at school. One of them can already read well whereas the other struggles with reading. What will happen at school? Will the difference between them even out?

No, it won’t. The child who has a head start will probably keep reading and learning, getting even further ahead of the other as time goes on. She'll acquire a bigger vocabulary and be more likely to pick friends who are also advanced readers.

The other child will face the opposite problem. She’ll probably feel discouraged and may even turn away from reading: if books are more of a struggle, they’ll be less rewarding. The child’s vocabulary will grow more slowly as well. By the end of the year, the two children will probably be even further apart in reading skill than they were when they started.

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