Intelligence vs hard work, who is more trustworthy?

Text/Gao Leke

Some time ago, I read an article written by Zhou Mobai, “Those Years, Those People’s Zhang Er Er”, written by Teacher Zuo An. I was very moved, especially the author’s finishing touch:

Although I do one English reading time, I can do five in two or two. Although I am still clumsy in English class, Er Er still answers fluently. Although my English still didn’t beat her after all, after three years of hard work, the gap between my English and hers has narrowed by tens of points.

Although I can do five questions in the time it takes me to do one essay comprehensive question on February 2. Although Er Er was still blushing in the comprehensive literature class, I still laughed and talked about the situation. Although she still didn’t beat me in the comprehensive literature, but after three years of hard work, the gap between her comprehensive literature and mine has been narrowed by tens of points.

This article evokes a period of my own mental journey when I was studying, and I want to extend the topic of intelligence vs hard work superficially.

During a certain period of time in junior high school, for some reason, I fell into a state of mind like an obsession: I hope that I am a smart student, and I am also in the eyes of others. At that time, my mentality was quite strong. It may be that a few top students in the class who are calm in their studies but still get high scores have stimulated me, and I have a strong envy, and I yearn to be such a person; This is a kind of instinctive doubt and exploration that suddenly arises at a certain point on the road of youth.

The performance brought about by this kind of mentality is: to appear smart, one should draw a line with hard work, and cannot show a hard-working self where others can see-human psychology is so amazing, no one told me at that time There has always been a struggle over the importance of intelligence versus effort, and I automatically and instinctively pit intelligence against effort. So, in the classroom, the desire for intelligence made me deliberately stop writing, and spend more time chatting and having fun. I think this can make me look easy and effortless in front of others, and be classified as a “smart” person.

At the same time, it also gave me a psychological retreat. When my grades are not satisfactory, I can use “because I didn’t work hard” as a shield, and my “smartness” is protected. The studies that should have been taken seriously became victims of my psychological disputes at the time.

Although my mentality and behavior did not last for a long time, looking at life in general, in fact, people have been thinking about this question during the long journey of life: intelligence vs hard work, who is more trustworthy? This obsession originally originated from the human heart and practice, and psychology, whose mission is to understand human psychology, has naturally done scientific research and theoretical construction on this issue.

01. Ontology vs growth theory

Carol Dweck (1946-), professor of psychology at Stanford University, one of the world leaders in the field of learning motivation, put forward ontology and growth theory. The core argument of the former is: a certain ability or quality is innate, whether it is available or not, whether it is good or bad has been determined, and it will not or is difficult to change. The latter is: a certain ability or quality is malleable, can change continuously, and can also be improved or changed through hard work, also called “growth mindset”.

When the two arguments fall into the discussion of intelligence and effort, the conclusion is: people who hold ontology will regard intelligence as a product of heredity, like a ripe fruit that is difficult to change; People with growth theory believe that intelligence can be forged through long-term practice and thinking, and there is hope for change and progress.

It is worth mentioning that which kind of argument a person will hold has nothing to do with his own level of intelligence. Therefore, this is tantamount to a value choice. What factors lead to different choices? After choosing different concepts, what kind of different behavior patterns will it bring to people in specific activities? Maybe it can start from childhood.

02. An experiment

In 1998, Dweck and her team shocked the academic world by doing a long-term study of 400 fifth graders in 20 New York schools.

The experiment organized students to complete three rounds of problem-solving tasks. The first round was a very simple puzzle, and everyone did a good job. They were told their scores and divided into three groups to get three different responses. The first group received the intelligence praise “You must be very smart”; the second group received the hard work praise “You must have worked hard”; the third group received no feedback, as a reference.

After the feedback was complete, the students were asked: would they like to choose a task of similar difficulty as the first round, or a task that was more difficult but could learn something new? As a result, two-thirds of the students who were praised for their intelligence chose the task of the same difficulty, while more than 90% of the students who were praised for their effort chose another challenging task.

Then start the second round of answering questions. This time the subject was more difficult, and all the children performed worse. After completion, they were asked a series of questions: 1. Do you like doing these questions? 2. Would you like to take some questions home to do? 3. Why do you think you didn’t do well this time? The statistical results are as follows: 1. The children in the intelligence praise group disliked these puzzles the most. 2. The children in the intelligence praise group were the least willing to take these questions home. 3. The children in the intelligence praise group thought that their poor performance was due to their stupidity. 4. The children in the hard-praising group answered all the opposite.

The last third round is for the children to have the same easy topics as the first round. Surprising results emerged: The kids in the intelligence-praise group regressed, but the effort-praise group did better than they did in the first round. The reason for the regression is that in the previous round, the failure made the praise group change their self-view, and although the hard work group also failed, they were willing to work harder and become more courageous with frustration.

For the above experimental results, if we summarize from the essence, we will see: 1. The children who are praised for being smart are also the ones who tend to blame themselves for their incompetence when they fail. That is, when success is attributed to intelligence, failure is also attributed to stupidity. Success or failure is the absolute yardstick they use to evaluate themselves. 2. In order to prevent the previously built honor wall from being destroyed, the children who are praised for being smart will avoid new challenges as much as possible, and are only willing to circle around the successful experience and tasks of similar difficulty. 3. Children who are praised for being smart have a more fragile psychology, are less willing to believe in the power of hard work, and are less willing to explore. Smartness has become something that does not change and needs to be maintained.

Apparently, when a child grows up with “you’re so smart” intellectual praise, it’s easier to develop an “ontological” notion. When the holders of the “growth theory” think that they and everyone are just a sapling with the hope of growing into a big tree, it is easier for people with the “substance theory” to be framed in the cage they built.

These achievements have given birth to the new educational concept that we have heard about today. It suggests: When a child successfully completes one thing, such as building blocks, it is best for adults to use “descriptive” praise instead of intellectual praise-don’t directly say “you are so smart” to the child, but ask him “you are so smart”. Great, can you share how you did it just now?”

03. Hard work = anything can be done?

Efforts give us continuous upward strength, but does hard work mean that everything can be achieved?

Looking back at my childhood, I often heard a truth: As long as you work hard, you can achieve your goals. As it happens, reading is one of the fairest activities in the world, and it does, to a large extent, fulfill this statement. So, it became 100% truth in my mind.

When I grow up, I have more experience and knowledge, and I have been beaten by the society. This “old saying” has become more and more suspicious. Until I saw what Luo Xiang said later, I was enlightened: If you believe that hard work will pay off, you will easily fall into nihilism. When you succeed, you will think that it is all due to your own hard work, and you can’t see other complicated factors. Others’ failures can only be blamed for their lack of hard work; when you fail, you will blame others.

What reached a consensus with Luo Xiang’s words is the view advocated by today’s psychology on effort: the real meaning of effort is to believe that effort will bring about the power of change and growth, and it aims to convey all kinds of positive aspects of a person. The idea that all qualities can be developed leads to more tenacious behaviors, rather than extreme “effort determinism”.

I think the reason why I hate the “success study” now is because it conveys a taste of “effort determinism” – hide the complex and diverse environment, as long as you work hard, you can be yourself anything you want. Efforts are packaged and exaggerated and become a sufficient condition for achieving goals. This is the real “chicken blood” that needs to be vigilant.

As I write this, I suddenly remembered the book “Harvard Girl Liu Yiting”, which was popular in thousands of families when I was in elementary school. My parents also bought a copy. In the book, the author describes his daughter’s education since she was a baby. I can’t remember the specific details. The only thing I don’t forget is the various strict arrangements and training, which is outrageous. The most memorable scene is that in order to train her daughter’s perseverance, her mother asked her to hold ice cubes to see how long she could last.

After watching this passage back then, my dad also took out ice cubes from the refrigerator half-jokingly and half-seriously, and asked me to challenge it. I obeyed obediently and didn’t understand anything. Thinking about it now, it’s so weird and terrible-it wants a person to achieve the purpose of improving perseverance through suffering physical pain. When that book became popular, countless parents followed suit and taught each unique child as another Liu Yiting. In this picture, the childhood that was supposed to amuse cats and bugs was destroyed, why not make people sad?

Fortunately, the new horizons and discoveries of the human heart brought about by the explorations of one psychologist after another have impacted such barbaric slogans that violate the laws and potentials of personal growth.

At this point in writing, I once again deeply feel that what kind of concept to choose plays a vital role in a person’s life; what kind of water to use to water the seedlings in the child’s heart is not easy but has far-reaching significance. thinking and practice. In fact, it is not only a child, even if it has grown into an adult, it can still reflect on itself.

Intelligence vs hard work, who is more trustworthy? There is no question that believing in the power of hard work to bring about change and progress, and being willing to do it at your own pace, is far more important than believing in your own smarts. To put it bluntly, intelligence will gradually recede with age, but the spiritual light of hard work can last a lifetime.

Left Bank Notes: Someone specifically investigated several Nobel Prize winners. Their IQ level is similar to that of ordinary people, basically around 120-140. Their thinking reaction speed is not too different from that of ordinary people. It can be seen that the level of IQ is not the most critical factor that determines whether a person will succeed in the end. Of course, success requires intellectual guarantees. Generally, an IQ of around 120 is enough. 40% to 50% of the population can reach this level. Next, it is the stage of comparing personal self-control, self-control and effort. Most of the people with the highest IQ are unsuccessful, which may be in response to an old Chinese saying: cleverness is misunderstood by cleverness. The smartest brains are often lacking in effort and persistence. They love to play tricks, love to be self-righteous, have high-mindedness and low-handedness, and it is difficult to dig deep in a field for a long time. There is a well-known saying: With the current efforts of most of us, we are still far from reaching the point where we can compete with the masters in IQ! Of course, hard work cannot be blind. It is to believe in the changes and growth that will be brought about through hard work, so that you can become more tenacious and more down-to-earth.

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