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Social Intelligence and the Frontal Lobes

Neuroscience has discovered that our brain’s very design makes it sociable, inexorably drawn into an intimate brain-to-brain linkup whenever we engage with another person. That neural bridge lets us impact the brain—and so the body—of everyone we interact with, just as they do us.

You can read more from the prologue of Daniel Goleman’s new book Social Intelligence. A review on Amazon.com reads:

… Our reactions to others, and theirs to us, have a far-reaching biological impact, sending out cascades of hormones that regulate everything from our hearts to our immune systems, making good relationships act like vitamins—and bad relationships like poisons. We can “catch” other people’s emotions the way we catch a cold, and the consequences of isolation or relentless social stress can be life-shortening. Goleman explains the surprising accuracy of first impressions, the basis of charisma and emotional power, the complexity of sexual attraction, and how we detect lies. He describes the “dark side” of social intelligence, from narcissism to Machiavellianism and psychopathy. He also reveals our astonishing capacity for “mindsight,” as well as the tragedy of those, like autistic children, whose mindsight is impaired.

Social intelligence is one of the eight multiple intelligences proposed by Howard Gardner. It involves the interpersonal skills involved in creating and maintaining social relationships with other people. In highly interconnected, complex societies, these skills become quite important for survival and success.

Social and executive level skills like personality, motivation, the ability to plan and follow a process with several steps, the ability to organize actions over time, social graces, and the ability to behave appropriately for the social situation reside in the frontal lobes of your brain – the last part of the human brain to evolve, and the part of the brain that makes humans so uniquely human. Damage to the frontotemporal area can cause these social skills to suffer, even if other aptitudes improve with diminished high level control.

Other links:
Take a survey from MITA to help determine clues to your strongest intelligences
Ned Herrmann’s Whole Brain Model for thinking
Edward de Bono’s thinking strategies
Exercise your frontal lobe
Another classic brain puzzle
Learning and teaching strategies for different intelligences

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9 Responses

  1. Cameron says:

    I’m overwhelmed with all the theories.

  2. Caroline says:

    Thanks for visiting Cameron. Essentially, social or interpersonal intelligence is the type of intelligence that helps you interact effectively with other people. These higher order abilities are generally overseen by the frontal lobes.

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