Even I, who sees everything as genetic (granting some space for incentives and for changes in brain chemistry) absolutely did not see this coming.
99% is a very big number, and executive functioning is a very big deal. The internal link "Executive functioning may predict success better than IQ" had a few things I raise a cautionary eyebrow about, but is basically sound. It's harder to measure, but I can well believe it is a better predictor.
Assistant Village Idiot: 99% is a very big number, and executive functioning is a very big deal.
As discussed here previously, the study remarks that IQ is only moderately heritable. The second article observes that IQ measures are often inconsistent. Apparently, intelligence has many attributes that no single test can capture.
As for executive function, the study notes a number of possible confounding environmental factors. It's possible that in other environments, executive function may not be as good a predictor of success.
If executive function were a guarantor of success in all environments for all individuals, then we would expect evolution to push nearly all humans to have a very high level of executive function. The bell curve would be relatively narrow.
There may be a tradeoff of executive function with other forms of intelligence. Brain functions are highly energy intensive, so high executive function may mean low function in some other aspect of the mind.
Humans evolved in tribes, meaning that different individuals may specialize in different aspects of intelligence: the leader (executive), the hunter (spatial), the blade-maker (detail), the herbalist (cataloguer), the troubadour (verbal), the shaman (spiritual). Or, if you prefer: Dopey, Doc, Bashful, Sneezy, Happy, Grumpy, and Sleepy. The group's intelligence can therefore be higher than it would be if everyone had the same executive attribute.
Assistant Village Idiot: Even I, who sees everything as genetic . . .
There's a type of selection called diversifying selection. Humans faces are subject to diversifying selection. What that means is that instead of human faces tending towards similarity or some optimal configuration, features tend to be exaggerated. Noses and lips and cheeks vary more than one might expect otherwise. Individuated faces are clearly important for human social groups.
Similarly with the different aspects of intelligence. There may be selective pressure to maintain diversity rather than conformity. That would explain why executive function, creativity, and other aspects of mind vary so widely.
The group's intelligence can therefore be higher than it would be if everyone had the same executive attribute.
'Group intelligence' aka 'wisdom of crowds' does not refer to functional specialization but to the fact that no single person nor even group of people can ever have perfect information about the state of a complex and dynamic system such as an economy, and as such all attempts at explicit direction of complex human systems will fail utterly.
Christopher B: 'Group intelligence' aka 'wisdom of crowds' does not refer to functional specialization
While 'wisdom of the crowds' generally refers to diversity of information in a group, we specifically referred to diversity of intellectual propensity.
If executive function can be trained or improved with diet, then it is not solely genetic.
I am not surprised at all. My autism hits executive functioning pretty hard, as does pretty much all mental illnesses. It overrides my normal IQ. I have trouble doing something and I hear, "You are so smart, you can't have trouble with that."
People really don't get that mental disabilities can happen to smart people. And that being intelligent doesn't make the disability go away!
Totally off topic: this contains an interesting sentence construction. "Even I, who sees..."
You would expect that the verb following the singular "I" would be "see," not "sees." Yet that just sounds wrong, and I don't think anyone would ever say it. Maybe some grammarian can explain why "sees" is actually correct.
Uncle Bill - you're right! It just sounds wrong. First guess: "sees" is for third person singular, and who fits that, not first-person I.
@ Anamaria - glad you are still dropping by. My association with your name is always Romania, as I knew a few Anamarias there.
@ Uncle Bill - in support of my theory, consider that speaking to God in the second person, we would still say "You who sees everything, (Or "Thou who sees all.") Who is the subject, modified by "I," "Thou," "Brian Wilson," or "Sparky the Fire Dog, who jumps for joy."
Uncle Bill: You would expect that the verb following the singular "I" would be "see," not "sees."
And you would be technically correct, as in “It is I who am sorry.”
"you who see everything we do?"
Not that everyone adheres to the rule in informal speech.
I'm glad to see more focus on executive function, hereditary or not. My weaknesses in this area are modest compared with some, but I must assume chronic procrastination and lack of concentration come under the rubric of poor executive function. I could do with better, even at this late date.
I do often think, with things that are highly heritable, that even if we cannot make them superior in ourselves (and our children, students, supervisees), we can at least stop making them worse, can start building in artificial solutions when we see that they will not spring forth naturally, can stop blaming and discouraging ourselves and others, and not penalise good behavior.
Very interesting. Would executive functioning include the ability to look at one's own thought processes, for example, to consider a decision you are about to make and ways in which it might be wrong?
David Foster: Would executive functioning include the ability to look at one's own thought processes, for example, to consider a decision you are about to make and ways in which it might be wrong?
Like general intelligence, executive function has more than one aspect. Executive function is usually broken down into inhibition, updating, and shifting. So, yes, the ability to analyze a proposed decision, consider new data, and change that decision is part of executive function.
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