Apr 06 2014

RQ, IQ & EQ – redefining smartness

RQ IQ EQ Rationality cognitive biasFor many decades how “smart” you were was defined by how intelligent you were based on an IQ test. However many people have known that intelligence tests are very lacking in certain regards. Often people with extremely high IQs have poor social skills. So how smart can someone really be if they have issues interacting with humans? People with average or even low IQs often have a better grasp of basic social cues.

Dr.Stanovich has said we value the things in society we can measure. And since “algorithmic intelligence” or IQ can be measured relatively well it is something our society has valued. However there are two new disciplines or measures of “smartness” that are being developed to more comprehensively indicate the level of “smartness” a person has. And those are:

  • Rationality (RQ)
  • Emotional Intelligence (EI or EQ)

This in some sense is the classic difference between “book smarts” and “street smarts”. IQ is the “book smarts” where as RQ and EQ are colloquially known as “street smarts”.  Most people have a vague idea of what “street smarts” are but these new disciplines aim to create an objective definition & taxonomy of what actually constitutes RQ and EQ.

Broadly Rationality is defined with the following attributes

  • Being aware of cognitive biases in self and others
  • adopting appropriate goals
  • sensible goal prioritization
  • taking appropriate action given ones goals and beliefs
  • holding beliefs that are commensurate with available evidence; proper calibration of evidence
  • reflectivity

Dr.Stanovich coined the term “Dysrationalia” to define how someone thinks and behaves irrationally despite having adequate intelligence.

Rationality has recently become an area of interest since Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, two psychologists won the Nobel prize in Economics. Behavioral economics is a new discipline that has taken up the task of trying to understand rationality specifically how it pertains to making investment decisions.

According to Dan Goleman the predictor of career success correlated with IQ is about 4%.

Towards a new Taxonomy of smartness

Dr.Stanovich has taken the task to redefine what many of these words mean conceptually. People in society at large often use the terms “intelligent” and “rational” interchangeably as if they were synonymous. This can make things extremely confusing at first because for example someone who is good at making decisions is not considered intelligent rather they are considered rational.

The fact that most people equate those two concepts makes it that much harder to understand our own minds and how they work. This makes it more difficult to become aware of our own irrationality.

  • Intelligence measured as IQ defined as – the algorithmic mind
  • Rationality measured as RQ defined as – the reflective mind

Dual-process theory

  • Type 1 Processing – autonomous, fast, default, emotional knee jerk reaction, subconscious belief based, heuristic processing, learned motor movements through repetition, associative, energy efficient, parallel processing
  • Type 2 Processing – deliberate, conscious, slow, energy intensive, serial processing, language & rule based,

Crystallized & Fluid Intelligence

  • Crystallized – reflects declarative knowledge acquired from acculturated learning experiences
  • Fluid – reflect reasoning abilities operating across a variety of domains particularly novel ones

Rationality (RQ)

The interesting thing according to findings by Dr.Stanovich is that rationality has nearly a zero correlation with IQ! In fact people with high IQ are predictably irrational especially when it comes to cognitive biases. This is an incredibly startling finding.

Two types of rationality 

  1. Epistemic – having a proper set of foundational beliefs. Also known as cognitive biases. How well beliefs map onto the actual structure of the world. Probabilities of states of affairs in the world.
  2. Instrumental – Behaving in the world so that you get exactly what you most want, given the resources (physical & mental) available to you. Optimization of individual goal fulfillment. Choosing which option has the largest expected utility.

Meta-cognitive of personal biases and others. No correlation at all with intelligence.

  • Blind Side Bias
  • Lazy Cognitive adviser Affect Substitution
  • Overconfidence
  • Probabilistic rationality – begin able to accurately predict the probability of an outcome
  • Rationalization – an unconscious defense mechanism in which perceived controversial behaviors or feelings are logically justified and explained in a rational or logical manner in order to avoid any true explanation, and are made consciously tolerable – or even admirable and superior – by plausible means.
  • Cognitive dissonance –  When people become aware that their attitudes, thoughts, and beliefs (“cognitions”) are inconsistent with one another.
  • Cognitive Miser – aka. attribute substitution – the substitution of an easy-to-evaluate characteristic for a harder one even if the easier one is less accurate


The theory of motivated reasoning builds on a key insight of modern neuroscience(PDF): Reasoning is actually suffused with emotion (or what researchers often call “affect”). Not only are the two inseparable, but our positive or negative feelings about people, things, and ideas arise much more rapidly than our conscious thoughts, in a matter of milliseconds—fast enough to detect with an EEG device, but long before we’re aware of it. That shouldn’t be surprising: Evolution required us to react very quickly to stimuli in our environment. It’s a “basic human survival skill,” explains political scientist Arthur Lupia of the University of Michigan. We push threatening information away; we pull friendly information close. We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but to data itself.” (source)

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

  • Adaptive behavioral acts
  • efficient behavioral regulation
  • Ability to properly read social queues
  • Emapthy – the ability to compassionately understand how someone feels and thinks differently than you do


Links on Rationality:

Books on Rationality:

Books On EQ: