The Concept of Intelligence in Cross-cultural Perspectives
 One of the positive outcomes from so much research on the relationship between culture and intelligence is an expanded view of what intelligence may be, and how it may be conceptually related to culture. This issue is intricately intertwined with cross-cultural research on intelligence because one of the possible confounding factors in previous studies that documented cultural differences has been cultural differences in the very concept and meaning of intelligence.
 Researchers in this area have discovered that many languages have no word that corresponds to our idea of intelligence. The closest Mandarin equivalent, for instance, is a Chinese character that means “good brain and talented”. Chinese people often associate this concept with traits such as imitation, effort, and social responsibility. Such traits do not constitute important elements of the concept of intelligence for most Americans.
 African cultures provide a number of examples. The Baganda of East Africa use the word obugezi to refer to a combination of mental and social skills that make a person steady, cautious, and friendly. The Djerma-Songhai in West Africa use the term akkal, which has an even broader meaning – a combination of intelligence, know-how, and social skills. Still another society, the Baoule, uses the term n’glouele, which describes children who are not only mentally alert but also willing to volunteer their services without being asked.
 Because of the enormous differences in the ways cultures define intelligence, it is difficult to make valid comparisons from one society to another. That is, different cultures value different traits (their definition of “intelligence”) and have divergent views concerning which traits are useful in predicting future important behaviors (also culturally defined). People in different cultures not only disagree about what constitutes intelligence but also about the proper way to demonstrate those abilities. In mainstream North American society, individuals are typically rewarded for displaying knowledge and skills. This same behavior may be considered improper, arrogant, or rude in societies that stress personal relationships, cooperation, and modesty.
 These differences are important to cross-cultural studies of intelligence because successful performance on a task of intelligence may require behavior that is considered immodest and arrogant in Culture A (and therefore only reluctantly displayed by members of Culture A)but desirable in Culture B (and therefore readily displayed by members of Culture B). Clearly, such different attitudes toward the same behavior could lead researchers to draw inaccurate conclusions about differences in intelligence between Culture A and Culture B.
 Another reason it is difficult to compare intelligence cross-culturally is that tests of intelligence often rely on knowledge that is specific to a particular culture; investigators based in that culture may not even know what to test for in a different culture. For example, one U.S. intelligence test contains the following question: “How does a violin resemble a piano?” Clearly, this question assumes prior knowledge about violins and pianos – quite a reasonable expectation for middle-class Americans, but not for people from cultures that use different musical instruments.
 Our expanding knowledge about cultural differences in the concept of intelligence has had important ramifications for our theoretical understanding of intelligence in mainstream American psychology as well. Although traditional thinking and reasoning abilities have dominated views of intelligence in the past, in recent years psychologists have begun to turn their attention to other possible aspects of intelligence. Until very recently, for example, creativity was not considered a part of intelligence; now, however, psychologists are increasingly considering this important human ability as a type of intelligence. Other aspects of intelligence are also coming to the forefront. A psychologist has suggested that there are really seven different types of intelligence: logical mathematical, linguistic, musical, spatial, bodily kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. According to this scheme, not only do the core components of each of these seven types of intelligence differ, but so do some sample end-states (such as mathematician versus dancer). His theory of multiple intelligences has broadened our understanding of intelligence to include other areas besides “book smarts”.
 Perhaps the field is coming to realize that intelligence in its broadest sense may be more aptly defined as “the skills and abilities necessary to effectively accomplish cultural goals”. If your culture’s goals, for example, involve successfully pursuing a professional occupation with a good salary in order to support yourself and your family, that culture will foster a view of intelligence that incorporates cognitive and emotional skills and abilities that allow for pursuing such an occupation. Those skills and abilities may include deductive reasoning, logical thought, verbal and mathematical skills – the sorts of skills that are fostered in contemporary American culture. If your culture’s goals, however, focus more on the development and maintenance of successful interpersonal relationships, working with nature, or hunting and gathering, intelligence will more aptly be viewed as the skills and abilities related to such activities.
 On one level, therefore, people of all cultures share a similar view of intelligence – a catchall concept that summarizes the skills and abilities necessary to live effectively in one’s culture. At the same time, however, cultural differences naturally exist because of differences in how cultures define goals and skills and abilities needed to achieve those goals. Future research will need to delve into these dual processes, searching for commonalities as well as differences across cultures and exploring what contextual variables affect intelligence-related behaviors, and why.
 Awareness of cultural differences in intelligence raises difficult questions concerning testing and the use of test scores. Should bias in testing be eliminated at the expense of the predictive validity of the test? Many educational institutions and business organizations today face this difficult question, which is compounded by legal ramifications and the constant threat of litigation. Perhaps we need to give consideration to yet another aspect of intelligence – that is, our attitudes regarding intelligence. A cross-cultural understanding of differences in the definitions and processes of intelligence should help to deepen our appreciation and respect for cultures different from our own, and help us to find similarities as well as differences among people.