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Perception of intelligence among different communities varies to a great deal depending on the socio-economic and political factors. The Kpelle people of Liberia had a different perception of intelligence from the Zulus of South Africa. The best way of measuring intelligence in such unique communities is to base the measurements on the local parameters.
Perception of intelligence varies from one community to the other across the world. While one community may value consultation when making decisions, others cherish creativity or even the ability to process information very fast. The parameters used to measure intelligence in one community may be very different from the parameters used in another community.
In this assignment, the researcher seeks to compare how the Zulu people of South Africa and Kpelle people of Liberia perceive intelligence. The researcher will look at their perception towards issues such as domestic violence, initiations, and marriages.
According to Matsumoto (2001), different African communities perceived intelligence differently. This scholar says that the Zulu people of South Africa valued communal work very much. They considered intelligence to be the ability to consult the elders whenever one is making a critical decision.
The elders were the think tanks for this society because of their knowledge gathered from years of experience. This community still cherishes the need to consult the elders when making decisions even in the face of the current Westernization in this country. On the other hand, the Kpelle people of Liberia valued creativity in decision-making. Even though they also cherished the relevance to consult, their environment posed many challenges that needed creative ideas.
Members of the society who were able to come up with creative ideas on how to solve the problems of the society were held in high regards. When their creative ideas helped in solving some of the environmental problems, the society members would consider them heroes.
It may not be easy to use a universal test to measure the intelligence between these two communities. As Valsiner (2012) notes, each of these cultural groups defined their measure of intelligence based on the environmental factors. For instance, the Kpelle people of Liberia had different environmental factors from the Zulu people of South Africa.
When using cognitive abilities such as memory, organization, and visualization, the two communities compare very closely. These cognitive factors were particularly important in defense. They had to remember the militaristic of their enemies based on the experiences and organize themselves when it was evident that the community was under attack, and visualize some of the best strategies that can be used to counter the enemy.
As Langley (2012) notes, such strategic approaches to solving problems were not restricted to addressing the threat of an attack. They were also important when addressing other social problems. One of the cultural practices that were common among the people of Kpelle is the marriage ceremony. In such important stages of life, the society considered intelligence to be the manner in which the couple engaged their elders in their wedding preparations.
Although a young man was allowed to look for a life partner of his choice, he would be considered an intelligent young man if he involved his parents and elder members of his community in investigating the background of the preferred bride. This is very different from what was traditionally practiced among the Zulu people of South Africa. Among the Zulu people, the parents arranged marriages.
Intelligence in this case would be the ability to accept the choices made by the elders because it was believed that they could see far into the future (Matsumoto & Juang, 2012). Another area that is worth analyzing is the issue of domestic violence within these two African communities. Among the Zulus of South Africa, men were regarded as the absolute authority in their families.
Wife battering was something normal as long as it was not tragic. Such incidents were not considered domestic violence. Every man had the liberty of choosing how to solve his family problems. On the other hand, the Kpelle of Liberia valued the position of women in the society. Although men were superior to women, wife battering or any form of violence was considered a point of weakness on the side of the man perpetrating the violence (Kitayama & Cohen, 2007).
When measuring intelligence between these two different communities, it will be important to avoid using universal approaches such as those proposed in the formal education. It will be necessary to base the measurement on the community’s parameters. One should understand why a given community cherished a specific pattern of behavior and not the other. It is through this approach that it will be possible to understand their perception towards intelligence (Smith, 2008).
Different communities perceived intelligence differently based on their socio-cultural, economic, and political factors. The analysis done above on the two different African communities shows that what one community may consider as an act of intelligence may be considered an act of folly in another community.
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When measuring intelligence in each of these cultures, it may be necessary to base the measurement on their own context and perception towards life.
Kitayama, S., & Cohen, D. (2007). Handbook of cultural psychology. New York: Guilford Press.
Langley, T. (2012). Batman and psychology: A dark and stormy knight. Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley & Sons.
Matsumoto, D. (2001). The Handbook of Culture and Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.
Matsumoto, D. R., & Juang, L. P. (2012). Culture and psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Smith, M. K. (2008). Howard Gardner and multiple intelligences. Retrieved from http://infed.org/mobi/howard-gardner-multiple-intelligences-and-education/
Valsiner, J. (2012). The Oxford handbook of culture and psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.