taking the dolls' perspective
May 10, 2015 5:35 AM   Subscribe

Improving Your Spatial IQ Can Lift Your Social IQ The finding: People with strong social skills are better at seeing other people’s perspectives—literally.

HBR interviews JHU's Amy Shelton.
"There may be an interesting correlation between the way people navigate the physical and interpersonal worlds."

Study here (behind paywall); also described in later paper, here.
posted by wonton endangerment (9 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
This is a very misleading headline. Shelton says: Because this is a correlation, this study can’t tell us which direction the relationship is going. But having good spatial skills very well might mean this.
posted by KGMoney at 6:37 AM on May 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

This sounds fascinating, thanks for sharing it!
posted by ipsative at 6:46 AM on May 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the title is a little bit of a stretch.
Data-point: I'm like 99th percentile in spatial skills, and like 50th in social.
posted by signal at 8:28 AM on May 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

I thought this was interesting:
Engineers do tend to have good spatial skills, but there are different kinds of spatial skills. The data set so far is small, but it appears that engineers tend to be very strong on object-based spatial skills: They’re good at mentally manipulating objects, what we call “mental rotation.” That’s not the same as being able to take someone’s perspective or, for that matter, the ability to navigate. There is a tendency to lump all spatial skills together. But over the past five years we’ve started to see that there’s a whole collection of distinct skills under that one term.
mainly because I don't tend to be great at mental rotation of objects, but taking someone's perspective seems very intuitive to me. I haven't had that tested in any way, so I could be overestimating my skills in it, but I notice in small-group meetings I tend to be one of the few people who shifts so that I'm not blocking someone else's view, for example. I'd be interested to read more about the different types of spatial skills.
posted by jaguar at 9:05 AM on May 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

It's interesting that they are taking a phrase, "take someone's perspective," and then projecting it out from the context of visual perspective to what appears to be someone's outlook on life. It's one thing to say that I can visualize how you might see objects in a space, but how does this predict how well I can understand how you might feel about those objects and that space. There are times when I feel that a lot of research is based on a very naive view of the world. In this case it sounds like a basic confusion over the multiple meanings of a word, perspective.
posted by njohnson23 at 9:13 AM on May 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

Think about situations where you encounter someone who enters a store and stops just inside while they decide which direction they're going to go, or who stops at the top of the subway escalator while they figure out if they need to turn right or left to get where they're going. People who do stuff like that drive me crazy.
posted by rtha at 9:17 AM on May 10, 2015 [15 favorites]

Anecdata--I've noticed that people who are good at arranging their physical environments are usually good at arranging other people, as well. Tables close to chairs, with room for a glass and a book, etc..
posted by Ideefixe at 10:06 AM on May 10, 2015

So, studying art and drawing, might be more useful than Sociology, for school aged children, at least.
posted by Oyéah at 10:52 AM on May 10, 2015

Sociology isn't really relevant to social IQ as such - it's more looking at group dynamics and society as a whole. Your joke means to reference psychology or whatever the equivalent of what my old secondary school called "personal and social education" instead, probably.
posted by Dysk at 2:59 AM on May 11, 2015

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