Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Comprehention and interpretation

Communication has always been an important part of human interaction. However, each concept can be worded in multiple ways; while each string of words can also be interpreted in several different ways. During this communication process between two individuals, the message can thus morph in unintended ways on each side, be it worded wrong or interpreted wrong.

Sometimes a complex concept is familiar to the message initiator, and thus he/she expresses it in a rather simple way. The message receiver, however, might be completely unfamiliar to this concept, and thus unable to decipher the full meaning of the message.

People might assume that the person seems stupid in being unable to comprehend the message. Enter the concept of intelligence. I think it is reasonable to define human intelligence as the ability to make links between concepts. Thus, a person who is generally perceived as "smart" would, for example, upon seeing a new form of tool, make a link of this new input with something pulled out of memory, and thus come up with a new idea of how to use this tool. Or, upon facing a problem, the person would be able to make a link with a solution pulled out of memory, and apply the solution. Coming back to message interpretation, understanding a message requires the ability to link this message to pre-existing concepts in the interpreter's memory. In the case of mis-communication of unfamiliar concepts, if the interpretor is not familiar with the concept that the message initiator is trying to express, then the interpretor has nothing in memory to link this concept to, no matter how smart he/she seems.

In conclusion, life experiences and prior reading that are stored in memory is crucial to expanding the pool of "linkage candidates" upon exposure to new concepts. And thus, our ability to comprehend and interpret is proportional to the amount and range of our previous-storied memories. Meanwhile, assumptions of messages "going through" when it was interpreted in a different way, seems to be an important component of everyday conflicts.

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