- We can say that the experiences one is subjected to since infancy do have a role to play in developing preferences for certain tasks. Further, subjecting two people to similar experiences will not always evoke similar emotional or behavioral response.
- Also, the knowledge or experience retained from one particular event will vary from person to person. Everyone views the reality in his/her own way, reacts based on their own previous knowledge & experience, and finally retains only what one thinks fit.
- Thus, our past experiences shape how we view the present and develop an inclination how we will react in the future. For example, when a horrific crime like rape is committed, some blame the victim, others put responsibility on police or on family, society, etc.
- The event is the same but different people view it differently. Further, different people learn different lessons from the same event - someone might want to become part of the police force to improve law & order, someone else might be moved by the plight of the victim and may be willing to open a rehabilitation center, someone might want to campaign for broader women issues and someone else might want to simply restrict women's freedom.
- The broader point is - our experiences shape our thinking in unique ways and this subconscious thinking shapes our preferences, ultimately influencing (but not determining) how we will respond to an event in future.
➤ Definition and Explanation
- According to oxford dictionary, 'Aptitude' is the natural ability to do something, a natural tendency.
- 'Natural' here refers more towards the sum total of experiences that a person has had rather than simply meaning 'by-birth'.
- A person with an aptitude for boxing, if given necessary training, can develop the ability to a great extent.
- On the other hand, if a person has no aptitude for boxing, no amount of training can bring about any appreciable change in his performance.
- Aptitude is the combination of abilities and other characteristics, whether native or acquired, known to indicate an individual's ability to develop proficiency in certain particular areas. It refers to the capacity or ability to acquire skill or knowledge in a particular area, on basis of which future performances can be predicted.
- As per the Encyclopedia of Educational Research (1960), an aptitude may be defined as 'a person's capacity or hypothetical potential, for acquisition of a certain more or less well defined patterns or behavior involved in the performance of a task with respect to which the individual has had little or no previous training'.
- To put it simply, Aptitude is a group of characteristics deemed to be symptomatic of an individual's ability to acquire proficiency in a given area. It thus has a futuristic reference. Skill, on the other hand, is acquired through training. Aptitude is not skill. Skill is acquired and constantly upgraded through training and learning. Aptitude is what is there, but could be nurtured.
- As explained in the opening section, aptitude is neither completely innate nor completely acquired. It is an inborn endowment to some extent, but it is also a product of interaction between innate & environmental conditions. The endowment of aptitude varies from person to person. Everyone has some aptitude for a particular task; however, people simply differ in the degree to which they possess the particular task's aptitude.
- For example, many would like to become officers of the Armed Forces, but only a few get through. One, among many, factors is that their aptitude for service in the armed forces is adjudged lesser than others based on pre-determined set of qualities that the SSB (Service Selection Board) looks for in candidates. Aptitude is not merely a preference which someone shows. It is the possession of certain qualities that will help someone perform better in a task than others.
- To become an officer in defense or police services, you need to have physical and mental aptitude; for being a good sportsman, one needs aptitude for psycho-motor coordination. Problem arises when one is in a profession not suited by his/her aptitude.
- A person becoming a cricketer because his father was a great may not be able to deliver best results unless he himself has the aptitude required for the sport. Remember carefully - aptitude looks at the future potential. It, however, is the present condition - a pattern of traits which are there presently and are deemed to be indicative of potentialities.
➤ Types of Aptitude
- Aptitude is generally categorized as physical or mental.
- Physical aptitude means the physical characteristics for performing some task successfully. For example, armed forces require a specific set physical features, like height, strength etc.
- Mental aptitude means certain specific set of mental qualities needed to perform some tasks successfully. This is further characterized as general mental ability and value orientation. The former implies an ability to think rationally, while the latter also includes certain value based behavior, like the one guided by empathy, compassion, integrity, accountability, responsibility etc.This difference can be understood with some examples. For example, a banker should have the ability to deal in numbers, while an effective leader is one who is empathetic and honest. On the other hand, a thief probably needs to be a good liar.
➤ Aptitude for Civil Services
- Some experts believe that civil servants must have three kinds of aptitude: Intellectual, Emotional, and Moral. These aptitudes make the civil servant capable of acquiring professional values.
- Intellectual Aptitude would ensure that respective civil servant would think rationally, act purposely and deal effectively with his environment. Thus, it can be regarded as means oriented aptitude.
- Emotional Aptitude would ensure his effective conduct with colleagues, subordinate and public at large. Thus, it may be regarded as the behavior oriented aptitude.
- Moral Aptitude includes the desirable values, like justice, empathy, compassion etc. This is also called Foundational Values for Civil Services and would ensure that civil servants perform their duties efficiently and effectively, upholding public interest. Thus, it may be regarded as end-oriented aptitude.
Relationship of Aptitude with Other Qualities
➤ Aptitude and Interest
People have interests in many things, but this does not imply they have the aptitude for that. One may like cricket, but playing it on field is much different than watching it on television. One may have the aptitude for good commentary or writing skills and then one may choose a profession where his/her interests and aptitude match- such as becoming a commentator or a sports journalist.
➤ Aptitude & Ability
- Aptitude is often considered to represent specific subsets of mental ability which provides useful information on an individual's potential, particularly with regards to education and employment. Ability is much closer to intelligence.
- It is concerned with present. It is the combination of skills, habits, and powers that an individual now has, enabling him to do something. Aptitude indicates what an individual will be able to learn/do and ability presents evidence of what the individual is able to do now (or in future without additional training).
- From a practical standpoint, it is impossible to measure aptitude without the degree of training which an individual has already had. It is assumed that individuals have been exposed to certain experiences which enhance their aptitude when it is measured.
- For example, the CSAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test) exam, which is meant to test a candidate's aptitude for Civil Services, will invariably show better scores for candidates who have practiced rather than those who have not.
- It tests aptitude by subjecting the candidates to pressure situation (solving many questions in limited time), which they are likely to experience once they become Civil Servants. Moreover, a person who has practiced the tests demonstrates readiness and labour, which is again a trait desirable in a Civil Servant.
- It therefore, although intended to measure aptitude, also measures ability. Thus according to some psychologists, ability includes aptitude and achievement. Ability refers to what a person can do today. It is the power, at a given time, to perform.
➤ Aptitude and Intelligence
- Aptitude is innate potential to do certain task in future, provided appropriate training is provided to the person. Intelligence's key component is the ability to think rationally, act purposefully and deal effectively in one's present environment.
- Intelligence has a wider scope as in it refers to general mental ability. Aptitude on the other hand has narrow scope- it is specific to work.
- It breaks down intelligence into several characteristics, referring to a person's specific ability to do a task in the future. Thus, aptitude is not same as intelligence.
- Two people with the same intelligence quotation (IQ) may have different aptitudes e.g. one to become scientist and other novelists.
➤ Aptitude and Attitude
Aptitude is innate potential to do certain task in future, provided appropriate training is provided to the person. An attitude is a lasting, general evaluation of people (including oneself), objects or issues. It is a predisposition to behave in certain ways i.e. a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, object, person, or situation Attitude can be changed in certain ways, but aptitude can't be developed if is not there, because it is innate potential.
➤ Aptitude and Values
- Values are different from aptitude in that value denotes the degree of importance of some thing or action to determine what actions are best to do or what way is best to live.
- Though values may be "positive" or "negative", like empathy towards weaker section is positive while regarding one's own caste to be highest is negative.
- But generally, they are taken for positive and desirable values. Thus, they deal with right conduct and living a good life, in the sense that a highly, or at least relatively highly, valuable action may be regarded as ethically "good", and an action of low in value, or somewhat relatively low in value, may be regarded as "bad".
- Hence, values can be defined as broad preferences concerning appropriate courses of action or outcomes. As such, values reflect a person's sense of right and wrong or what "ought" to be. "Equal rights for all", "Excellence deserves admiration", and "People should be treated with respect and dignity" are representative of values.
- Values tend to influence attitudes and behavior. Types of values include ethical/moral values, doctrinal/ideological (religious, political) values, social values, and aesthetic values. In the next section we will discuss "Foundational Values for Civil Services."
➤ Aptitude, Proficiency & Achievement
Proficiency is the ability to perform an activity with ease and precision. Achievement looks at the past - what has been done, accomplished.