Before listening to the tape, have a quick look at the following words.
Listen to the tape again and then answer the following questions.
1.What question did professor Simonton's research project seek to answer?
2.What three personality traits of great people are mentioned?
3.What negative trait of "great" people is mentioned?
4. Does professor Simonton believe that great people are more often mentally ill than other people?
Who Is Great?
As a young boy, Albert Einstein did so poorly in school that teachers thought he was slow. The young Napoleon Bonaparte was just one of hundreds of artillery lieutenants in the French Army. And the teenage George Washington, with little formal education, was being trained not as a soldier but as a land surveyor.
Despite their unspectacular beginnings, each would go on to carve a place for himself in history. What was it that enabled them to become great? Were they born with something special? Or did their greatness have more to do with timing, devotion and, perhaps, an uncompromising personality?
For decades, scientists have been asking such questions. And, in the past few years, they have found evidence to help explain why some people rise above, while others—similarly talented, perhaps—are left behind. Their findings could have implications for us all.
Who is great? Defining who is great depends on how one measures success. But there are some criteria. "Someone who has made a lasting contribution to human civilization is great," said Dean Keith Simonton, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis and author of the 1994 book Greatness: Who Makes History and Why. But he added a word of caution: "Sometimes great people don't make it into the history books. A lot of women achieved great things or were influential but went unrecognized."
In writing his book, Simonton combined historical knowledge about great figures with recent findings in genetics, psychiatry and the social sciences. The great figures he focused on include men and women who have won Nobel Prizes, led great nations or won wars, composed symphonies that have endured for centuries, or revolutionized science, philosophy, politics or the arts. Though he doesn't have a formula to define how or why certain people rise above (too many factors are involved), he has come up with a few common characteristics.
A "never surrender" attitude. If great achievers share anything, said Simonton, it is an unrelenting drive to succeed. "There's a tendency to think that they are endowed with something super-normal," he explained. "But what comes out of the research is that there are great people who have no amazing intellectual processes. It's a difference in degree. Greatness is built upon tremendous amounts of study, practice and devotion."
He cited Winston Churchill, Britain's prime minister during World War II, as an example of a risk-taker who would never give up. Thrust into office when his country's morale was at its lowest, Churchill rose brilliantly to lead the British people. In a speech following the Allied evacuation at Dunkirk in 1940, he inspired the nation when he said, "We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end...We shall never surrender."
Can you be born great? In looking at Churchill's role in history—as well as the roles of other political and military leaders—Simonton discovered a striking pattern: "Firstborns and only children tend to make good leaders in time of crisis: They're used to taking charge. But middle-borns are better as peacetime leaders: They listen to different interest groups better and make the necessary compromises. Churchill, an only child, was typical. He was great in a crisis, but in peacetime he was not effective—not even popular."
Timing is another factor. "If you took George Washington and put him in the 20th century he would go nowhere as a politician," Simonton declared. "He was not an effective public speaker, and he didn't like shaking hands with the public. On the other hand, I'm not sure Franklin Roosevelt would have done well in Washington's time. He wouldn't have had the radio to do his fireside chats."
Can you be too smart? One surprise among Simonton's findings is that many political and military leaders have been bright but not overly so. Beyond a certain point, he explained, other factors, like the ability to communicate effectively, become more important than innate intelligence as measured by an IQ test. The most intelligent U.S. Presidents, for example—Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson and John F. Kennedy—had a hard time getting elected, Simonton said, while others with IQs closer to the average (such as Warren G. Harding) won by landslides. While political and economic factors also are involved, having a genius IQ is not necessary to be a great leader.
In the sciences, those with "genius level" IQs do have a better chance at achieving recognition, added Simonton. Yet evidence also indicates that overcoming traditional ways of thinking may be just as important.
He pointed to one recent study where college students were given a set of data and were asked to see if they could come up with a mathematical relation. Almost a third did. What they did not know was that they had just solved one of the most famous scientific equations in history: the Third Law of Planetary Motion, an equation that Johannes Kepler came up with in 1618.
Kepler's genius, Simonton said, was not so much in solving a mathematical challenge. It was in thinking about the numbers in a unique way—applying his mathematical knowledge to his observations of planetary motion. It was his boldness that set him apart.
Love your work. As a child, Einstein became fascinated with the way magnets are drawn to metal. "He couldn't stop thinking about this stuff," Simonton pointed out. "He became obsessed with problems in physics by the time he was 16, and he never stopped working on them. It's not surprising that he made major contributions by the time he was 26."
"For most of us, it's not that we don't have the ability," Simonton added, "it's that we don't devote the time. You have to put in the effort and put up with all the frustrations and obstacles."
Like other creative geniuses, Einstein was not motivated by a desire for fame, said Simonton. Instead, his obsession with his work was what set him apart.
Where such drive comes from remains a mystery. But it is found in nearly all creative geniuses—whether or not their genius is acknowledged by contemporaries.
"Emily Dickinson was not recognized for her poetry until after her death," said Simonton. "But she was not writing for fame. The same can be said of James Joyce, who didn't spend a lot of time worrying about how many people would read Finnegans Wake."
Today, researchers have evidence that an intrinsic passion for one's work is a key to rising above. In a 1985 study at Brandeis University conducted by Teresa Amabile, now a professor of business administration at Harvard University, a group of professional writers—none famous—were asked to write a short poem. Each writer was then randomly placed in one of three groups: One group was asked to keep in mind the idea of writing for money; another was told to think about writing just for pleasure; and a third group was given no instruction at all.
The poems then were submitted anonymously to a panel of professional writers for evaluation. The poetry written by people who thought about writing for money ranked lowest. Those who thought about writing just for pleasure did the best. "Motivation that comes from enjoying the work makes a significant difference, "Amabile said.
(1 214 words)
n. heavy guns, often mounted on wheels, used in fighting on land, branch of an army that uses these 火炮；大炮；炮兵（部队）
n. a person whose job is to examine and record the area and features of a piece of land by measuring and calculating （土地）测量员；勘测员
a. ordinary; not exciting or special 不引人注意的；不惊人的
a. (attracting attention because) impressive or extraordinary 引人注目的；出色的；与众不同的
vt. 1. form (sth.) by cutting away material from wood or stone 雕刻；雕刻成
2. build (one's career, reputation, etc.)by hard work 靠勤奋创（业），靠勤奋树（名声）
a. not ready to make any compromise; firm or unyielding. 不妥协的，坚定的；不让步的
a. having a lot of influence on sb./sth. 有影响的；有权势的
n. the scientific study of the ways in which different characteristics are passed from each generation of living things to the next 遗传学
n. the study and treatment of mental illness 精神病学；精神病治疗
vt. write (music, opera, poetry, etc.) 创作（音乐、歌剧、诗等）
n. a long complex musical composition for a large orchestra, usu. in three or four parts 交响乐
n. a typical feature or quality 特点
a. not becoming less strong or severe; continuous 不松懈的，不放慢的；持续的
vt. provide (sb./sth.) with a good quality, ability, feature, etc. 给予，赋予
a. extremely good; esp. in a surprising and unexpected way 惊人的，令人吃惊的
vt. mention (sb./sth.) as an example or to support an argument; refer to 引用，引证；举出
n. a person who dares to take risks 敢于冒险的人
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