Risk intelligence and negative capability

The term risk intelligence or RQ has only emerged in recent years. Although the phrase is new, however, the concept is prefigured in Keats’ idea of negative capability – how much mystery uncertainty or doubt a person can handle without getting an irritable reaction.

From a psychoanalytic perspective, these irritable reactions are the unleashed by the unconscious to protect the ego from emotional shock when it is too weak to deal with reality. Like anger, which blows out the light in the mind, these tremors also disrupt the flow of light in the mind.

This alternative reality presented by the ego then distorts the person’s ability to assess the extent of their knowledge and therefore to estimate probabilities.

It could be argued that selflessness or egolessness all else being equal should improve a persons risk intelligence. However, this is rather simplistic and misses the positive elements of high risk intelligence such as determination – not taking setbacks personally, but seeing how they can be overcome to reach the goal. 

Risk intelligence is not just about avoiding the negatives; it’s also about embracing the positives.  Risk intelligence is the new and natural arena for the bringing together and merging of numerous concepts. By drawing on both contemporary and historical approaches, we may not only to better understand astute risk takers, but will also become more astute risk takers ourselves.