Intelligence is a term that is often used, but not always clearly defined. What does it mean to be intelligent and how is intelligence measured? In this article, I will address these questions and take a closer look at the concept of intelligence.
What is intelligence?
Intelligence is an abstract concept that refers to the ability to solve problems, make inferences, and acquire knowledge. It also includes the ability to adapt to new situations and think creatively. There is no single definition of intelligence, but many scientists consider it to be a combination of innate factors and environmental factors.
Intelligence is not a trait like height or weight that has the same meaning for everyone in the world. People attribute this term to the qualities that enable success in their time and culture (Sternberg & Kaufman, 1998). Charles Spearman believed that we have only one general intelligence, which is at the heart of all our behavior. One of his first critics was L.L. Thorston (1887-1955). Thurstone conducted 56 different tests on people and identified seven groups of primary mental abilities. He didn't rank people on a single scale of general intelligence. But as others studied his theory, they found that those who excelled in one area also excelled in the others.
Raymond Cattell simplified Thurstone's abilities into two factors: fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence. Fluid intelligence refers to the ability to reason, solve problems, and think abstractly. It includes the ability to learn and adapt to new situations, problem solving, logical and creative thinking. Fluid intelligence tends to decline with age because it is heavily dependent on innate cognitive abilities and is less influenced by prior learning and experiences. Crystalized intelligence, on the other hand, refers to the accumulated knowledge and skills that a person has acquired through experience and education. It involves the ability to use language, knowledge of social norms, and cultural practices to solve problems and make decisions. Crystalized intelligence tends to increase with age as people gain more knowledge and experience.
Then came Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. This is a model proposed by psychologist Howard Gardner in 1983. The theory suggests that there are several different types of intelligence, present to varying degrees in different people. These intelligences are not necessarily interconnected, and individuals may have strengths in one or more areas. The eight intelligences identified by Gardner are: linguistic intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence, spatial intelligence, musical intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence, and naturalistic intelligence. Gardner's theory has been criticized for its lack of empirical evidence and the difficulty of measuring different types of intelligence. However, it has influenced educational practices by promoting a more holistic and individualized approach to teaching and learning.
Robert Sternberg (1985,2015,2017) agrees with Gardner but only suggests 3 intelligences: analytical, creative and practical.
The general idea is that different people have different gifts. Have you wondered what your gifts are?
How is intelligence measured?
There are several methods of measuring intelligence, but the most common is the intelligence quotient (IQ). The IQ test consists of a series of tasks designed to measure various abilities such as language comprehension, spatial perception, and reasoning. IQ is then measured by a score that is related to the average intelligence of an age group.
However, it is important to note that IQ is not the only method of measuring intelligence. There are other tests, such as the WAIS, which were developed specifically for academic purposes, as well as alternative methods such as Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligence Theory, which states that there are different types of intelligence that exist independently of each other.
What are the factors that influence intelligence?
Intelligence is influenced by many factors, including genetic predisposition, environmental factors, and education. There are also some studies that indicate that intelligence is correlated with other factors such as health and social status. Living conditions are very important. Adolescents growing up in a privileged home (space, quiet, proper lighting) have a more developed prefrontal cortex (Uy et al., 2019), proving once again that the world is not a fair place.
However, performance requires many skills: talent, a lot of practice, emotional intelligence (perceive, understand and use emotions) and one very important ingredient: grit! This is a personality trait that relates to a person's perseverance and passion for long-term goals coupled with the ability to strive and overcome challenges even in the face of adversity. It is the trait of having a sustained interest and commitment to achieve one's goals despite obstacles and setbacks.
Overall, intelligence is a complex concept that is influenced by many factors and is not easily defined. Measuring intelligence by IQ test is not perfect and there are alternative methods. However, it is clear that intelligence plays an important role in many aspects of our lives, from schooling to professional careers. By exploring this concept and expanding our understanding, we can make better decisions and develop our skills.Sources:
Psychology. 13th Edition. David Myers; C. Nathan DeWall