Set #7 (Lectures 17, 18 & 19)
March 16 , 2010
There is an opportunity for auditory and visual research in lab about how identities
are represented in the brain. Check WebCT for this opportunity later. Do not
bother if you do not think that your transcript will be competitive or if you are
interested in other things.
CHAPTER TWELVE: INTELLIGENCE (& CREATIVITY)
Today we are on Chapter 12 and on Thursday we will do the last chapter. Then we will
move into readings from journals; please read these in advance, because its going to help
you (better understand the lecture material).
Perhaps no concept is central to psychology like the concept of intelligence. It started the
psychometrics in psychology, which is one of the key things that psychology does. We
actually measure peoples abilities on scales. Perhaps no concept has been as elusive as
intelligence; it is difficult to grasp and define. How would you define intelligence? There
are many kinds of intelligence, which is an operational definition. As an overall
definition (student responses):
It is a capacity to learn and ability to learn quickly.
It is an ability to make correlations between one subject and another, an ability to
integrate knowledge from different perspectives.
It is also an ability to recognize patterns and represent meaningful relationships,
and ability to integrate knowledge or concepts.
The ability to use multiple strategies to solve problems.
The ability to recognize relationships between concepts. These are all very important and part of the operational definition of intelligence. How
this research started is that a French psychologist, Alfred Binet was asked to develop an
assessment test for whether kids were doing well in school or not; this is how intelligence
testing started. The idea was to identify kids that could not do well in school, to help
them. That was the idea behind the development of intelligence testing. He worked with a
guy named Simon, and they defined intelligence as a faculty which is of utmost
importance to practical life and includes judgment, practical sense, initiative, and
adapting yourself to circumstances. They defined it as a process and it involves our
ability to think and reason and perceive patterns and concepts, but also includes our
ability to interact with our environment adaptively, to understand what it is and shape it.
We will see later on how theories of intelligence have incorporated these concepts.
In 1941, Journal of Educational Psychology asked 14 psychologists to define intelligence.
The responses varied, but involved two main themes:
Capacity to learn from experience, forming connections between concepts and
knowledge that are novel.
Ability to adapt to the environment.
65 years later in 1986, the journal asked 20 psychologists to define intelligence again.
Those two points were once underscored again: ability to learn from experience and
adapt to the environment. Many psychologists broadened the definitions to include
metacognition. Our own understanding of our own processing, how we think and solve
problems, as well as the role of culture. Through trying to standardize the Binet-Simon
test, people have found out that not all cultures perform the same in tests that were made
in France for example. The most famous case of this was of immigrants coming to the US that were given the Binet-Simon test. They all failed and were asked to go back. The
reason why they failed was because they did not understand English. This is a brutal
example that tells us that knowledge is represented differently in different cultures and
has to be taken into account when we measure intelligence.
Robert Steinbergs, who is the most contemporary researcher on intelligence today,
defines it as following:
Intelligence is a capacity to learn from experience using metacognitive processes to
enhance learning and the ability to adapt to the surrounding environment, which
may require different adaptations within different social and cultural contexts.
This is basically saying that we learn from past experience, but then you monitor what is
going on in our head, and based on that we can enhance our learning, correct ourselves if
we are on the wrong path for example: Intelligence is actually contextually and socially
mediated, he tells us.
Binet first developed this test to measure intelligence for a person of a given age. He
devised the test that basically asked for a general knowledge. The questions on the test
are as follows (see textbook Table 12.1). People were not given these; these are just an
example of what the questions would be about. What you get is some kind of a score on
this test. The reasoning was to estimate a persons mental age (MA), how old you are
mentally, versus their chronological age (CA), how old they are physically. Do you know
what most of your peers do, or do you know more or less? In 1912, it was suggested that
this ratio between mental and chronological age is used to calculate the IQ quotient or
IQ = MA/CA x 100.