Is Intelligence One General Ability or Several Specific Abilities?
Intelligence and Creativity
Is Intelligence Neurologically Measurable?
Do we have an inborn general mental capacity (intelligence)? If so, can we quantify this capacity
as a meaningful number?
What is Intelligence?
Intelligence (in all cultures) is the ability to learn from experience, solve problems, and
use our knowledge to adapt to new situations.
In research studies, intelligence is whatever the intelligence test measures. This tends to
be “school smarts.”
Intelligence: Ability or Abilities?
Have you ever thought that since people’s mental abilities are so diverse, it may not be justifiable
to label those abilities with only one word, intelligence?
The idea that general intelligence (g) exists comes from the work of Charles Spearman
(1863-1945) who helped develop the factor analysis approach in statistics.
Spearman proposed that general intelligence (g) is linked to many clusters that can be
analyzed by factor analysis.
For example, people who do well on vocabulary examinations do well on paragraph
comprehension examinations, a cluster that helps define verbal intelligence. Other factors
include a spatial ability factor, or a reasoning ability factor.
Contemporary Intelligence Theories
Howard Gardner (1983, 1999) supports the idea that intelligence comes in multiple forms.
Gardner notes that brain damage may diminish one type of ability but not others.
Gardner proposes eight types of intelligences and speculates about a ninth one — existential
intelligence. Existential intelligence is the ability to think about the question of life, death and
Sternberg (1985, 1999, 2003) also agrees with Gardner, but suggests three intelligences rather
1. Analytical Intelligence: Intelligence that is assessed by intelligence tests.
2. Creative Intelligence: Intelligence that makes us adapt to novel situations, generating
3. Practical Intelligence: Intelligence that is required for everyday tasks (e.g. street smarts).
Comparing Theories of Intelligence
Intelligence and Creativity
Creativity is the ability to produce ideas that are both novel and valuable. It correlates somewhat
1. Expertise: A well-developed knowledge base.
2. Imaginative Thinking: The ability to see things in novel ways.
3. A Venturesome Personality: A personality that seeks new experiences rather than
following the pack.
4. Intrinsic Motivation: A motivation to be creative from within.
5. A Creative Environment: A creative and supportive environment allows creativity to
The know-how involved in comprehending social situations and managing oneself successfully
Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, understand, and use emotions (Salovey and
others, 2005). The test of emotional intelligence measures overall emotional intelligence and its
Emotional Intelligence: Components
Perceive Emotion: recognize emotions in faces, music and stories
Understand Emotion: Predict emotions, how they change and blend
Manage Emotion: express emotions in different situations
Use Emotion: utilize emotions to adapt or be creative
Emotional Intelligence: Criticism
Gardner and others criticize the idea of emotional intelligence and question whether we stretch
this idea of intelligence too far when we apply it to our emotions.