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Intelligence and Thinking
Theories of intelligence
There are three dominant approaches to the study of intelligence.
The differential approach – favours the development of tests that identify and
measure individual differences in people’s abilities to solve problems – particulary
those that use skills important in the classroom. For example, these tests ask people
to define words, explain proverbs, solve arithmetic problems, doscover similarities
in shapes and patterns and answer questions about a passage of prose.
The Developmental approach – studies the ways in which children learn to perceive,
manipulate and think about the world. The most influential proponent of this
approach was the swiss psychologist Jean Piaget.
The Information processing approach – focuses on the types of skills people use to
think and to solve various types of problems.
Theories of Intelligence
Spearmans’ Two – Factor Theory
The g factor, which is a general factor, and the s factor, which is a factor specific to
particular test. Spearman didn’t call his g factor “intelligence”; he considered the
term too vague.
He defined the g factor as comprising three “qualitative principles of cognition”:
apprehension of experience, education of relations, and education of correlates.
A common task on tests of intellectual abilities – solving analogies – requires all
Evidence from factor anaylsis
Louis Thursone Seven factors, which he labeled Verbal comprehension, verbal
fluency, number, spatial visualization, memory, reasoning, and perceptual speed.
Cattel performed just such a seond order factor analysis and found not one but two
major factors called these factors fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence.
Fluid intelligence is defined by relatively culture free tasks, such as those that
measure the patterns in a repeating series of items. Crystallized intelligence is
defined by tasks that require people to have and the kind of information learned in
Cattel regards fluid intelligence as closely related to a person’s native capacity for
intellectual performance; in other words, it represents a potential ability to learn
and solve problems. In contrast, he regards crystallized intelligence as what a
person has accomplished through the use of his or her fluid intelligence – what he or
she has learned. Horn differs with cattell; he cites evidence suggesting that both
factors are learned but also based to a degree on heredity. He says that gf is based
on casual learning and gc is based on cultural, school type learning.
An information processing theory of Intelligence
Sternberg has devised a triarchic theory of intelligence that derives from the
information processing approach used by many cognitive psychologists. According
to Sternberg, the degree of success that people achieve in life is strongly affected by
the extent to which they effectively analyze and manage their unique combinations
of strengths and weaknesses. The three parts of the theory deal with three aspects
of intelligence: analytic intelligence, creative intelligence, and practical
intelligence. Takes together these three aspects contribute to what Sternberg calls
Successful Intelligence: is the ability to Analyze one’s strength and weaknesses, Use
the strengths to greatest advantage, and Minimize the impact of weaknesses by
overcoming or compensating for them.
Analytic intelligence consists of the mental mechanisms people use to plan and
execute tasks. The components revealed by the factor analyses of verbal ability and
deductive reasoning that we just described are facets of analytic intelligence.
Analytic intelligence serve three functions. Meta- components(transcending
components) are the processes by which people decided the nature of an
intellectual problem, select a strategy for solving it, and allocate their resources.
Performance components are the processes actually used to perform the tasks –
for example, word recognition and working memory.
Knowledge acquisition components are those that the person uses to gain new
knowledge by sifting out relevant information and integrating it with what he or she
The second part of theory Creative intelligence is the ability to deal effectively
with novel situations and to solve familiar problems automatically. According to
theory, a person with high creative intelligence is able to deal more effectively with
novel situations than is a person with low creative intelligence. The person is better
able to analyze the situation and to bring mental resources to bear on the problem,
even if he or she has never encountered one like it before. After encountering a
particular type of problem serveral times, the person with good creative intelligence
is also able to “automate” the procedure so that similar problems can be solved
without much thought, freeing mental resources for more demanding work. A
person who has to reason out the solution to repetitive problems every time they
occur will be left behind by people who can give the answer quickly and
automatically. This is closely related to bewtween fluid and crystallized intelligence.