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Ch. 9 Chapter 9 summary

Course Code
Eileen Wood

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Ch 9: Intelligence: Measuring mental performance
What is intelligence?
- Piaget defined intelligence as “adaptive thinking or action”
Psychometric views of intelligence
- Intelligence is an intellectual trait or a set of traits that differ among people
and so characterizes some people to a greater extent than others
- Goal: to indentify precisely what those traits might be and to measure them
so that intellectual differences among individual could be described
- Alred Binet’s singular component approach
oDevised a large battery of tasks measuring skills presumed to be
necessary for classroom learning: attention, perception, memory,
numerical reasoning, verbal comprehension
oItems that successfully discriminated normal children from those
described by teachers as dull or slow were kept in the final test
oThis age-grading of test items for ages 3-13 allowed a more precise
assessment of a child’s level of intellectual functioning
oMental age (MA): a measure of intellectual development that reflects
the level of age-graded problems a child is able to solve
oBinet and Simon had created a test that enabled them to identify slow
learners and to estimate all children’s levels of intellectual
- Factor analysis and the multicomponent view of intelligence
oIntelligence tests require people to perform a variety of tasks such as
defining words or concepts, extracting meaning from written passages,
answering general information questions, reproducing geometric
designs with blocks, and solving arithmetic puzzles
oOne way of determining whether intelligence is a single attribute or
many different attributes is to ask participants to perform a large
number of mental tasks and then analyze their performance using a
statistical procedure called factor analysis (a statistical procedure for
identifying clusters of tests or test items that are highly correlated with
one another and unrelated to other test items)
oEach factor presumably represents a distinct mental ability
- Early multicomponent theories of intelligence
oCharles Spearman found that a child’s scores across a variety of
cognitive tests were moderately correlated and thus inferred that there
must be a general mental factor, which he called g that affects one’s
performance on most cognitive tasks
oSpearman proposed that intellectual performance has two aspects: g
or general ability, and s, or special abilities, each of which is measured
by a particular test
oThurstone found seven factors that he called primary mental
abilities: spatial ability, perceptual speed, numerical reasoning,
verbal meaning, word fluency, memory and inductive reasoning
Concluded that these seven distinct mental abilities really make
up Spearman’s idea of g
- Later multicomponent theories of intelligence
oJ.P Guilford 180 basic mental abilities

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oHe arrived at this figure by first classifying cognitive tasks into three
major dimensions
Content- what must the person think about
Operations- what kind of thinking is the person asked to perform
Products- what kind of answer is required
oFive kinds of intellectual contents, six kinds of mental operations and
six kinds of intellectual products
oStructure-of-intellect model: Guilford’s factor-analytic model of
intelligence, which proposes that there are 180 distinct mental abilities
oTests have been constructed to assess more than 100 of the 180
mental abilities in Guilford’s model of intellect
oThe scores that people obtain on these presumably independent
intellectual factors are often correlated, suggesting that these abilities
are not nearly as independent as Guilford has assumed
oRaymond Cattell and John Horn have influenced current thinking about
intelligence by proposing that Spearman’s g and Thurstone’s primary
mental abilities can be reduced to two major dimensions of intellect
Fluid intelligence: the ability to perceive relationships and
solve relational problems of the type that are not taught and are
relatively free of cultural influences
E.g. verbal analogies and number series tests
Crystallized intelligence: the ability to understand relations
or solve problems that depend on knowledge acquire from
schooling and other cultural influences
E.g. tests of general information
- A more recent hierarchical model
oHierarchical models of intelligence models in which intelligence is
viewed as consisting of
General ability factor at the top of the hierarchy, which
influences one’s performance on many cognitive tests
A number of specialized ability factors that influence how well
one performs in particular intellectual domains
oThree-stratum theory of intelligence represents intelligence as a
pyramid, with a g at the top and eight broad intellectual abilities at the
second level
Implies that each of us may have particular intellectual
strengths or weaknesses depending on the patterns of “second-
stratum” intellectual abilities we display
Explains how a person of below-average general ability (g) might
actually excel in a narrow third-stratum domain if she displays
an unusually high second-stratum ability that fosters good
performance in that domain
Hierarchical models depict intelligence as both an overarching
general mental ability and a number of more specific abilities
that each pertain to a particular intellectual domain
A modern information-processing viewpoint
- Traditional intelligence tests do not measure other attributes that people
commonly think of as indications of intelligence, such as common sense,

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social and interpersonal skills and the talents that underlie creative
accomplishments in music, drama and athletics
- Robert Sternberg- triarchic theory of intelligence that emphasizes three
aspects, of intelligent behaviour
Intelligent people are those who are successfully adapt to their
environment or can shape that environment to suit them better
What is meant by intelligent behaviour may vary from one
culture or subculture to another, from one historical time to
another, and from one period of the life span to another
A person;s experience with a task helps to determine whether
that person’s performance qualifies as intelligent behaviour
Believes that relatively novel tasks require active and conscious
information processing and are the best measures of a person’s
reasoning abilities, as long as these tasks are not so foreign that
the person is unable to apply what he may know
Experiential intelligence reflects automatization, or increasing
efficiency of information processing with practice
According to Sternberg, it is a sign of intelligence when we
develop automatized routines or “programs of the mind” for
performing everyday tasks accurately and efficiently so that we
don’t have to waste must time thinking about how to accomplish
oInformation-processing skills
Sternberg’s major criticism of psychometric theorists is that they
estimate a test taker’s intelligence from the quality of her
answers, while completely ignoring how she produces intelligent
Focus on the componential aspects of intelligent behaviour, the
cognitive processes by which we size up the requirements of
problems formulate strategies to solve them, and then monitor
our cognitive activities until we’ve accomplished our goals
Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences
-Theory of multiple intelligences proposing that humans display at least
seven distinctive kids of intelligence. Added an eighth intelligences to the list
(table 9.1)
- Each ability is distinctly, is linked to a specific area of the brain, and follows a
different developmental course
- Injury to a particular area of the brain usually influences only on ability,
leaving others unaffected
- Some individuals are truly exceptional in one ability but poor in others
-Savant syndrome- mentally retarded people with an extraordinary talent
- Difference intelligences develop at different times
- Critics have argued that even though such talents as musical or athletic
prowess are important human characteristics, they are not the same kind of
mentalistic activities as those most people view as the core of intelligence
- Misrepresent and underestimate the talents of many individuals by trying to
characterize their “intelligence” with a single test score
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