Chapter 10 - Intelligence: Measuring Mental Performance
- Piaget defined it as adaptive thinking or action.
Psychometric Views of Intelligence
- Psychometric approach: A theoretical perspective that portrays intelligence as a trait (or set
of traits) on which individuals differ; psychometric theorists are responsible for the
development of standardized intelligence tests.
- Mental age (MA): A measure of intellectual development that reflects the level of age-
graded problems a child is able to solve.
- Simon-Binnet Test: Large battery of tasks measuring skills that were presumed to be
necessary for classroom learning: attention, perception, memory, numerical reasoning, verbal
- One attribute or many?
o Perform large number of mental tasks and analyze performance using statistical procedure
o Factor analysis: A statistical procedure for identifying clusters of tests or test items (called
factors) that are highly correlated with one another and unrelated to other test items.
o Each factor represents a distinct mental ability
Early multicomponent theories of intelligence
- Charles Spearman found that a child’s scores across a variety of cognitive tests were
moderately correlated and thus inferred that their must be a general mental factor, g, that
affects one’s performance on most cognitive tasks. g: one’s ability to understand relations
(general mental ability)
- Intellectual performance is often inconsistent
- Intellectual performance has two aspects: g: general ability and s: special abilities, each of
which is measured by a particular test.
- Louis Thurstone found seven factors that he called primary mental abilities: spatial ability,
perceptual speed, numerical reasoning, verbal meaning, word fluency, memory and inductive
- These 7 distinct mental abilities really make the g.
Later multicomponent theories of intelligence
- J.P. Guilford classified cognitive tasks into three major dimensions:
o Content (what must the person think about?)
o Operations (what kind of thinking is the person asked to perform?)
o Products (what kind of answer is required)
- Argued that there is 5 kinds of intellectual contents, 6 kinds of mental operations and 6 kinds
of mental products
- Structure-of-intellect model: Guilford’s factor-analytic model of intelligence, which
proposes that there are 180 distinct mental abilities.
- Social intelligence test measures the ability that requires the test taker to act on a behavioral
content using a particular operation (cognitive), to produce a particular product.
- Raymond Cattell and John Horn propose that primary mental abilities can be reduced to two
major dimensions of intellect:
1 o Fluid intelligence refers to one’s ability to solve novel and abstract problems of the sort
that are not taught and are relatively free of cultural influences.
o Crystallized intelligence is the ability to solve problems that depend on knowledge
acquired as a result of schooling and other life experiences.
A more recent hierarchical model
- Hierarchical models of intelligence: Model of structure of intelligence in which a broad,
general ability factor is at the top of the hierarchy, with a number of specialized ability
factors nested underneath.
- Three-stratum theory of intelligence: g at the top of the hierarchy, eight broad abilities at
the second level, or stratum, and narrower domains of each second-stratum ability at the third
stratum. (Figure 9.3)
A Modern Information-Processing Viewpoint
- Criticism of psychometric models is that they are very narrow, focusing only on what the
child knows rather than on the processes by which this knowledge is acquired, retained and
used to solve problems.
- Robert Sternberg proposed triarchic theory of intelligence that emphasizes three aspects, or
components, of intelligent behavior: context, experience, and information-processing skills.
- What qualifies as “intelligent” behavior depends in large part on the context in which it is
displayed. Intelligent people are those who can successfully adapt to their environment or can
shape that environment to suit them better. (Street smarts)
- To measure how intelligent someone is you must take into consideration the context in which
are they are performing, their experience with the tasks (automatization) and their
information-processing skills that reflect how each person is approaching these tasks.
Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences
- Argued that intelligence is not made up of a single score.
- Theory of multiple intelligences: Proposes that humans display at least seven distinctive
kinds of intelligence. Since then he has added an eighth and has speculated about a ninth.
- Each ability is distinct, and is linked to a specific part of the brain and follows a different
developmental path. Therefore injury to a particular area of the brain usually influences only
- Individuals can be truly exceptional in one ability and poor in others.
- Savant syndrome mentally retarded people with a talent
How Is Intelligence Measured?
The Stanford-Binnet Intelligence Scale
- Modern descendant of the first intelligence test that measures general intelligence and four
factors: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, spatial reasoning, and short-term memory.
- Intelligence quotient (IQ): A numerical measure of a person’s performance on an
intelligence test relative to the performance of other examinees.
IQ = (Mental Age/Chronological Age) x 100
2 - IQ of 100 indicates average intelligence; means that a child’s mental age is exactly equal to
her chronological age.
- Higher than 100 means that she can be compared to people older than her and less than 100
means she matches the intelligence of younger children than her.
- Test norms: Standards of normal performance on psychometric instruments that are based
on the average scores and the range of scores obtained by a large, representative sample of
- Concept of mental age no longer used with IQ, instead individuals receive a deviation IQ
score, that reflect how well or poorly they do compared with others of the same age.
The Wechsler Scales
- Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-IV (WISC-IV) is appropriate for children aged 6
- He believed that earlier versions of the Stanford-Binet were overloaded with items that
require verbal skills. Heavy bias toward verbal intelligence discriminated against children
who have certain language handicaps (English - second language, or reading/hearing
- Wechsler’s scales contain verbal subsets as well as non-verbal (performance) subsets
o Ex. puzzles, mazes, geometric designs, arrange picture to form picture
Distribution of IQ scores
- Normally distributed symmetrical, bell-shaped curve
Newer approaches to intelligence testing
- Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC) is another recent test based on
modern information-processing theory.
- Non verbal fluid intelligence
- Dynamic assessment attempts to evaluate how well children actually learn new material
when an examiner provides them with competent instruction.
- IQ tests what has already been learned and not what can be learned.
Assessing infant intelligence
- Standard intelligence test can’t be used with children younger than 2½ because the test items
require verbal skills and attention spans that infants don’t have yet.
- Bayley Scales of Infant Development
- Designed for infants from 2 to 30 months and consists of 3 parts
o The motor scale (motor capabilities, grasping a cube, throwing a ball, drinking from a cup)
o The mental scale (adaptive behaviors, categorizing objects, searching for hidden toy,
o The Infant Behavioral Record (rating of the child’s behavior on dimensions such as goal
directedness, fearfulness, and social responsivity.
o Basis of first two scores, infant is given a DQ, developmental quotient instead of IQ
Do DQs predict later IQs?
- Good for diagnosing neurological disorders, mental retardation
- Fail to predict later IQ
3 - DQ early in infancy may not even p