Introduction to Intelligence

intelligence

In this article we are going to explore the topic of intelligence in psychology. Defining what is intelligence, who the original theorists were and touching on a few different approaches.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER

What is intelligence?

  • –Is it singular or multiple
  • –One underlying ability or multiple (mutually exclusive) abilities combined

How to measure intelligence?

  • Objective and fair
  • Biases

Valid measurements (but of something else)

  • –Fixed or changeable?
WHAT IS INTELLIGENCE?

Intelligence is an inferred process that humans use to explain the different degrees of adaptive success in people’s behaviour. The mental abilities that enable one to adapt to, shape, or select one’s environment.

– The ability to:

  • –Judge, comprehend, and reason
  • Understand and deal with people, objects, and symbols
  • –Act purposefully, think rationally, and deal effectively with the environment
EARLY THEORIES

Spain

  • –  1575 Juan Huarte de San Juan
  • –  Attempt to link psychology to physiology
  • –  Linked to Galen’s 4 humors
  • –  One ‘talent’ linked to temperament and physique

France

  • Theodore Simon and Alfred Binet

UK

  • Francis Galton and Charles Spearman
GALTON AND ‘NATURAL ABILITY’
  • Genius was hereditary and intelligence linked to survival and natural selection
  • Social Darwinism combination of psychometrics, heredity and eugenics
  • By matching test scores of mating pairs could ‘improve’ the races
  • Believed that via controlled breeding of intelligence could produce a ‘master race’
THE PSYCHOMETRIC APPROACH

Psychometrics:

  • –The statistical study of psychological tests –Identifies and measures the abilities that underlie individual differences in performance

Factor Analysis:

  • A statistical technique that reduces a large number of measures to a smaller number of clusters, or factors
  • Each cluster contains variables that correlate highly with one another but less highly with variables in other clusters
THE ‘G’ FACTOR
  • Charles Spearman (1923) concluded that intellectual performance is determined partly by a general intelligence factor
  • –Also determined partly by whatever special abilities might be required to perform a particular task
  • ‘g’ constitutes the core of intelligence
  • Important predictor of both academic and job performance
THURSTONE’S (1938) PRIMARY MENTAL ABILITIES

Thurstone was unimpressed by the moderate correlations between different mental tasks. Proposed that human mental performance depends on seven distinct abilities

INTELLIGENCE

Read next: ‘Attention

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