Types of Intelligence


Today’s article follows on from the ‘Introduction to Intelligence‘ and goes further into the different types of intelligence; crystallised vs fluid. We’ll explore the information processing approach and lastly Carroll’s Three-Stratum model.


Crystallised: –

The ability to apply previously acquired knowledge to current problems, for example vocabulary tests or information tests. –Crystallised intelligence is based on the ability to retrieve previously learned information from long-term memory.


The ability to deal with novel problem-solving situations for which personal experience does not provide a solution. This involves inductive reasoning and creativity, which requires the abilities to reason abstractly, think logically, and manage information in working memory.

Fluid vs Crystallised: 

Fluid intelligence refers to mental processes rather than specific information which declines with age. Whereas crystallised refers to a persons knowledge base –that improves with age.



The information processing approach examines the processes that underlie intelligent behavior:

  • –Speed of processing: how rapidly a person can perform a mental task is a strong correlate of IQ scores
  • Knowledge base: persons with a strong knowledge base in an area are better able to perform a mental task
  • –Ability to apply mental processes: can a person acquire and use new mental strategies?



Is based on factor analysis of more than 460 data sets and establishes three levels of mental skills arranged in a hierarchical model:

  • –General: g factor
  • Broad: includes crystallized and fluid intelligence plus 6 other basic cognitive functions
  • Narrow: nearly 70 specific skills

Issues and Questions

Carroll’s hierarchal theory is essentially a compromise between general and distinct abilities view of intelligence.

Some critics still find it unsatisfactory because it ignored the research and theory on cognitive development.

Should we use the single word ‘intelligence’ to describe a variety of skills, such as calculus, speaking multiple languages, being able to get a ball in a goal.

If no, then we clearly have many unrelated kinds of intelligence –which changes the definition and meaning!

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