With your permission I will begin. Today I would like to talk to you about intelligence. During my presentation we will talk about the basic definition of intelligence. We will take a quick glance at old and contemporary intelligence theories and compare the two. Then some intelligence test will be discussed and we will learn the difference between a bad and a good intelligence test. Lets begin.
A compliment which will be appreciated all around the world is “you are smart”. The opposite is true for calling someone stupid. A positive characteristic of a person is incomplete without the mention of his or her intelligence.
Intelligence is a person’s general intellectual ability. So the results of intelligent tests show general mental ability.
“People with no training in psychology generally think of intelligence as a mix of practical problem-solving ability, verbal ability and social competence” (Intelligence and Mental Ability). But lets take a look at a professional sourse: the Merrian-Webster dictionary. It states that intelligence is “the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situation” (Merriam-Webster). It seems that there is not much difference. But the sad truth is that nothing is that simple. There must be more to this term. Lets take a look.
According to Carol Bainbridge intelligence “consists of a number of specific abilities, which include these specific abilities:
Adaptability to a new environment or to changes in the current environment
Capacity for knowledge and the ability to acquire it
Capacity for reason and abstract thought
Ability to comprehend relationships
Ability to evaluate and judge
Capacity for original and productive thought”(Carol Bainbridge)
Don’t you think every person should possess such abilities? This must be the reason everyone want to be smart. Imagine just what kind of great decisions you can make if you acquire all of these skills.
There are three psychologists that have contributed the most to defining intelligence early on: Spearman, Thurstone, Cattell.
Spearman believed that intelligence is a mental energy that everyone possesses. It helps people be good at many things. An intelligent person things quickly and can make the right decisions in the nick of time.
Thurstone believed that intelligence consists of seven distinct mental abilities: quick perception, mathematical ability, spatial understanding, good memory, ability to put thoughts into words, reasoning. He disagreed with Spearman.
Cattell, unlike Thurstone, talked about two groups of mental abilities: crystallized intelligence (which include such abilities as reasoning, verbal, numerical skill – abilities focused on in school) and fluid intelligence (which includes such abilities as spatial, visual ability and memory).
The contemporary theories were developed by Sternberg, Gardner and Goleman.
Sternberg with his Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory argues that intelligence consists of a broad variety of skills which influence our effectiveness in everyday and professional life. He states that there are three kinds of intelligence: analytical (which talks about the mental process – ability to learn), creative (ability to adjust to new conditions), and practical (ability to find solutions to practical problems).
Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence works along the lines of Sternberg’s theory. Gardener and his associates at Harvard agree that intelligence comprises of different abilities, however, they are hard to determine. Nevertheless they distinguish eight abilities: “logical, mathematical, linguistic, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic.” (Gardner)
Goleman introduced the theory of emotional intelligence. Before, scientists were puzzled why those with a low IQ succeeded in life. Goleman explained this by their high level of emotional intelligence which can be best explained by the picture on the top. You can see just how much of the iceberg is hidden. That part is our emotional intelligence. It remains hidden even from us. It is considered that five traits are contributed to one’s emotional intelligence:
“1. Knowing one’s own emotions
2. Managing one’s emotions
3. Using emotions to motivate yourself
4. Recognizing the emotions of others
5. Managing relationships” (Chapter 8. Psychology)
When comparing the before mentioned theories we must note that Spearman’s was the simplest as he just looked at mental ability. Thurstone and Cattell took a closer look at the structure of intelligence and talked about its components. Sternberg and Gardner had the most influential theories although they did differ and Goleman introduced the new dimension – emotional intelligence. We can say that each and every one of these scientists contributed to today’s understanding of the term intelligence.
But how does one measure intelligence? With the help of intelligence tests. Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon are the men responsible for the first intelligence test. Their test consisted of a number of questions. By 1905 the Binet-Simon scale came into existence and consisted of 30 tests of increasing difficulty. When enough kids had taken these scales, it became possible to introduce the mental age of a child. The Binet-Simon scale has been revised a number of time throughout the years, however it is still used today.
The Wechsler intelligence test is the most commonly used test for adults. It was developed originally in 1939 by David Wechsler and has also been revised a throughout the years. The current version of the test is called WAIS-III. It is divided into two parts. One part looks at verbal skills and the other – at performance skills.
The test mentioned above are individual test. They are very time consuming and costly. Another way to do the experiments is group test. One of their main advantages is that they eliminate bias. They are help with a group of people who answer questions together.
On the graph below you can see the approximate distribution of IQ test results.
But what makes a good intelligence tests? How do they decide? Tests are approved according to their reliability and validity. When talking about reliability, scientists mean how much one can rely on the results of a test. Validity on the other hand measures what was supposed to be measure. This is a lot harder that it seems. Not only is it hard to determine what needs to be measured but to find a way to measure it is even harder, especially in such a science as psychology.
If any of you have questions I would be more than glad to answer them if I can. Thank you for your attention.
Carol Bainbridge. Intelligence. Retrieved from http://giftedkids.about.com/od/glossary/g/intelligence.htm
Merrian-Webster. Definition of Intelligence. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/intelligence
Psychology. Chapter 8. Intelligence and Mental Ability