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Perspectives on Intelligence

intelligence, IQ, EQ, emotional intelligence, emotional quotient, factor analysis, tests, factor analysis, statistics

Theories of Intelligence
Factor-analysis (Psychometric) models
Two-factor Theory – Spearman
Bi-Factor Theory - Holzinger & Spearman
Multiple factor Theory - Thurstone (aka Group Factor Theory)
Multi-factor Theory - Thorndike
Sampling Theory - Thompson
Theory of Bonds - Thomson
Structure of Intellect - Guilford
Hierarchical Models
5-level - Burt
4-level - Vernon

Alternative Models
Triarchic Theory - Sternberg
Multiple Intelligences - Gardner
Fluid and Crystallised - Horn and Cattell
Intelligence A and B - Hebb
Three strata Theory - Carroll
Information Processing Approach
Clark-Chase Theory
Shepard theory
Simon-Kotovsky theory
Measuring Intelligence
The concept of Mental Age
The IQ
Major Tests of Intelligence
Individual Tests
Binet-Simon Scale
Stanford-Binet Scale
Weschler Scales
Group Tests:
Army Alpha
Army Beta
SAT (School Ability Test)
CAT (Cognitive Abilities Test)
ACT (American College Test)
CQT (College Qualification Test)
Culture-fair Tests:
Raven Progressive Matrices

Basic Requirements of Assessment Tests
Standardization, Reliability, Validity

Nature x Nurture (Heredity x Environment)
Gender Differences
Emotional Intelligence
Perspectives on Intelligence

Intelligence is like Love in one sense: It is easily felt, identified, appreciated; but it will not easily yield to definitions.
David Wechsler, a noted modern psychologist, defines Intelligence as “the global capacity of an individual to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with the environment”. An analysis of this and the sea of other definitions take us to the general perception that ‘Intelligence is the capacity of the individual to understand the world, learn from experiences, and cope with the changes and challenges’.
Study on Intelligence is a comparatively modern branch of psychology. Most conspicuous developments occurred in the latter half of the twentieth century, more particularly towards the last two decades.

History of Intelligence Studies
Fox, 1981 establishes that the Chinese used mental ability tests even as early as 2200 B.C. to select candidates for their civil service.
Plato and Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosophers had mentioned intelligence
Anyway, the modern continuous stream of intelligence studies has its roots in the English scientist Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911) who set up his Anthropometric Laboratory at the 1884 International Health Exhibition in London.
Galton’s anthropometry measured physical characteristics like size of head, grip strength, visual sharpness and speed of response to sound. He related physical abilities to mental abilities and intelligence; thus concluded that men of greater physical abilities had more chance of success and survival. The correlation of physical and mental faculties was not so thumping as to make it a valid method of assessing intelligence.
However, his study of individual differences established the field of differential psychology that studies the cognitive and behavioural differences among individuals.

Theories of Intelligence
Most theories on intelligence depend on factor analysis, a statistical technique to determine the abilities that underlie intelligence. Some theories see intelligence as a general factor; some see it as a combination of different factors. Major theories are:
• Charles Spearman’s Two-factor Theory identifies a ‘g’ factor- general intelligence and various ‘s’ factors specific for different faculties like verbal, mathematical…. The ‘g’ and ‘s’ factors of intelligence are correlated. However, for Spearman, general intelligence is more important than any specific intelligence factor.
• Holzinger proposed and later collaborated with Spearman to build up the bi-factor theory. This retained the ‘general’ and ‘specific’ factors of Spearman; but also introduced ‘group factors’ common to some tests, but not to others. However, this did not get wide acceptance partly because of the advent of a more appealing theory – Thurstone’s Group factor theory.
• Louis Thurstone’s Group-factor theory or Multiple-factor theory introduced Primary Mental Abilities: seven factors – Reasoning, Word Fluency, Perceptual Speed, Verbal Comprehension, Spatial Visualization, Numerical Calculation and Associative Memory. For Thurstone these factors have moderate correlations, but not strong enough to assume an underlying general intelligence factor.
• Thorndike’s Multi-factor model denied the existence of a general factor ‘g’. According to him, the intellect is constituted of separate factors – minute and independent. Different tests require different elements as the ability; certain tests share common elements, certain others work on independent elements. He considered that in practical situations so many elements operate together and accordingly classified the elements into groups like Verbal Meaning and Arithmetic Reasoning. The test he developed comprised of four factors C, A, V, D: Sentence Completion ( C ), Arithmetic Reasoning (A), Vocabulary (V) and Following Directions (D).
• Thompson’s Sampling Theory proposed specific factors that sometimes get shared in mental ability tests. He called these factors as ‘samples’; hence the name Sampling Theory. Like Spearman’s Two-factor theory it granted for the presence of specific factors; like Thurstone’s Group-factor theory it insisted on the presence of more than two factors. Thus it acted as an intermediate between the two.
• Thomson put up the Theory of Bonds that conceived the mind as a complex of numerous bonds like reflexes, habits and learned associations. Any task would activate many of these bonds. Related tasks would stimulate overlapping subsets of bonds, generating the ambiance of a general factor.
• J.P. Guilford’s Theory of the Structure of the Intellect also rejected the notion of a general intelligence. He identified six kinds of operations, five kinds of content and six kinds of products. Guilford represented them along the X, Y and Z axes of a cube. He thus identified 180 (6 x 5 x 6) factors of intelligence. Each of these factors represents the interaction of the elements along the three dimensions. Each point on the cube will have a different combination of the different elements.
• Vernon’s Hierarchical Model has four levels. 1. The general factor ‘g’ that all tests measure. 2. ‘g’ is subdivided into two ‘major group’ factors – the Verbal-Educational ability (v:ed) and the Spatial-mechanical ability (k:m). 3. Six ‘minor group’ factors. v:ed is subdivided into Word, Fluency and Numerical Ability; k:m is subdivided into Spatial, Mechanical and Memory. 4. ‘Minor group’ factors are subdivided into numerous unidentified specific factors.
• Burt’s Hierarchical model has five levels. The lowest (first) is the sensory motor level. Brain instigates muscle activity according to the stimuli from the senses. 2. Perceptual level of coordinated movements. 3. Association level (memory, vocabulary, habit formation and imagery). 4. Relation level (realizing relations and applying them practically) 5. General intelligence that integrates the four inferior levels.

Alternative Theories
• Triarchic theory (Robert Sternberg) distinguishes between componential, experiential and contextual intelligences. Componential is more or less academic; the cognitive mechanisms that underlie intellectual functioning. Experiential is creative; how past experiences influence forthcoming tasks, how one acquires skills and knowledge. Contextual is practical; how one adapts to the environment or mould the environment to meet one’s purposes.
• Theory of Multiple Intelligences (Howard Gardner) assumes that there exist different adaptive abilities (intelligence) for different faculties like Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Spatial, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Intrapersonal, Interpersonal and Naturalist. A person might excel in one or a few kinds and be below average in others. In extreme cases, we have autistic savants- superb in one, but null in others.
• A most recent theory by John Horn and Raymond Cattell distinguishes between Fluid Intelligence (thinking ability, memory capacity, speed of information processing) and Crystallized Intelligence (knowledge acquired through schooling and everyday experience). Fluid intelligence is largely inherited, little affected by training and declines in late adulthood. Crystallized intelligence grows proportionate to schooling and experience and remains stable in late adulthood.
• Hebb proposed the concept of Intelligence A and Intelligence B. Intelligence A is an innate potential determined by the quality of brain and neural metabolism. Intelligence B is the product of the interaction between Intelligence A and the environment. As of now, A does not yield to measurement; it is not possible to estimate how much of one’s innate potential (A) is reflected in his practical intelligence (B). The possession of high A does not guarantee success in life; but it is an essential, without which any environment cannot work out wonders.
• John B. Carroll’s Three Strata Theory, based on review and analysis of factor analytic studies, categorized abilities into three strata: narrow (stratum-1) broad (stratum-2) and general (stratum-3). Narrow stratum reflects the effects of experience and learning. Broad stratum is indicative of specialized abilities and represents basic constitutional characteristics of individuals that can govern a great variety of behaviours. General stratum refers to general intelligence that dominates the second order factors.

Formal tests of Intelligence
Modern methods of psychological testing include achievement tests, aptitude tests and intelligence tests.
• Achievement tests assess knowledge of a particular subject or major academic areas
• Aptitude tests measures one’s potential in a particular academic or vocational setting. In a sense, it is partly achievement test in that the result depends on the candidate’s previous experience with the material covered by the test.
• Intelligence test is a kind of aptitude test that measures overall mental ability

Popular tests:
• Binet-Simon Scale (developed to help placing children in school classes).
• Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale (American version of Binet-Simon)
• Wechsler Intelligence Scales
• Army Alpha
• Army Beta
• SAT (School Ability Test, Scholastic Aptitude Test)
• CAT (Cognitive Abilities Test)
• ACT (American College Test)
• CQT (College Qualification Test)
o Indian versions of intelligence tests can be seen in CAT (Common Admission Test to the IIMs), MAT (Management Aptitude Test for other Business Schools) GMAT, GATE and the recruitment tests conducted by the UPSC and various state PSCs.

The concept of IQ: Evolution and Controversy
The first formal test of intelligence- the Binet-Simon Scale- was developed at the behest of the French government in order to identify children who required special education for slow learners. Psychologists Alfred Binet and Theodor Simon developed a set of questions related to language, reasoning and arithmetic. Each student was assigned a Mental Age (MA) based on the test scores. The difference between mental age and chronological age was used to determine the intelligence level of the student. Though this was useful, confusion still prevailed.
Consider two children: one of chronological age 10 and mental age 8; the other of chronological age 6 and mental age 4. Both have mental age two years below their chronological age; but the 6 year old would be farther behind his age peers than the 10 year old would be.
This problem was rectified by the German psychologist Willaim Stern’s concept of ratio IQ. Instead of considering the difference between mental age and chronological age, he suggested the ratio between the two. Thus in the above case, the index of the intelligence levels of the two students is not a difference of ‘2’; but the ratios of 8/10 (0.8) and 4/6 (0.67). This clearly reflects the greater deficiency of the six-year-old child.
For ease of representation and calculation, Stern suggested eliminating the decimals by multiplying the ratio by 100. Thus the formula (mental age, MA/ Chronological Age, CA) x 100 was devised; the resultant value was termed Intelligence Quotient, IQ.
i.e. IQ = (MA/CA) x 100
The French tool Binet-Simon Scale was translated into English and introduced to America by Henry Goddard. A revised version adapted to the American culture and upbringing was devised by Stanford University psychologist Lewis Terman in 1916. It is known as the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale. The Stanford –Binet was redesigned four times (latest in 1986) to make it suitable for children and adults.
Stern’s ratio IQ had another hurdle. By the time of adolescence, growth of mental age slows down considerably. This disfigures the IQ of the individual beyond reasonable limits. E.g. A fifteen-year-old girl with mental age 20 will have an IQ of (20/15) x100 =133. She might retain that mental age even at forty years of age. Then her IQ will be only (20/40) x 100= 50. Despite this, she might be a successful professional or homemaker.
To overcome this inadequacy, David Wechsler brought in the concept of deviation IQ. This compares a person’s intelligence test score with the mean score of his age peers. Those who perform exactly at the mean of their age peers are granted an IQ of 100.

Later Wechsler developed his own intelligence test. This is called Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale (Wechsler was at that time chief psychologist at the Bellevue hospital). The test rewards one with three scores- a verbal IQ, a non-verbal (performance) IQ and an overall IQ. LoBello & Gulgoz, 1991 has vindicated the division of intelligence into corresponding three types- verbal intelligence, performance intelligence and general intelligence.
Wechsler also classified his tests for different age groups. Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (for ages 4 - 6.5), Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children 6-16) and Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (from late adolescence through adulthood).
Wechsler intelligence scales contain eleven subtests that measure different aspects of verbal and nonverbal intelligence.

Group Tests
Stanford-Binet was the method popular during World War I. But it had to be given individually and was quite time consuming which the military could not afford at that time. So, Lewis Terman of Stanford and his student A.A.Otis developed two group tests- Army Alpha test (for those who could read English) Army Beta Test (given orally, for those who could not read English). Popular among the descendants of group intelligence tests are Otis-Lennon Mental Abilities Tests and Armed Forces Qualification Test.

Cultural bias and Culture-fair Tests
Generally, members of ethnic and racial minorities obtained lower IQ scores. This led to much controversy. Studies found out that tests were standardized largely on middle-class whites. Some items in them happened to be less familiar (thus, more difficult to answer) to people from other backgrounds. (Read more on the role of environment under the sub-title Nature vs. Nurture) In order to eliminate the cultural bias that crept into the tests, psychologists tried to develop culture-fair tests. Such tests attempt to include only items to which all people are exposed. To include people using languages other than English these tests tended to be non-verbal too.
The Raven Progressive Matrices is one such test. It consists of sixty matrices of varying difficulty. Each exhibits a logical pattern and has a missing portion. The test-taker has to identify from a set of options, the item to complete the pattern. This and similar tests draw more on the fluid intelligence/ intelligence A. Hence they are less inclined to cultural bias.
Credibility of Tests
To be credible and dependable, tests must be standardized, reliable and valid.
‘Standardized’ means ‘administered to all in a uniform manner so that results can be compared with norms’
‘Reliable’ means ‘results must be consistent within itself and over time’. Two tests of reliability are split-half reliability and test-retest reliability. Split-half reliability means that the scores obtained in every half of the test (odd number questions, even number questions, first half or the second half) should be consistent. Test-retest reliability means that every time an individual takes the same test, he/she should score the same. People will have faith in any test only if it gives consistent results. The results should fall within a tolerance range. Stanford-Binet and Wechsler tests have stood the tests of time to adhere to reliable correlations in test-retest verifications.
The concept of Validity means that the test should measure what it is supposed to measure, what it claims to measure. Controversies have arisen that the tests are discriminative towards blacks in America. Similar accusation of discriminations can be made in any society since rearing practices and growing environment affect IQ levels of individuals. Disadvantage in IQ scores is due to deprived upbringings. So what is needed is changing the living conditions rather than blaming and abolishing IQ tests. Everybody should get equal opportunity to gain experiences that help one to manage IQ tests well.

Normal persons have IQ scores between 70 and 130
Mentally retarded: IQ score < 70, and having difficulties in managing everyday life
Mentally gifted: IQ score > 130, and having unusual abilities in any one or a few areas

Factors like physical illness, impairment of the senses, the intelligence test being administered in a foreign language etc. may reduce one’s IQ score and daily performance. Such factors too shall be considered while assessing intelligence levels.

Nature vs. Nurture (Heredity X Environment)
As seen earlier regarding cultural bias, many tests gave disadvantageous scores to people other than American whites. There were some psychologists who believed that intelligence was more hereditary than acquired from environment or developed by training.
Francis Galton popularized the term “nature vs. nurture” Many people like Galton believed that nature dominates nurture. A relative of Charles Darwin, he championed this after finding that eminent men had a higher proportion of eminent relatives than others did.
In the USA, Goddard’s study of immigrants reached the conclusion that a majority of Italians, Hungarians, Russians and Jews in America had very low IQ levels bordering mild retardation. He failed to consider the inadequacies of the test, the candidates’ lack of education, anxiety created by long voyage, the testing situation etc. A critic of Goddard reported the hilariously ironic fact that the native-born mayor of Chicago also scored IQ in the mildly retarded category.
However, Goddard’s findings were supported by the Army during World War I and the US Immigration Act of 1924 restricted immigration from eastern and southern Europe. Strangely enough, it was wrought with irony again: Carl Brigham one of the associates who published the test results in 1923 refuted them in 1930. He observed that the immigrants, living in their original cultures, had little chance to encounter most of the material in the IQ tests. Similarly, the poor performance of the blacks was also attributed to deprived socio-cultural environments.
Adoption studies have shown that adopted children from poor backgrounds develop IQ levels lower than that of adoptive parents and higher than that of biological parents. This shows that both nature and nurture has a say on intelligence.
Evidence of the influence of environment on intelligence comes from the finding that IQ scores have increased from 5 – 25 points in 14 nations during the last 30 years apparently because of better nutrition, education and health care. The Japanese whom Galton and Goddard considered inferior nowadays score on an average, ten points higher than the Americans do.
As in the case of individual intelligence, battle raved regarding group intelligence also. There were many propounders of the genetic hypothesis. Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray in the best seller “The Bell Curve” argued that genetic factors accounted for “cognitive ethnic differences” between African American and other ethnic groups in America. It also contented that since individual differences in intelligence are influenced by genetic factors, group differences are too. As a corollary, they suggested that attempts at raising the intelligence levels of disadvantaged minorities through special programs would be a waste of effort.
Both the arguments were vigorously challenged and disproved.
Intelligence can be fostered: just as seeds of identical genetic makeup will grow better in a fertile field than in a barren field; just as men of equally good physique will excel in athletic qualities if well-nourished and well-trained.
Current trend views intelligence as comprising a variety of abilities and as being improvable by education. This will change the focus of research from trying to determine whether particular groups are naturally more intelligent than other groups. Now the focus will be on ways of helping all people to approach their intellectual potential.

Funny, but true
The conflict between supporters of Nature and Nurture is still unsettled. However, supporters of heredity propounded Eugenics- the practice of encouraging people of superior intelligence to reproduce and forbidding those of lower intelligence from reproducing. Some Nobel laureates like the physicist William Shockley who subscribe to this view have even deposited their sperm in a California “sperm bank”.

Very like the nature x nurture controversy, there has been contention over the IQ differences between male and female categories. Ultimately, there seems very little difference between the two. Either gender excels in a few faculties of intelligence and fare dull in a few other faculties. Psychologists try to attribute these little differences to the role the male and the female had to perform in course of evolution of the species. Sylverman and Eals suggest that there was a time during evolution when men hunted and women searched for edible plants. These tasks required different spatial abilities. Consequently, men who had to find way back home through long stretches of land are better at tasks like rotating objects in mind; women are better at noticing objects and remembering locations.

Emotional Intelligence
We saw early that any amount of fluid intelligence or intelligence A is no guarantee for success in life. Fertile environment is required for it to bloom well. Even a perfect positive correlation of all the factors measurable by any IQ test won’t suffice to assure this.
It is at this juncture that Daniel Goleman introduced the concept of Emotional Intelligence (measured as EQ). Goleman suggests that emotional intelligence consists of five major parts: 1. Knowing one’s emotions, 2. managing one’s emotions, 3.motivating oneself, 4.recognizing the emotions of others, 5.handling relationships.
Goleman’s books on emotional intelligence were best sellers. Gideon Markman and Robert A.Baron also made some substantial studies regarding emotional intelligence. Baron & Markman’s study on entrepreneurial successes found out that ‘entrepreneurs who are adept at “reading” others accurately and who adapt easily to new social situations (what they describe as “social adaptability”) are significantly more successful financially than entrepreneurs who score lower in theses skills’.
However most of the evidences put up by researches are indirect. At present there are not adequate tests to measure EQ. We do not even know if there can be a single EQ index like the IQ. Like the various factors or faculties or aspects of intelligence identified by psychologists, EQ also comprise of various factors or aspects. Once we identify them and develop tools sufficient to measure them there shall be revolutionary impacts on our lives.

Information Processing Approach
Strictly speaking, there are no information-processing theories of intelligence; whatever exist are of limited scope as compared to factor-analytic theories.
Clark-Chase theory is about the process of comparing sentences against pictures
Shepard theory is of mental transformation and internal representation
Simon-Kotovsky theory is of letter series completion
Published: 2006-09-12
Author: Benoy Jacob

About the author or the publisher
Senior Copy Editor,
 Selecting and editing stories for “MSN India” (
 Reviewing content for Windows XP - Malayalam Language Interface Pack, its tutorials and newsletters

Sub-Editor, Malayala Manorama with the additional responsibility of ISO certifications coordinator at Manorama for seven years.

Published translations
Short Stories Of Anton Chekhov
Our Father - spiritual contemplations of Cardinal Simonis, Netherlands

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