Is intelligence best described as a single entity

1386 words (6 pages) Essay

1st Jan 1970 Psychology Reference this

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Intelligence is somewhat impossible to be describes or defined as a single entity. There are many factors that can trigger a type intelligence. Practical intelligence is somewhat people would consider common sense. Intelligence is the ability to adapt and shape in everyday environments. Some psychologists would argue that intelligence is a notion of a single entity, sometimes called “G” meaning general factor (Brand 96) and (Jensen 98). Both psychologists review that there is one general factor of intelligence. However it has been argued that there are many different types of intelligence. Intelligence can be a trait of many factors rather than one that involves multiple cognitive abilities (Thurstone 38, Gardner 99, Stenberg 77).

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In the early years people like Charles Spearman believed that intelligence was one single entity (supported by Brand and Jensen 98). In the early 1900s Spearman noted that most IQ tests and mental ability tests are positively correlated. The more one scores on the IQ test the more likely they’ll be able to score higher on any other types of mental ability tests. He then added that the ones that tended to score lower are less likely to score higher on any other types of mental ability tests. Some of the questions asked in the tests were general knowledge questions also known as “G” the general factor. However it was later criticised for been biased in the later years. Spearman’s first test was done in a village school with only 24 subjects. These results would be very hard to be generalised to the universal public. It can also be seen as culture bias, most of his tests were done in a Western country.

After the early criticisms of intelligent been one main entity, other psychologist believed that intelligence can be measure in many ways besides academic tests. Thurstone described intelligence by mental abilities. His theory based on intelligence was called “Primary mental abilities”. His theory focused on 7 primary mental abilities. The abilities were verbal comprehension, which is the ability to understand word meanings. Verbal speed or fluency ,as in making rhymes e.g. poems. Memory, the ability to remember letters words numbers and images. Perceptual speed, the ability to perceive similarities and differences between pictures and objects, the ability to quickly distinguish visual details. Inductive reasoning also known as deriving general ideas and rules from specific information given and finally Spatial visualisation, the ability to mentally manipulate objects in three dimensions e.g. a pilot (Thurstone 38). Thurstone’s theory gives us a more diverse types of intelligences rather than the one limitation given by Spearman.

However when other psychologists reanalysed Thustone’s results there were two major problems. The subjects who took part were all college (University) students. Therefore the intelligence tests performed may not reflect the general population. This is because college students are most likely to score higher on intelligence tests since their are already mentality prepared (Exam wised) before going to college. Secondly on the seven “Primary mental abilities” some of the abilities contradicted each other. E.g Number 1 and 4 also tend to be similar in order to have a good verbal comprehension you would need a good ability to remember words.

Gardner also formulated seven different types of intelligence. He believe that numerical expressions of human intelligence are not fully accurate and that people have other types if skills. The first two are well known and used in the educational system of today. He believed in linguistics which is a type of intelligence in which involves the ability to learn other languages in terms of spoken and written. The ability to effectively use language to express oneself rhetorically or poetically. Besides bilinguals or trilinguals Gardner would also see Lawyers and Doctors having linguistic intelligence in terms of them using high linguistic skills. It can be also known as jargon, a doctor’s professional jargon may not be understandable by the everyday public. The second is Logical (Mathematical) The ability to detect mathematical patterns and think logically (in terms of sums and problems). Carry out mathematical operations. This can also be seen as scientific thinking. The third is musical intelligence, which is the way in which one control’s the instrument the way in which one can put a musical piece through pitches, tones and rhythms. According to Gardner musical intelligence runs almost parallel to linguistic intelligence.

The forth type of intelligence is more physical, it is called bodily-kinesthetic intelligence this is when the body is used to solve problems. This is the ability to coordinate body movements, an example might be a professional athlete. Fifth type is Spatial intelligence this is the potential to recognise and use the patterns of wide space and more confined areas. The sixth is Interpersonal intelligence which is having the capacity to understand the fears and emotions of other people and motivating them to do better, some would say empowerment. It allows people to work well with others, examples would be religious leaders political leaders and sales people. The last one is Intrapersonal intelligence, this is when you can work well and appreciate other people’s feelings and considerations. To be able to use information to relate to others (Empathise). Garnder’s theory of intelligence looks like an upgrade model of Thurstone’s Primary Mental Abilities theory. Gardner’s model is use today to help educators use different styles of learning.

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Besides the seven different types of intelligence, Sternberg had his three sub theories for intelligence which were Analytical (componential) facet, Creative (experimental) facet and Practical (contextual) facet. Analytical component is similar to the definition of psychometric intelligence, this involves problem solving for example academic problems or exams. Metacomponents which is included in this theory is seen as the executive function in order to organise performance and knowledge acquisition components. This is done by control, monitoring and cognitive processing. These are used to analyse problems. The second component is Performance. This is when strategies are assembled by the metacomponents. They are the cognitive processes that enable us to encode stimulis and finally the Knowledge acquisition components, this is when strategies are used to help memorise things exemplify the process that fall into a chosen category.

The second subtheory is Creativity, this involves insights. Sternberg considers how the individual can connect from the internal world to the external reality. In other words the individual’s adjusting to new situations in terms of his/her creativity. He also believed that novelty and automatisation was also two broad classes of abilities associated with intelligence. The last subtheory was Practical. In this he used this quote “Purposive adaptation to, shaping of, and selection of real-world environments relevant to ones life” Sternberg (84). In this subtheory he described purposive in terms of working towards a goal in life, however crazy or vague it may be. Sternberg also saw that people with this type of intelligence (practical) in the real world are most likely to be called “street smart”. However Sternberg himself criticised his theories in terms of cultural differences, he claimed that individuals considered clever in one culture may be looked as on unintelligent in another.

Intelligence can be very vague and can vary depending on the environment. One thing for sure is that in order for intelligence to be measured it has to be corresponding with which ever environment it is measured in. Thurstone, Gardner and Sternberg more or less cover the different types of intelligence there may be and incounter individual differences. Their tests can also be measured in different cultures which makes them more realistic and less bias. Is intelligence best described as a single entity the answer is negative.

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