Theories Of General Intelligence Psychology Essay

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General Intelligence is defined as the ability to think about various ideas, analyze different situations and conditions, and find solutions by solving problems. Different types of Intelligence tests are used to measure general intelligence.

What is General Intelligence?

In everyone's mind the main question is what is general intelligence?

The general intelligence factor or the g-factor is an arguable concept which is used in the field of psychology. It is used to measure the scores of all intelligence tests and finding out what is common in that scores. Charles Spearman discovered this in 1904 and afterwards developed it as a theory in 1923.

Intelligence was once thought to be one mental functioning process. Many researches took place on intelligence due to which psychologists have discovered many types of mental abilities that together make up intelligence:

General Intelligence is measured by how we think and how well we think and not includes what we know as what we know is directly influenced by our intelligence.

General intelligence is said to be evolved as a domain-specific adjustment to deal with evolutionarily new, nonrecurring problems. The human brain consisted of a number of domain-specific evolved psychological mechanisms to solve recurrent adjustment problems. Example: Food Procurement. If we think this way then our ancestors did not really have to think in order to solve such recurrent problems. Our ancestors had to do was to solve their everyday adjustment problems and they behaved according to how they felt. They did not know what emotions and feelings were. Reasoning was necessary for our ancestors as most of problems were new and they had unconditional solutions in their brain.

There might have been occasions for our ancestors where they faced evolutionary new problems which required them to think and reason in order to solve such problems.

Example: a) Lightning has struck a tree near the camp and set it on fire. The fire is now spreading to the dry underbrush. What should I do? How could I stop spreading of fire? How could I and my family escape it? (Since lightning never strikes the same place twice, this is considered to be a non-recurrent problem.)

b) We are in the middle of the severest drought in a hundred years. Nuts and berries at our normal places of gathering, which are usually plentiful, are not growing at all, and animals are scarce as well. We are running out of food because none of our normal sources of food are working. What else can we eat? What else is safe to eat? How else can we procure food?

These evolutionarily new problems might have happened frequently enough in the ancestral environment and had serious enough consequences for survival and reproduction, then any genetic mutation that allowed its carriers to think and reason would have been selected and what we now call "general intelligence" could have evolved as a domain-specific adaptation for the domain of evolutionarily novel, nonrecurrent problems.

Earlier general intelligence may not have been important than any other domain-specific psychological adjustment. But today in this modern world it became universally important because our current environment is almost entirely evolutionarily novel. The new theory suggests that more intelligent individuals are better than less intelligent individuals at solving problems only if they are evolutionarily novel.

Example: More intelligent individuals are not better at finding their way home in a forest, but they may be better at using a map or a satellite navigation device.

Types of General Intelligence

Verbal Intelligence

It is defined as the intelligence which uses language based reasoning to analyse information and solves problems to find their solution.

Verbal tasks consist of skills which are as follows:

The power to listen information and remember or recall spoken information;

Understanding the semantics of written and spoken information;

The ability to solve language based problems of a literary, logical, or social type;

Understanding the relationships between language concepts and performing language analogies or comparisons; and

The skills required for performing composite language-based analysis.

Verbal reasoning is very important in school work. Verbal reasoning skills are required for reading and language art tasks. Verbal reasoning is evaluated in a full rational assessment of IQ.

Examples: The power to listen to the whole story and stating its main idea requires verbal reasoning skills.

Non Verbal Intelligence

It is defined as the intelligence which uses visuals or hands on reasoning to analyse information and solves problems to find their solution.

Nonverbal tasks consist of skills which are as folllows:

The power to recognize visual sequences and recall those sequences.

To understand the semantics of visual information and to recognise relationships among visual concepts.

To perform visual analogies.

To recognise occasional relationships in pictured situations.

A mathematical concept such as physics problems, computer problems, and science problems requires nonverbal reasoning skills. These skills help students in many ways and enable them to analyse the problems and solve them without any help of language abilities. Non Verbal reasoning is also evaluated in a full rational assessment of IQ.

Example: Non-verbal intelligence is important in understanding math calculation and geometry.

Concrete Reasoning

It is defined as the intelligence which has the ability to analyse information and finds solutions by solving various problems on a literal level.

Concrete reasoning tasks involve skills such as:

Basic knowledge about names of objects, names of places, and people

To understand the basic cause and to understand the effect on relationships

To solve problems that has clear processes and solutions that should be logical.

Theory, metaphor and complex analogy should not be involved.

It is important because it forms the basis of knowledge. Firm understanding is required by the student to understand educational concepts and for solving a problem. It gives student the power to merge new ideas with the previous ones. Concrete reasoning is evaluated in a full rational assessment of IQ or intellectual ability.

Example: The power to match shapes and colours.

Abstract Reasoning

It is defined as the intelligence which uses complex thoughts to analyse information and solve problems to find solutions.

Abstract reasoning tasks involve skills such as:

To form theories about the nature of objects, ideas, processes and problem solving

To understand the subjects on a complex level by analysis and evaluation

The power to apply knowledge in problem-solving using theory, metaphor, or complex analogy

To understand the relationships among verbal and non verbal ideas.

Abstract problems are often visual. Social ideas are not involved in abstract problems. Abstract reasoning is evaluated as part of intelligence testing.

Example: To predict the outcome of an election using statistics.

Theories of Intelligence

Major theories of intelligence are as follows:

General Intelligence by Charles Spearman -:

Charles Spearman was a British psychologist. He explained the concept which he named as general intelligence. The concept was also knows as the g factor. He used a technique named as factor analysis to study various mental aptitude tests, after which Spearman concluded that scores on tests were outstandingly similar. He observed that people who performed well on one cognitive test tended to perform well on other tests, while those who scored badly on one test tended to score badly on other. He concluded that "Intelligence is general cognitive ability that could be measured and numerically expressed".

Primary Mental Abilities by Louis L. Thurstone -:

A different theory of intelligence was offered by Louis L. Thurstone who was a Psychologist. Thurstone theory focussed on seven different "primary mental abilities". The abilities that he described were:

Verbal comprehension


Perceptual speed

Numerical ability

Word fluency

Associative memory

Spatial visualization

Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner -:

Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences is one of the recent theory which emerged on intelligence. Gardner proposed that "numerical expressions of human intelligence are not a full and accurate depiction of people's abilities." He did not focussed on the test scores. His theory describes eight different intelligences that are based on skills and abilities that are valued within different cultures.

The eight intelligences Gardner described are:

Visual-spatial Intelligence

Verbal-linguistic Intelligence

Bodily-kinesthetic Intelligence

Logical-mathematical Intelligence

Interpersonal Intelligence

Musical Intelligence

Intra personal Intelligence

Naturalistic Intelligence

Triarchic Theory of Intelligence by Robert Sternberg -:

Robert Sternberg who is a Psychologist defined "intelligence as mental activity directed toward purposive adaptation to, selection and shaping of, real-world environments relevant to one's life." He totally agreed with Gardner that - intelligence is much not specific than a single, general ability. He also suggested Gardner's intelligences is better seen as individual talents. Sternberg proposed what he named as 'successful intelligence,' which consisted of three different factors:

Analytical intelligence: This component refers to problem-solving abilities.

Creative intelligence: This aspect of intelligence involves the ability to deal with new situations using past experiences and current skills.

Practical intelligence: This element refers to the ability to adapt to a changing environment.