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Theories of intelligence

Some of the major theories of intelligence that have emerged during the last 100 years are given below:

Charles Spearman: Charles Spearman in 1927 proposed two factor theory of intelligence.According to him , intelligence consisted of a general factor and some specific factor. Genearal factor is g factor which is a single factor and correlated with specific abilities. G factor is responsible for overall performance of an individual. It includes all mental operation which is very common to all people. S factor is the specific abilities present in every individual which allow a person to excel in his/her own respective domains.

Louis Thurstone: Louis Leon Thurstone (born May 29, 1887, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.—died September 29, 1955) was an  American psychologist who was especially concerned with the measurement of people’s intelligence.He proposed theory of primary mental abilities that states intelligence consists of 7 primary mental abilities each of which is relatively independent of the others. They are:

  • Word fluency,
  • Verbal comprehension,
  • Spatial visualization,
  • Number facility,
  • Associative memory,
  • Inductive Reasoning
  • Perceptual speed.

J.P. Guilford: J.P. Guilford proposed the structure of-intellect model which classifies intellectual traits among three dimensions: operations, contents and products.

  • Operations are what respondent does. There are 6 kinds of operations — cognition, memory recording, memory retention, divergent production, convergent production, evaluation.
  • Contents refer to the nature of materials or information on which intellectual operations are performed. There are 5 kinds of contents — visual, auditory, symbolic (eg. letters and numbers), semantic(eg. words), and behavioral (e.g. information about people’s behavior, attitudes, needs).
  •  Products refer to the form in which information is processed by the respondent. There are 6 kinds of products (units, classes, relations, systems, transformations, and implications).

Since each of these dimensions is independent, there are theoretically 180 (6*5*6) different components of intelligence.

Howard Gardner: Howard Gardner proposed the theory of multiple intelligence. According to him, intelligence is not a single entity but consisted of distinct type of intelligence. Dr. Gardner proposes eight different intelligences and put forth the concept that each of these intelligences are independent of each other. He proposed that out of these the 8 primary intelligence, an individual may excel in one, two or even three of these, but nobody’s good at them all.

  1. Linguistic – It is the capacity to use language fluently and flexibly to express one’s thinking and understand others.
  2. Musical – It is the capacity to play musical instrument, create music and manipulate rhythm .Also have sensitivity to speech and tone.
  3.  Logical-Mathematical – This area has to do with logic, abstractions, reasoning, numbers and critical thinking.
  4. Spatial – It is the ability to form mental image and to visualize with the mind’s eye
  5. Bodily-kinesthetic – It uses whole or portion of the body flexibility and creativity to solve problems.
  6. Interpersonal – This includes sensitivity to others behaviors and understanding of  others feelings, moods, temperaments and motivations.
  7. Intrapersonal – Awareness of one’s own feelings, motives, and desires.
  8. Social – Sensitivity to motives, feelings, and behaviors of others.

Robert Sternberg: Robert Sternberg (1985) proposed the triarchic theory of intelligence. Sternberg’s triarchic theory of intelligence represents the information-processing approach to understand intelligence.According to this theory, there are three basic types of intelligence.

  1.  Componential or Analytical intelligence – This component refers to problem-solving abilities which including knowledge acquisition and learning the ways of doing things, planning concerning what to do and how to do and performance involves actually doing things.
  2. Experiential or Creative intelligence – It has the ability to make new inventions and discoveries. This intelligence involved in using past experiences creatively to solve new problem.
  3. Contextual or Practical intelligence– This component has the ability to apply knowledge to practice and involves the ability to deal with the situation encountered in daily basis.
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