Theories of Intelligence

  • Intelligence is the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge.
  • Intelligence includes the ability to benefit from experience, act purposefully, solve problems, and adapt to new situations.
  • Charles Spearman proposed a general intelligence factor, g, that underlies all intelligent behavior.
  • Howard Gardner proposed that there are eight domains of intelligence.
  • Robert Sternberg distinguished among three aspects of intelligence.
  • Emotional intelligence helps people to perceive, express, understand, and regulate emotions.

Intelligence Testing

  • The most commonly used individual tests of intelligence are the Binet-Simon scale, the Stanford-Binet Scale, and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale.
  • The Binet-Simon scale yielded scores in terms of mental age.
  • The original Stanford-Binet test yielded scores in terms of intelligence quotient, or IQ.
  • The Wechsler test yields scores based on a normal distribution.
  • Although the term IQ is still used, current intelligence tests present scores based on a normal distribution.
  • Group intelligence tests are often used in educational settings.
  • Some researchers have suggested that there are biological indices of intelligence, such as reaction time and perceptual speed.
  • Many psychologists believe that cultural bias affects intelligence tests.
  • Intelligence tests are standardized.
  • Norms provide information about how a score compares with other people’s scores.
  • Intelligence tests are very reliable.
  • Intelligence tests are reasonably valid measures of academic ability.
  • Intelligence tests have both critics and advocates.

The Influence of Heredity and Environment

  • There is dispute about how and how much heredity and environment affect intelligence.
  • Evidence for hereditary influences come from family studies, twin studies, and adoption studies.
  • Heritability estimates for intelligence vary depending on the method used for estimation.
  • Evidence for environmental influences comes from adoption studies, studies of environmental deprivation, and the Flynn effect.
  • There is probably a reaction range for IQ. Reaction range refers to limits set on IQ by heredity. Environment determines where IQ will lie within these limits.
  • There is a discrepancy in IQ scores between whites and some minority groups.
  • There are both hereditary and environmental explanations for this discrepancy.
  • The higher IQ test scores and better school performance of Asian Americans may be due to cultural factors.


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