Different Types of Intelligence Theory

In the previous article we had discussed the basic concept and definitions of Intelligence. This article summarises the different theories of intelligence postulated by different researchers to explain the nature of intelligence. Let’s start with the first intelligence theory:

Uni or one factor theory

As mentioned in Concept & Definitions of Intelligence, Alfred Binet was the first psychologist who tried to formalise the concept of intelligence in terms of mental operations. Binet’s theory of intelligence was rather simple as it arose from his interest in differentiating more intelligent from less intelligent individuals.

He conceptualised intelligence as consisting of one similar set of abilities which can be used for solving any or every problem in an individual’s environment. His theory of intelligence is called Uni or one factor theory of intelligence. This theory came to be disputed when psychologists started analysing data of individuals, which was collected using Binet’s test.

Charles Spearman: Two-factor Theory

Charles Spearman used the techniques of correlational analysis and factor analysis, developed earlier by Karl Pearson, in relation to the scores obtained by groups of children on various intelligence tests and concluded that intelligence consisted of a general factor (g-factor) and some specific factors (s-factors).

The g-factor includes mental operations which are primary and common to all performances. In addition to the g-factor, he said that there are also many specific abilities. These are contained in what he called the s-factor. Excellent singers, architects, scientists, and athletes may be high on g-factor, but in addition to this, they have specific abilities which allow them to excel in their respective domains.

Thurstone’s Theory of Primary Mental Abilities

Spearman’s theory was followed by Louis Thurstone’s theory. He generalised Spearmen’s methods and formulas, translated them into matrix algebra and carried out largescale studies and proposed that instead of Spearmen’s “g” factor, intelligence consists of seven primary abilities. These primary abilities are:

  1. Verbal Comprehension (grasping meaning of words, concepts, and ideas),
  2. Numerical Abilities (speed and accuracy in numerical and computational skills),
  3. Spatial Relations (visualising patterns and forms),
  4. Perceptual Speed (speed in perceiving details),
  5. Word Fluency (using words fluently and flexibly),
  6. Memory (accuracy in recalling information), and
  7. Inductive Reasoning (deriving general rules from presented facts).

Arthur Jensen’s Hierarchical Model

Arthur Jensen proposed a hierarchical model of intelligence consisting of abilities operating at two levels, called Level I and Level II.

  • Level I is the associative learning in which output is more or less similar to the input (e.g., rote learning and memory).
  • Level II, called cognitive competence, involves higher-order skills as they transform the input to produce an effective output.

J.P. Guilford: Structure of intellect Theory

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

The Operations Dimension:

Operations are what the respondent does. These include:

  • Cognition – The ability to understand, comprehend, discover, and become aware.
  • Memory Recording – The ability to memorise information.
  • Memory Retention –
  • Divergent Production – The process of generating multiple solutions to a problem
  • Convergent Production – The process of deducing a single solution to a problem.
  • Evaluation – The process of judging whether an answer is accurate, consistent, or valid.

The Content Dimension:

Contents refer to the nature of materials or information on which intellectual operations are performed. These include:

  • Visual – Information arising from stimulation on the retina in the form of an image.
  • Auditory – Information arising from stimulation of the cochlea of the ear as image. •
  • Symbolic – Information perceived as symbols or signs that have no meaning by themselves; for example, Arabic numerals or the letters of an alphabet.
  • Semantic – Information perceived in words or sentences, whether oral, written, or silently in one’s mind.
  • Behavioural – Information perceived as acts of an individual/ individuals

The Product Dimension:

Products refer to the form in which information is processed by the respondent. Products are classified into:

  • Unit – Represents a single item of information.
  • Class – A set of items that share some attributes.
  • Relation – Represents a connection between items or variables; may be linked as opposites or in associations, sequences, or analogies.
  • System – An organisation of items or networks with interacting parts.
  • Transformation – Changes perspectives, conversions, or mutations to knowledge; such as reversing the order of letters in a word.
  • Implication – Predictions, inferences, consequences, or anticipations of knowledge.

Since this classification includes 6 ́5 ́6 categories, therefore, the model has 180 cells. Each cell is expected to have at least one factor or ability; some cells may have more than one factor. Each factor is described in terms of all three dimensions.

Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences

  • Read: Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences

Robert Sternberg: Triarchic Theory of Intelligence

While Robert Sternberg agreed with Gardner that intelligence is much broader than a single, general ability, he instead suggested that some of Gardner’s types of intelligence are better viewed as individual talents. Sternberg proposed what he referred to as “successful intelligence,” which involves three different factors. According to this  triarchic theory of Intelligence, there are three basic types of intelligence: Componential, Experiential, and Contextual.

Componential Intelligence:

Componential or analytical intelligence is the analysis of information to solve problems. Persons high on this ability think analytically and critically and succeed in schools. This intelligence has three components, each serving a different function.

  • First is the knowledge acquisition component, which is responsible for learning and acquisition of the ways of doing things.
  • The second is the meta or a higher order component, which involves planning concerning what to do and how to do.
  • The third is the performance component, which involves actually doing things.

Experiential Intelligence:

Experiential or creative intelligence is involved in using past experiences creatively to solve novel problems. It is reflected in creative performance. Persons high on this aspect integrate different experiences in an original way to make new discoveries and inventions. They quickly find out which information is crucial in a given situation.

Contextual Intelligence:

Contextual or practical intelligence involves the ability to deal with environmental demands encountered on a daily basis. It may be called ‘street smartness’ or ‘business sense’. Persons high on this aspect easily adapt to their present environment or select a more favourable environment than the existing one, or modify the environment to fit their needs. Therefore, they turn out to be successful in life.

Sternberg’s triarchic theory of intelligence represents the information- processing approach to understand intelligence.

Das, Nagliery, and Kirby’s Pass Theory

J.P. Das, Jack Naglieri, and Kirby (1994) developed a theory-based, multidimensional view of intelligence with constructs borrowed from contemporary research in neuropsychology, information processing and human cognition.

According to this model, intellectual activity involves the interdependent functioning of three neurological systems, called the functional units of brain. These units are responsible for arousal/attention, coding or processing, and planning respectively. Consequently, this theory has four components: Planning, Attention-Arousal, Simultaneous, and Successive (PASS) processing systems.

Arousal/Attention: State of arousal is basic to any behaviour as it helps us in attending to stimuli. Arousal and attention enable a person to process information.

Simultaneous and Successive Processing: You can integrate the information into your knowledge system either simultaneously or successively. Simultaneous processing takes place when you perceive the relations among various concepts and integrate them into a meaningful pattern for comprehension. Simultaneous processing helps you in grasping the meaning and relationship between the given abstract figures. Successive processing takes place when you remember all the information serially so that the recall of one leads to the recall of another.

Planning: This is an essential feature of intelligence. After the information is attended to and processed, planning is activated. It allows us to think of the possible courses of action, implement them to reach a target, and evaluate their effectiveness. If a plan does not work, it is modified to suit the requirements of the task or situation.

The final component of the PASS model is output or action and behaviour. The PASS theory of intelligence (1) has given us tests to measure intelligence as a set of cognitive processes, (2) discusses what the major processes are, and (3) guides us in the remediation of processing difficulties.

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