Intelligence Theory

The main theorists that we learned about during the intelligence section of this course are Charles Spearman, L.L. Thurstone, Joy Guilford, Daniel Goleman, Robert Sternberg, and Howard Gardner. In this course, we defined intelligence as the ability to adapt to one’s environment. We began by learning about the first IQ test, which was created by Alfred Binet because the French government needed a way to determine whether a child was mentally challenged or not. An IQ score is determined by taking a test, which gives you your mental age, and then dividing your mental age by your chronological age and multiplying that number by 100. This test can tell you whether a child is mentally delayed, gifted, or somewhere in between.

The first theorist we discussed is Charles Spearman. Spearman developed a theory that involved two different types of intelligence. These two types are the g factor, or generalized intelligence, and the s factor, or specialized intelligence. This theory essentially states that we each have generalized and specialized intelligences but that our specialized intelligence represents things that we specifically excel in that others may not. He states that each child has generalized intelligence that combines snippets of various specialized intelligence into one general understanding of basic concepts and knowledge. However, as a child gets older and develops their own interests, their specialized intelligence increases. This specialized intelligence is often used to determine their career path based on what they do well in.

The next theorist we talked about is L.L. Thurstone. Thurstone theorized that there are seven primary mental abilities, which are number facilities, reasoning, memory, spatial perception, perceptual speed, verbal comprehension, and word fluency. This theory is commonly used today in standardized tests, which incorporate each of these primary mental abilities. It is important for children to grasp these abilities in order to get into college since most college entry exams revolve around them.

Joy Guilford expanded on Thurstone’s theory and ended up finding 120 different mental abilities, among which the most popular were divergent and convergent thinking. Convergent thinking is often used in the academic world through things like standardized test. This type of thinking involves pulling information from different resources to come up with one correct answer. However, divergent thinking is a little more creative. Divergent thinking involves coming up with multiple answers to the same problem. This requires thinking outside of the box and coming up with ideas that may not have been your first thought.

Daniel Goleman is a more modern intelligence theorist. He focuses on emotional intelligence, which involves four parts. These four parts are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Self-awareness emphasizes the separation of feelings and action. An example of a child practicing self-awareness would be for them to calm themselves down by taking deep breaths when they are angry as opposed to being violent or throwing a tantrum. Self-management focuses on controlling negative emotions. A child using self-management would choose to ignore another child’s hurtful words instead of taking them personally and getting angry or upset. Social awareness requires taking the perspective of others. A child who is socially aware would not take a toy away from another child because they wanted to play with it. Instead, they would kindly ask the other child or wait until they are finished so that they will not hurt their feelings. Relationship management is the ability to solve problems within relationships. A child who has grasped relationship management should be able to work things out with their friends instead of running to tell a teacher every time their feelings are hurt by a peer.

Robert Sternberg came up with the triarchic theory of intelligence, which includes three categories of intellectual abilities. These categories are analytic, creative, and practical. The analytic intellectual abilities include analyzing, judging, evaluating, comparing, and contrasting and it is most useful in a school setting. The creative abilities include designing, inventing, creating, and originating and these abilities are best suited for artistic activities. The practical abilities include applying, implementing, and setting into motion and these abilities pertain more to common sense and dealing with people in a real world setting. These are all important areas to have at least some amount of competence in, especially when entering a career field.

Howard Gardner has an extremely detailed, modern theory of intelligence. His theory of multiple intelligences provides a list of various kinds of intelligences and how they can prove useful in life. The list of intelligences includes linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. People who are good with words have linguistic intelligence and can typically succeed as writers. Logical-mathematical intelligence is useful when pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Musical intelligence is exactly what it sounds like and works for careers like a musician or a songwriter. Those with spatial intelligence usually do well in art fields in which they can create pictures and designs. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is found in people who succeed in careers such as dancing or sports. People with interpersonal intelligence excel in jobs in which you have to interact face to face with another individual such as being a realtor or sales person. Those with intrapersonal intelligence are more likely to keep to themselves and could do well with spiritual jobs such as a priest or a rabbi. Lastly, naturalistic intelligence revolves around nature and works well for farmers and landscapers. Gardner’s theory references essentially every intelligence one could have and celebrates the differences between all of them.

This graphic gives more insight into Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences.

This graphic gives more insight into Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences.


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