Chapter 8: Intelligence and Individual Differences in Cognition

Psychometric Theories

Psychometricians - Psychologists who specialize in measuring psychological characteristics such as intelligence and personality.

Fluid intelligence - The ability to perceive relations among stimuli.

Crystallized intelligence - Comprises a person culturally influenced accumulated knowledge and skills, including understanding printed language, comprehending language, and knowing vocabulary.

  • Charles Spearman (1904) - Reported findings supporting the idea that a general factor for intelligence, or g, is responsible for performance on all mental tests.
  • Thurstone and Thurstone (1941) - Analyzed performance on a wide range of tasks and identified seven distinct patterns, each reflecting a unique ability - perceptual speed, word comprehension, word fluency, space, number, memory, and induction.
  • John Carrol - Hierarchical theory, general versus distinct abilities.


Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence

  • Rather than using test scores, he drew on studies of brain damages, talented people and child development.


Types of Intelligence

  • Linguistic - Knowing the meanings of words, having the ability to use words to understand new ideas, and using language to convey ideas to others.
  • Logical-Mathematical -Understanding relations that exist among objects, actions, and ideas, as well as the logical or mathematical operations that can be performed on them.
  • Spatial - Perceiving objects accurately and imagining in the “mind’s eye” the appearance of an object before and after it has been transformed.
  • Musical - Comprehending and producing sounds varying in pitch, rhythm, and emotional tone.
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic - Using one’s body in highly differentiated ways, as dancers, craftspeople, and athletes do.
  • Interpersonal - Identifying different feelings, moods, motivations, and intentions in others.
  • Intrapersonal - Understanding one’s emotions and knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Naturalistic - Understanding the natural world, distinguishing natural objects from artifacts, grouping and labeling natural phenomena
  • Existential - Considering “ultimate” issues, such as the purpose of life and the nature of death.


  • Later researchers began looking at other non-traditional aspects of intelligence such as- Emotional Intelligence- (EI) the ability to use one’s own and other’s emotions effectively for solving problems and living happily.


Sternberg’s Theory of Successful Intelligence

Successful intelligence - the skillful use of one’s abilities to achieve one’s personal goals (short term/ long term)

  • To achieve goals, people use three abilities
  • Analytic ability - Involves analyzing problems and generating different solutions
  • Creative ability - Involves dealing adaptively with novel situations and problems.
  • Practical ability - Involves knowing what solution or plan will actually
  • Hypothesis - If intelligence consists of these three distinct abilities, then scores from tests that measure different abilities should be unrelated. Creative ability scores should be unrelated to practical ability scores, and both should be unrelated to analytic ability scores.
  • Conclusion - Intelligence includes analytic, creative, and practical abilities, but these may not be completely independent as Sternberg had proposed initially.


Summery of Major Approaches to Intelligence

Psychometric - Intelligence is a hierarchy of general and specific skills.

Gardner’s Theory of multiple intelligence - Nine distinct intelligence exist- linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and existential.

Sternberg’s theory of successful intelligence - Successful intelligence is defined as the use of analytic, creative, and practical abilities to pursue personal goals.


The Development of Intelligence Testing

  • Binet and Simon’s approach was to select simple tasks that French children of different ages ought to be able to do, such as naming colors, counting backwards, and remembering numbers in order. Based on preliminary testing, Binet and Simon determined problems that normal three-year-old could solve, that normal four-year-old could solve, and so on.
  • They introduced the concept of mental age (MA)- the difficulty of the problem that children could solve correctly.
  • The Stanford-Binet - the American version from Stanford university for the Binet Simon test. The results meant about intellectual ability, describing performance as an intelligence quotient- IQ, which was a ratio of mental age to chronological age multiplied by 100.
  • IQ=MA/CA X100
  • The Stanford-Binet and the WISC-IV cannot be used to test intelligence in infants. For this purpose, many psychologists use the Bayley Scales of Infant Development.
  • Infant tests place more emphasis on sensorimotor skills and less on tasks involving cognitive processes such as language, thinking, and problem solving.
  • Researchers and healthcare professionals use scores from the Bayley Scales to determine whether development is progressing normally.


What do IQ Scores Predict?

  • IQ scores are quite powerful predictors of developmental outcomes.
  • Dynamic Testing- measures a child’s learning potential by having the child learn something new in the presence of the examiner and with the examiner’s help. This is interactive and measures new achievement rather than past achievement. (Vygotsky’s Ideas of Zone Proximal Development)

Heredity and Environmental Factors

  • Heredity and experience play an important role in intelligence.
  • Head start program

Impact of Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Status

  • Most researchers agree that there is no evidence that some ethnic groups have more “smart genes” than others.
  • The problem of bias led to the development of culture-fair intelligence tests, which include test items based on experiences common to many cultures.
  • Stereotype threat- knowledge of stereotypes leads to anxiety and reduced performance consistent with the original stereotype (example- stereotype threat on women’s performance in mathematics).


Gifted and Creative Children

Gifted - a term which traditionally has referred to individuals with scores of 130 or greater on intelligence tests.

  • Intelligence is associated with
  • convergent thinking - using information to determine a standard, correct answer.
  • In contrast, divergent thinking - where the aim is not to find a single correct answer (often there isn’t one) but instead, novel and unusual lines of thought.


Exceptional talent has prerequisites

  • The child loves the subject and has an almost overwhelming desire to master it.
  • Instruction to develop the child’s special talent usually begins at an early age with inspiring and talented teachers.
  • Parents are committed to promoting their child’s talent.

The message here is that exceptional talent must be nurtured.


Children with Disability

  • Intellectual disability, which refers to substantial limitations in intellectual ability, as well as problems adapting to an environment, with both emerging before 18 years of age.
  • Only individuals who are under the age of 18, have problems adapting in these areas, and have IQ scores of 70 or less are considered to have an intellectual disability.
  • Social Factors
  • Behavioral Factors
  • Educational Factors
  • Biomedical Factors


Children with Learning Disability

Learning Disability - Normal Intelligence, have difficulty mastering an academic subject, are not suffering from other conditions that could explain poor performance such as sensory impairment or inadequate instruction.

  • Three common disabilities
  • Developmental Dyslexia - Difficulties in reading individual words. Language disability, trouble recognizing phonological aspects.
  • Impaired reading comprehension - Difficulties in understanding words that have been read successfully.
  • Mathematical learning disability (developmental dyscalculia) - Difficulties in mathematics.


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