Brief Introduction to Theories of Intelligence

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According to Wechsler (1958), “intelligence is the aggregate or global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally and to deal effectively with his environment.” The different definitions of intelligence basically deal with three aspects, ie., ability to adjust to total environment , ability to learn and the ability to carry on abstract thinking.

The centre point of discussion of factor theories is whether intelligence is a single characteristic or a collection of specific distinguishable abilities. The technique adopted by these theories is known as factor analysis. It is a way of identifying groups of abilities or behaviours or traits that are related to one another. Following are the factor theories of intelligence; *G-factor theory

*Multifactor Theories
*Hierarchical Theory


The British psychologist Charles Spearman observed that people who scored well on one test of mental ability tended to score well on other tests (Spearman,1927).He believed that performance on any cognitive task depended on a primary general factor (which he termed as g factor) and one or more specific factors relating to particular tasks. Spearman, the originator of factor analysis based this view on the following findings: Although tests of intelligence often contain different kinds of items designed to measure different aspects of intelligence, scores on these items often correlate highly with one another. This fact suggested to him that no matter how intelligence was measured, it was related to a single, primary factor. According to Spearman, a person would be described as bright or generally dull depending upon the amount of g. Moreover, G factor is the major dominant of performance on intelligence test items. In addition special factors called s’s are specific to particular abilities or test items. For example, tests of arithmetic or special relations would each tap a separate s. An individual’s tested intelligence reflects the amount of g plus the magnitude of various s factors. Performance in mathematics would be a function of a person’s general intelligence and mathematical aptitude. Intelligence tests such as SBIS and the Wechslers scales were developed to measure Spearman’s concept of general intelligence, or “g”, which is expressed as an IQ score.

In contrast to Spearman, several theories have concluded that intelligence has multiple components. These theorists generally agree with Spearman that diverse intellectual tasks are usually correlated with one another-the basic fact that led to g factor theory in the first place. However they go beyond this fact, noting that certain clusters of test show higher correlations with one another than with other tests. For example, memory tests tend to show higher correlations with each other than with other tests; and tests that involve calculating numbers are better correlated with each other than with tests that are not numerical. This means that intelligence includes a memory factor, a numeric-ability factor, and perhaps other factors as well .The theorists who disagreed with Spearman theories known as Multi-factor theory. L. L. Thursten (1938) began with a set of 56 tests; from patterns of correlations among the tests, he identified 7 factors which he called primary mental abilities. They included: 1. Verbal Comprehension

2. Numerical Abilities
3. Spatial Relations
4. Perpetual Speed
5. Word Fluency
6. Memory
7. Inductive Reasoning

A multifactor theory more complex than Thursten was proposed by J.P. Guilford (1967). This three dimensional theory grew out of massive analysis of a great many existing tests. This resulted in the cubical model. This model provides 120 factors of intelligence. Each factor is...
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