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Intelligence Definition


The topic of intelligence is one that has been investigated and deeply debated over the course of many centuries by a wide variety of people, including philosophers, scientists, and laymen. It is difficult to explain in a single clear statement, and its meaning might shift greatly depending on the context. In spite of this, it is essential to have an understanding of this concept in our fast - moving world, since it has the potential to have a considerable influence on the ways in which individuals live their lives and interact with the world around them.

In this article, we will investigate the concept of intelligence and talk about the various types of intelligence that exist. We will also study the factors that influence intelligence.

Intelligence Definition

What is Intelligence?

The term "intelligence" originates from the Latin word intelligere, which means "to understand." This makes perfect sense given that the term refers to a person's capacity to understand various concepts.

Even though there are many different definitions of intelligence in use today, most experts agree that intelligence encompasses mental skills like logic, reasoning, problem-solving, and planning. To be more specific, the majority of contemporary definitions of intelligence generally state that it is the capacity to:

  • Gain knowledge via experience: the ability to acquire, retain, and apply information is an important part of overall intelligence.
  • Identify problems: In order for individuals to put their knowledge to use, they must first be able to recognize the issues that it may potentially solve.
  • Come up with solutions to issues: When people have gained knowledge, they are responsible for applying that knowledge to the process of resolving issues.

Research on intelligence plays a key role in a wide variety of sectors, including the screening of job applicants, the financing of educational program, and the testing of children to determine which ones need further academic assistance.

Main Theories of Intelligence

According to the findings of several experts, there might be three, four, or six distinct theories in the field of psychology. Here we have focused only on some of the most prominent psychological theories on intelligence.

Theory of General Intelligence (G Factor)

General intelligence, sometimes known as the "g factor," was first outlined by Charles Spearman, a British psychologist who lived from 1863 to 1945. The term "general intelligence" refers to a construct that is considered to be composed of a number of distinct cognitive abilities. Those with these abilities are able to increase their knowledge and find solutions to issues.

This general mental ability is what enables specialized mental skills connected to areas such as those dealing with spatial, numerical, mechanical, and linguistic abilities. The key concept behind this theory is that one's level of general intelligence affects one's overall performance in terms of cognitive tasks.

Charles Spearman contributed to the development of factor analysis, a statistical approach that enables researchers to employ a variety of tests to measure common abilities. For instance, researchers may discover that individuals who do well on tests that measure vocabulary also perform well on tests that measure reading comprehension.

He proposed that this general intelligence or g factor was responsible for overall success on mental ability tests. He observed that although individuals may and did thrive in some areas, those who excelled in one area tended to excel in other areas as well.

Theory of Primary Mental Abilities

Louis Leon Thurstone (1887-1955) is among the most prominent writers in the subject of psychometry. His most important contribution is his theory of the seven primary mental abilities, which stands in opposition to the unitary and hierarchical models of intelligence presented by other pioneers such as Charles Spearman and P. E. Vernon.

In a very specific sense, Thurstone questioned the existence of a general intelligence factor (also known as the "g factor") to which all other cognitive capacities would be subordinated.

In 1938, using his new method for factor analysis, thurstone discovered that intelligent behaviors does not originate from a generic factor, but rather arises from seven separate variables that he called primary ability. " they are as follows:

  • Associative memory: The mental capacity to store information and retrieve it later.
  • Numerical ability: The skill of being able to find solutions to mathematical issues.
  • Perceptual speed: The capacity to differentiate between things while also recognizing their shared qualities.
  • Reasoning: The skill of discovering rules.
  • Spatial visualization: The capacity to picture how a two-dimensional object might seem in three dimensions is referred to as spatial visualization, also known as spatial intelligence. It is possible to spin it in your head even when there are no actual components in front of you to do so.
  • Verbal comprehension: The capacity to define and understand words.
  • Word fluency: The capacity to generate words in a quick manner.

Multiple Intelligences

Howard Gardner, a psychologist at Harvard, is the one who put up the idea of multiple intelligences. According to this theory, the conventional psychometric approaches of measuring IQ have their limitations. In his book published in 1983 titled "Frames of Mind: The Theory of multiple Intelligences," Howard Gardner first outlined his theory. In this book, Gardner proposed that several types of "intelligences" are present in every person.

Gardner stated that there are eight different types of intelligence, but he also mentioned the possibility of adding a ninth intelligence, which he referred to as "existentialist intelligence."

His theory holds that there are nine separate forms of intelligence, each of which is governed by a different region of the brain. And therefore, if someone were to experience injury to a specific region of their brain, it would only have an effect on the part of intelligence that is controlled by that particular region.

Multiple intelligence theory provides support for disorders such as savant syndrome. People who have this syndrome typically have great intelligence in particular areas, but often score much lower on fundamental IQ tests and frequently are unable to do simple tasks. The following is a list of the nine intelligences:

  • Verbal-linguistic intelligence: A strong command of the any language and an awareness of the sounds, meanings, and rhythms of words. William Shakespeare and Oprah Winfrey are two examples of people with high verbal-linguistic intelligence who can use language to think critically and produce works like plays, novels, and memos.
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence:The capability to recognize logical and numerical patterns as well as the ability to think creatively and abstractly. Individuals that have logical-mathematical intelligence, like Albert Einstein and Shakuntala Devi, have the capacity to formulate equations, do calculations, and find solutions to abstract problems.
  • Spatial-visual intelligence: the ability to form mental representations that are both precise and abstract. Individuals who have spatial intelligence have the capacity to identify and manage large-scale as well as fine-grained spatial pictures. Famous examples of people who have spatial intelligence are Frank Lloyd Wright and Amelia Earhart.
  • Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence:Skill in controlling one's own motions and manipulating one's surroundings. Those who are gifted with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, like Michael Jordan and Simone Biles, are able to utilize their bodies to think of ideas, execute plans, and find solutions to issues.
  • Musical intelligences: The ability to generate and appreciate rhythm, pitch, and timber in music. Individuals who have musical intelligence, like Arijit Singh and Ed Sheeran, have the ability to recognize and produce musical pitch, rhythm, timbre, and tone.
  • Interpersonal intelligence: Ability to recognize and react to other people's emotional states, goals, and requirements. Individuals like Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa have high levels of interpersonal intelligence because of their ability to read and interpret the feelings, thoughts, and intentions of others around them.
  • Intrapersonal intelligence: The ability to be self-aware as well as in touch with one's inner emotions, values, beliefs, and thought processes. Individuals who have intrapersonal intelligence, like Aristotle and Maya Angelou, are able to perceive and comprehend their own emotions, wants, motivations, and intentions.
  • Naturalist intelligence: Skill of recognizing and categorizing plants, animals, and other items found in nature. Individuals who have naturalistic intelligence, such as Charles Darwin and Jane Goddall, are able to recognize and differentiate between the many kinds of plants, animals, and weather patterns that are present in the natural world.
  • Existential intelligence: Sensitivity and the ability to deal with deep questions about human existence, such as "What is the meaning of life? Why do we die? How did we get here?".

Sternberg's Three Types of Intelligence

Robert Sternberg, a psychologist, shared Gardner's belief that there was more than one sort of intelligence. Sternberg, however, suggested a theory of three categories rather than nine. These 3 components are analytical, creative, and practical.

The dependability of the g-factor as a predictor of success is one point that opponents of this theory raise. It is the mix of grit and g-factor that is attributed with the greatest success.

While there are a number of other instances of intelligence that may be taken into account when looking at the bigger picture of human intellect, Robert Sternberg's idea has been significant in the development of the classroom as well as standardized testing.

  • Analytical Intelligence: This kind of intelligence may be measured using standardized exams since it relates to academics.
  • Creative Intelligence: Creative intelligence involves coming up with new ideas and being able to change. Not only does this encompass creative invention and the production of new things within a medium, but it also includes the capacity to apply fundamental knowledge in order to produce different and more desirable outcomes.
  • Practical Intelligence: The information that is gained through experience and then applied to the tasks that we do on a daily basis is known as practical intelligence.

Additional Types of Intelligence

Fluid Intelligence

Raymond Cattell, a psychologist, initially introduced the theory of fluid and crystallized intelligence, which he then advanced with his student John Horn.

The capacity to think, conduct analysis, and find solutions to issues is referred to as fluid intelligence. When we utilize fluid intelligence, we are not depending on any prior information at all in our decision making. Instead, we are using reasoning based on logic, the recognition of patterns, and abstract thought in order to find solutions to new issues.

When we have to solve something completely new, especially if it's a nonverbal challenge like an arithmetic puzzle, we're using our fluid intelligence. When someone takes up a paintbrush or begins playing on a piano without any previous instruction, they are demonstrating fluid intelligence, which plays a part in the creative process.

Individuals begin to experience a reduction in their abilities as they become older, which may sometimes begin as early as the 20s of their age. Yet, studies have indicated that participating in activities that challenge our fluid intelligence may help slow down this reduction in cognitive ability.

Playing strategic games such as chess or solving puzzles such as Sudoku are two examples of activities that might help improve your fluid intelligence. These are the kinds of exercises that drive you to think critically and creatively while also pushing the boundaries of your working memory capacity.

Crystallized Intelligence

An essential component of human cognition is crystallized intelligence, which is the capacity to apply abilities and information gained via earlier learning. In order to demonstrate this sort of intelligence, one must often recollect previously acquired knowledge in order to solve issues or carry out a variety of tasks. The focus of crystallized intelligence is on practical knowledge and competence, as compared to fluid intelligence, which includes the capacity for abstract reasoning and thought.

Nonetheless, Crystallized Intelligence may be put to use in a variety of situations, such as when one has to recall certain dates and events, locate specific places, expand one's vocabulary, or recite poetry.

Intelligence is Influenced by a Variety of Different Factors

Cultural Influences

Children whose cultures do not place a high emphasis on education, or those who are not well-adapted to the types of questions that are found in conventional intelligence tests, tend to have lower intelligence scores than children whose cultures do place a high emphasis on schooling. This is because language, cultures, and childhood experiences all have an impact on a child's intelligence. Children in certain societies are raised with the expectation that they would work on farms or in other occupations that do not need them to have completed formal education. The manner in which a family communicates may also have an impact on how well a kid performs in standardized IQ testing.

Brain Structure

Recent studies have shown that the thickness of the outer layer in some brain areas, such as the frontal and temporal lobes, may have a major influence on a person's cognitive ability.

The frontal lobes are in charge of the mental abilities necessary for everyday life, such as planning, organising, and even emotional and behavioral reactions in order to achieve one's objectives, while the temporal lobes are primarily concerned with remembering, language and non-verbal learning.

It's interesting to note that thickness isn't the only factor that has a role in intelligence; researchers have also related changes in brain volume and the number of nerve cells to intelligence. For instance, researchers have discovered a correlation between increased volumes in certain regions of the brain and higher IQ scores.

Nutrition and Physical Activity

The growth of a child's intelligence is directly correlated with the quality of the nutrition they consume. Many studies have shown that inadequate nutrition is associated with lower IQ scores, whereas appropriate nutrition has been demonstrated to improve mental performance. Nutrition is one of the most important elements in the development of the brain since it is necessary for appropriate brain growth and function.

Another crucial element that might impact children's IQ levels is physical activity. Regular exercise improves circulation and increases the amount of oxygen that reaches all parts of the body, including the brain. This assists in improving cognitive capacities such as memory recall, attention span, and the ability to solve problems. Moreover, engaging in regular physical exercise has been shown to lower stress levels, which may also have a beneficial effect on intelligence.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)

Since pregnancy is such an important period for both the mother and the child, it is very necessary to take extra precautions to ensure that neither one of them suffers any kind of injury. A woman who is pregnant has an increased responsibility to be aware of the possible risks associated with the use of toxic substances like drugs or alcohol. These toxic substances can lead to significant developmental problems in the child, including fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). The symptoms of FAS include both physical and mental impairments, and they may last a person's whole life.

The influence of FAS on Level of intelligence is one of its most serious consequences. According to several studies, children who suffer from FAS may have a lower IQ than their peers who were not exposed to alcohol while their mothers were pregnant. In addition, they could have issues with their memory, their ability to focus their attention, and their ability to find solutions to problems. This reduction in cognitive abilities may have an effect on both their overall academic achievement and the future opportunities available to them.

Home Environment Influence

Children's intelligence might suffer when they are exposed to chaotic home environments or when they are confronted with traumatic experiences throughout their formative years. Children's ability to concentrate and take in new information might be hindered when they are constantly exposed to events that cause loud sounds, such as continual screaming or argumentation. This lack of attention often leads in poorer exam scores as well as decreased academic performance.

Also, a child's cognitive growth might be hindered if they do not get enough emotional support throughout the early years of their life. Children who are not provided with the necessary amount of emotional support are more likely to battle with feelings of anxiety and depression. These unpleasant emotions may interfere with a person's ability to focus on academic work, which will, in the end, impact their general intelligence.

Genetic Influences on Intelligence

Twin studies have produced some of the most compelling evidence supporting a genetic component for Level of intelligence. Many research have been conducted to investigate the differences and similarities that exist between the intelligence levels of identical twins and fraternal twins. As a result of developing from the same fertilized egg, identical twins are genetically indistinguishable from one another. Unlike identical twins, fraternal twins develop from two different eggs and share just half of their DNA. Since that identical and fraternal twins both experience the same prenatal and home circumstances, any IQ similarities or differences between identical and fraternal twins may probably be explained by genetics.

It was discovered that the IQ scores of identical twins are much more similar to one another than the IQ scores of fraternal twins. Even identical twins who were brought up in different families were found to have intelligence quotients that were more comparable to one another than those of fraternal twins who were brought up together. Because of this, we may reasonably conclude that genetic effects are to blame for the comparable IQ scores shown by identical twins.


Intelligence in humans refers to something far more complex than a numerical IQ. The IQ test only accounts for a tiny portion of an individual's overall intellect.

The idea of individual intelligence has progressed significantly from the days when it was measured by a straightforward g-factor or intelligence quotient (IQ). There is a seemingly endless array of characteristics that contribute to our knowledge of what constitutes measurable intelligence. Some of these factors include social savvy, emotional intelligence, practical intelligence, and analytical intelligence. Even though we know that intelligence refers to the extent of our knowledge as well as our capacity to learn and adapt, the study of intelligence in its wider sense is still a topic that is actively being researched.

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