Definition: There is no single, absolute definition of intelligence due to the many diverse interpretations of what "intelligence" actually is. The various schools of psychology have each come up with their own interpretations of intelligence, which can be found below.

What is Intelligence?

Psychometric ("mental measurements") Theories :
  • Spearman's g factor: Spearman proposed that a single, innate, common factor of general intelligence (g) underlies performance across all intellectual domains, an idea based off the correlation of individuals' scores on different tests.
  • Cattell's Fluid and Crystallized Intelligence: After utilizing sophisticated mathematical techniques, Cattell came to believe that general intelligence was broken down into two components: crystallized Intelligence, or the knowledge a person has acquired, plus the ability to access that knowledge, and fluid intelligence, or the ability to see complex relationships and solve problems.

Cognitive Theories:
  • Sternberg's Triarchic Theory (the term for Sternberg's theory of intelligence, so called because it combines three main forms of intelligence)
    • Practical Intelligence, or the ability to cope with the environment; sometimes called "street smarts"
    • Analytical Intelligence, or the ability measured by most IQ tests; includes the ability to analyze problems and find correct answers
    • Creative Intelligence, or the form of intelligence that helps people to see new relationships among concepts; involves insight and creativity
  • Gardner's Multiple Intelligence Theory (proposes that there are seven or more forms of intelligence, seven of which are listed below)
    • Linguistic Intelligence
    • Logical-Mathematical Intelligence
    • Spatial Intelligence
    • Musical Intelligence
    • Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence
    • Interpersonal Intelligence
    • Intrapersonal Intelligence

Cultural Definitions:
Intelligence can have different meanings in different cultures; for example, consider how intelligence would be measured in a Pacific island culture: through SAT scores or through one's ability to navigate a boat on the open ocean? Similarly, people in all cultures prize certain mental abilities, even if these abilities are not the same throughout every culture. For example, Western cultures often consider the ability to develop quick solutions to problems a mark of high intelligence, while the Buganda people in Uganda associate intelligence with thoughtful and slow responses.

See Also...

  • Self-fulfilling prophecy, a term that describes when one's expectations influence behaviors or observations, as is seen when som-
    eone labeled "dumb" fails a test to which he or she knew the answers.
  • Savant syndrome, found in people who possess a remarkable talent even though they are mentally slow in other areas
  • Mental retardation, often thought of as representing the lower 2% of the IQ range; other definitions consider one's level of social functioning and otherabilities
  • Giftedness, often thought of as representing the upper 2% of the IQ range
  • Intelligence quotient, or IQ, a numerical score on an intelligence test, originally found by dividing the person's mental age by chronological age and multiplying by 100