I have been writing up support notes for developmental psychology based on questions from students. Here is a sample of what the final pdf/audio/power point will contain. Feeback is appreciated…
Intelligence remains undefined. The North American journalist Walter Lippman (1920) stated that, “We cannot measure intelligence when we have not defined it.”
A solitary definition of intelligence does not seem to exist. Not knowing how to operationalise a concept makes measuring it difficult.
The consensus to date is that intelligence is not unifactor in structure (i.e., a general intelligence).
Rene Descartes (1596-1650) a French philosopher stated that “I think therefore I exist.” To Descartes a person’s intelligence was responsible for creating knowledge and for validating the truth. And although he recognised that intelligence is at least partly responsible for what it is that makes each human unique, he maintained that mind and matter (body) were separate entities.
John Locke (1632-1704) an English philosopher and political theorist said,
“Let us suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters, without any ideas; how comes this to be furnished? . . . whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge? To this I answer, in a word, from experience.“
Locke believed that a person was born as a blank slate (tabula rosa) and that intelligence was the ability to reason built up over time by interactions with the environment.
In the 19th century the practice of craniometry became highly popular amongst academics. Cranial measurement in the west was used to classify people; intelligence, temperament and morals were thought to be revealed in the shape and size of the cranial cavity. Also known as physiognomy, the method is not to be confused with the Oriental arts of face reading which informs about wellbeing.
The low empirical evidence to support this method of testing intelligence was not realised until early in the 20th with the introduction of psychometric testing.
A multi-factorial structure appears better able to answer pertinent questions about intelligence: What abilities define intelligence? Can these be measured?
A multifactorial structure of intelligence would encompass many of the various types of intelligence; e.g., spatial, visual, auditory, adaptive. However, not all intelligences can be measured, such as creativity, curiosity, vision, charm.
A first step in identifying the factors that make up “intelligence” is to separate the concepts of Achievement and Aptitude;
Achievement: experience leading to knowledge and skills in a specific area; e.g., statistics in psychology
Aptitude: a measure of the capability to learn or become skilled in one or more areas; e.g., obtain psychology degree
Intelligence: ability to adapt in all aspects of life; e.g., fulltime-student with part-time work and two kids
A popular definition of intelligence for the 21st century includes four general factors; skills of logical reasoning, problem solving, critical thinking and adaption.
Across time, the ability to learn and apply new information seems to be a constant factor in the definition of intelligence. How a person navigates the world and their level of resiliency during adversity seems to be a key determinant of intelligence. The ability to cope may be the defining element of intelligence.
Further reading with: