What is intelligence
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What is Intelligence?. Intelligence (in all cultures) is the ability to learn from experience, solve problems, and use our knowledge to adapt to new situations. In research studies, intelligence is whatever the intelligence test measures. This tends to be “school smarts.”.

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What is Intelligence?

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What is intelligence

What is Intelligence?

  • Intelligence (in all cultures) is the ability to learn from experience, solve problems, and use our knowledge to adapt to new situations.

    • In research studies, intelligence is whatever the intelligence test measures. This tends to be “school smarts.”

What is intelligence1

What is Intelligence?

  • Is intelligence a single overall ability or is it several specific abilities

    • To find out scientists use FACTOR ANALYSIS = a statistical procedure that identifies clusters of related items on a test.

      • Used to identify different dimensions of performance that underlie one’s total score.

  • Intelligence Test

  • Verbal ability – excel at verbal fluency, remembering words, spelling, comprehension, etc

  • Personality Test

  • Extraversion – describe themselves as liking excitement, practical jokes, and disliking quiet reading

Convergent Thinking: Ability to apply the rules of logic and knowledge about world to reduce the number of possible solutions to a problem (EX: What can you use a newspaper for? Gain info or news

General intelligence

General Intelligence

  • General Intelligence (g) = a single, overall intelligence factor that underlies all mental abilities and is therefore measured by every task on an intelligence test

    • Doing well in one area of a test predicted that you will do well in another.

Multiple intelligences

Multiple Intelligences

Howard Gardner disagreed with Spearman’s “g” and proposed a theory of multiple intelligences.

According to this definition, both Einstein and Ruth intelligent

Speculates about 9th intelligence - existential intelligence (the ability to think about the question of life, death and existence)

Triarchic theory of intelligence

Triarchic Theory of Intelligence

Sternberg simplifies Gardner and suggests three intelligences rather than eight.

  • Analytical Intelligence: Intelligence that is assessed by intelligence tests (academic problem solving)

  • Creative Intelligence: Intelligence that makes us adapt to novel situations, generating novel ideas.

  • Practical Intelligence: Intelligence that is required for everyday tasks, where multiple solutions exist (e.g. street smarts).

Alice is a good student, always getting good grades until she reached graduate school. Required to come up with original ideas, Alice began to fall behind. Barbara is not such a good student, but she’s brimming over with ideas for research. Celia is neither a good nor a creative student, but she’s street smart; she knows how to play the game—how to get things done.

Sternberg summarizes: “So basically what I’ve said is there are different ways to be smart but ultimately what you want to do is take the components (Alice’s intelligence), apply them to your experience (Barbara), and use them to adapt to, select, and shape your environment (Celia).

Emotional intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

The ability to perceive, understand, and use emotions. The test of emotional intelligence measures overall emotional intelligence and its four components.

Handout 10 9 emotional intelligence scale

Handout 10-9: Emotional Intelligence Scale

  • This scale is designed to assess (1) the appraisal and expression of emotion in self and others, (2) the regulation of emotion in self and others, and (3) the utilization of emotion in solving problems.

  • Scoring:

    • Reverse the #s for items 5, 28, and 33. (1=5, 2=4, 3=3, 4=2, 5=1)

    • Then add the numbers in front of all 33 items.

  • Meaning of results:

    • High scale scores are associated with greater optimism, less depression, and less impulsivity

    • Means of 135 for therapists, 120 for prisoners, 131 for females, and 125 for males.

    • Some studies show EQ to be a greater predictor for future success than IQ

Intelligence and creativity

Intelligence and Creativity

Creativity is the ability to produce ideas that are both novel and valuable. It correlates somewhat with intelligence.

Expertise: A well-developed knowledge base.

Imaginative Thinking: The ability to see things in novel ways.

Adventuresome Personality: A personality that seeks new experiences rather than following the pack.

Intrinsic Motivation: A motivation to be creative from within.

A Creative Environment: A creative and supportive environment allows creativity to bloom.

Divergent Thinking: Ability to generate many different but plausible responses to a problem. (EX: What can you use a newspaper for? Paper mache object, light a fire, pad a package)



Use of mathematics to organize, summarize and interpret numerical data.

Statistical analysis is used to determine whether any relationships

or differences among the variables are significant, quantifies the exact

strength of the association.

Descriptive Statistics

Statistical Significance

Used to describe, organize

& summarize data to

make it more understandable

Used to interpret data

& draw conclusions. “What can we infer

about the pop from data gathered

from the sample?”

Central Tendency



Inferential Statistics

What is intelligence

Descriptive Statistics: Measures of Central Tendency(summarizes data set by providing a representative number)


Score that falls in the center of a distribution of scores.

When there is an even number of scores in a data set, the

median is halfway between the two middle numbers.

Best indicator of central tendency when there is a skew.

The median is unaffected by extreme scores.

Mean ∑ X/N = X

Average of scores in a distribution. Even one extreme score can change the mean radically, possibly making it less representative of the data. Most significant because additional statistical manipulations can be performed on it.


Most frequently occurring score in a distribution.

Descriptive statistics measures of variability

Descriptive Statistics: Measures of Variability

Indicate the dispersion or spread in a data set. How much the scores

in a set of data vary from:a. Each Other

b. the Mean

Tell you if the scores are very different from one another or if they

cluster around the mean.


The difference between the highest and lowest score in a set of data.

Extreme scores can radically affect the range of a data set.

Standard Deviation

Reflects the average distance between every score and the mean. Tell

You how different the scores are from the

mean. Tells you whether scores are

packed together or dispersed.




Inferential statistics

Inferential Statistics

  • While descriptive statistics summarize a data set, we often want to go beyond the data:

    • Is the world at large like my sample?

    • Are my descriptive statistics misleading?

  • Inferential statistics give probability that the sample is like the world at large.

    • Allow psychologists to infer what the data mean.

    • Assess how likely it is that group differences or correlations would exist in the population rather than occurring only due to variables associated with the chosen sample.

Statistical breakdown of intelligence

Statistical Breakdown of Intelligence

  • After researching about the intelligence of preschoolers, Philip was curious to find out how intelligent he and his friends were. He and his friends took an IQ test. The scores for the IQ test were normally distributed – the mean was 100 and the standard deviation was 15. Using this information, describe how the scores are distributed.

    • Most scores (68%) are within 15 points of the mean (of 100).

    • The typical (average, normal) IQ score falls between 85 and 115

    • Mean, median, and mode are the same or very close

Normal distribution

Normal Distribution

Statistical breakdown of intelligence1

Statistical Breakdown of Intelligence

  • The following are a list of four scores from the IQ test Philip’s friends took: 136, 95, 91, 90. If we wanted to know what the IQ of Philip’s friends is MOST like, which would be the best indicator? Mean or Median? Why?

    • X = 103 Median = 93

    • Answer = Median. The mean is affected by extreme scores.

Sample test question

Sample Test Question

  • For a language test with normally distributed scores, the mean was 70 and the standard deviation was 10.

    • How are the scores distributed?

    • Approximately what percentage of test takers scored 60 and above?

Answer to sample question

Answer to Sample Question

  • 68% of students scored between 60 and 80.

  • 84%

Skewed distribution

15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50





Mode Median Mean

One Family

Income per family in thousands of dollars

Skewed Distribution

  • An asymmetrical distribution of scores, such as a curve with a bump on the left and tail to the right or most scores are bunched to the left or right of the mean

  • The mean is the largest

  • The mode or median are smaller than the mean

  • The mean is a less useful measure; while the median is more useful

Statistical breakdown of intelligence2

Statistical Breakdown of Intelligence

  • Philip then wanted to find out if he and his friends were smarter than his dad and his dad’s friends, so he gave the IQ test to his dad and his friends. Compare the two groups of scores:

    • Philip’s group: 104, 102, 95, 91, 90, 83, 72

    • Philip’s dad’s group: 95, 93, 92, 91, 90, 89, 87

      • What can we determine about the two groups? How are they different? Similar?

        • For each of the groups, the mean = 91

        • However, the range for Philip’s group = 32; while the range for dad’s group = 8. The standard deviation for Philip’s group = ; while the range for dad’s group =

        • The groups did not perform the same. The scores in Philip’s group are much more spread out than in the dad’s group. The scores for the dad’s group tend to cluster closer to the mean

Statistical breakdown of intelligence3

Statistical Breakdown of Intelligence

  • The IQ test Philip used was recently re-normed. Why are IQ tests periodically updated?

    • Changes in knowledge require tests to be re-normed

      • People have gotten smarter (Flynn Effect)

      • The numbers of questions answered accurately has increased over the years

      • Changes that affect IQ test scores of groups (e.g. sociocultural or technological)

      • Changes in educational practices or techniques (that affect knowledge)

      • Keep material culturally relevant

    • Re-norm to maintain validity or reliability

Flynn effect

Flynn Effect

In the past 60 years, intelligence scores have risen steadily by an average of 27 points.

The following environmental changes have contributed to the change:

  • Rise of science:

    • Taught us that classifying the world using the categories of science is just as important as manipulating the world

    • Freed logic from the concrete, allowing us to work on abstractions with no concrete referents.

  • Increasing educational opportunities

  • Reduction in family size

  • Improvements in infant nutrition

  • Changing communication technologies

Principles of test construction

Principles of Test Construction

For a psychological test to be acceptable it must fulfill the following three criteria:

  • Standardization

    • Standardizing a test involves pre-testing a representative sample of people and forming a normal distribution or bell curve (most scores fall near the average, and fewer and fewer scores lie near the extremes) to establish a basis for meaningful comparison.

  • Reliability = a test is reliable when it yields consistent results

  • Validity = a test is valid when it measures what it is designed to measure.



To establish reliability researchers establish different procedures:

  • Split-half Reliability: Dividing the test into two equal halves (odds and evens) and assessing how consistent the scores are.

  • Alternate Forms Reliability: Using different forms of the test to measure consistency between them.

  • Test-Retest Reliability: Using the same test on two occasions to measure consistency. A person’s score on a test at one point in time should be similar to the score obtained by same person on a similar test at a later point in time.

  • Inter-Scoring Reliability: One scorer’s rating should be similar to another scorer’s rating



Reliability of a test does not ensure validity. Validity of a test refers to what the test is supposed to measure or predict.

  • Content Validity: Refers to the extent a test measures a particular behavior or trait of interest.

    • driving test that samples driving tasks

  • Predictive (Criterion-Related) Validity: Refers to the success of a test in predicting a particular behavior or trait it is designed to predict. Assessed by computing the correlation between test scores and the criterion behavior.

    • behavior (such as college grades) that a test (such as the SAT) is designed to predict

Types of tests intelligence tests

Types of Tests: Intelligence Tests

  • Intelligence tests measure our general potential to solve problems, think abstractly, and profit from experience.

  • Assessing Intelligence: psychologists define intelligence testing as a method for assessing an individual’s mental aptitudes and comparing them with others using numerical scores.

  • History of Intelligence Testing

    • Alfred Binet and his colleague Théodore Simon practiced a more modern form of intelligence testing by developing questions that would predict children’s future progress in the Paris school system.

  • In the US, Lewis Terman adapted Binet’s test for American school children and named the test the Stanford-Binet Test.

  • Types of tests intelligence tests1

    Types of Tests: Intelligence Tests

    • Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

      • the ratio of mental age (ma) to chronological age (ca) multiplied by 100

        • IQ = ma/ca x 100

          • EX: 8/10 x 100 = IQ of 80 for a ten year old with a mental age of 8 (does as well as the average 8-year-old).

    • Problems with the IQ Formula

      • It does not really work well on adults, why?

        • If a 60 year old man does as well as an average 30 year old, then his IQ would be 50!!! That makes no sense!


    Intelligence test wais

    Intelligence Test: WAIS

    WAIS measures overall intelligence and 11 other aspects related to intelligence that are designed to assess clinical and educational problems.

    Types of tests aptitude vs achievement

    Aptitude = A test designed to predict a person’s ability to learn a new skill (future performance.)

    College entrance exams like ACT and SAT


    Achievement = A test designed to reflect what you have already learned.

    Unit exams

    AP exam

    Types of Tests: Aptitude vs. Achievement

    The dynamics of intelligence

    The Dynamics of Intelligence

    • Mental Retardation

      • a condition of limited mental ability

      • indicated by an intelligence score below 70

      • produces difficulty in adapting to the demands of life

      • varies from mild to profound

    • Down Syndrome

      • retardation and associated physical disorders caused by an extra chromosome in one’s genetic makeup

    Is intelligence neurologically measurable

    Is Intelligence Neurologically Measurable?

    Recent Studies indicate some correlation (about +.40) between brain size and intelligence. As brain size decreases with age, scores on verbal intelligence tests also decrease.

    Nova How Smart Can We Get


    Gray matter concentration in people with high intelligence.

    Dynamics of intelligence

    Dynamics of Intelligence

    • Condition in which people with serious mental handicaps, either from retardation or major mental illness (early infantile autism or schizophrenia), have spectacular islands of ability or brilliance.

      • The syndrome is six times more common in males than females

      • Occurs in a very narrow range of skills—calendar calculating, music (almost exclusively limited to the piano), lightning calculations and mathematics, art, mechanical ability, prodigious memory, or, rarely, unusual sensory discrimination abilities (smell or touch).

      • Prodigious savant is the term reserved for those very rare persons whose special skill or ability is so outstanding that it would be spectacular even if it were to occur in a non-handicapped person.

        • Researchers estimate that there are fewer than 50 prodigious savants presently living who would meet this high threshold of special skill.

        • Findings indicate that 50 percent of savants are autistic; the remaining 50 percent suffer some other developmental disability, mental retardation, brain disease, or injury.

      • Although savants are aware of their talents, they cannot explain how they work. Alonzo Clemons, a retarded Denver man whose animal sculptures fetch upwards of $45,000, simply says God gave him his talent. Robert Black, a “calendar calculator” who can figure out the day of the week on which your birthday will fall in 3314, explains, “I got a good mind.” Bernard Rimland, director of the Institute for Child Behavior Research in San Diego, notes that “sometimes savants give explanations that are meaningful only to them— things like, ‘Because eleven.’ ”

    Dynamics of intelligence examples of savants

    Dynamics of Intelligence: Examples of Savants

    • George and his identical twin brother Charles can give you the day of the week for any date over a span of 80,000 years. Ask them to identify the years in the next two centuries in which Easter will fall on March 23 and they will give correct answers with lightning speed. The twin brothers can describe the weather on any day of their adult life. At the same time, they are unable to add or count to 30, and they cannot figure change from a $10 bill for a $6 purchase.

    • Kenneth can accurately cite the population of every U.S. city over 5000; the distance from each city or town to the largest city in its state; the names, number of rooms, and locations of 2000 leading hotels in the United States; and statistics concerning 3000 mountains and rivers. Kenneth has a mental age of 11 years and a vocabulary of 58 words.

    • Upon hearing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 for the first time in his teen years, Leslie played it back flawlessly and without hesitation. He can do the same with any other piece of music, no matter how long or complex. Leslie is severely mentally handicapped and blind, and he has cerebral palsy.

    • Ellen, also a musical genius, constructs complicated chords to accompany music she hears on the radio. She was able to repeat the soundtrack of the musical Evita after hearing it only once, transposing orchestra and chorus to her piano by using complex, precise chords, including intense dissonances, to reproduce mob and crowd noises. Like Leslie, Ellen is blind and has an intelligence score of less than 50.

    Savant syndrome

    Savant Syndrome

    Savant researchers have not been able to explain these unique abilities, although several theories have been advanced. For example, Rimland notes that underlying all savant abilities is a seemingly limitless memory. The savant’s musical ability is not in composition but rather in an uncanny ability to play back, note for note, long passages heard just once. Savant art is not remarkable for its creativity but for its realism—exact copies of animals or people or scenes done from memory. Rimland theorizes, “The reason you and I can’t multiply four digit numbers in our heads is that we get distracted. Nine times seven, carry the two—I wonder if the parking meter’s about to run out—and four sevens is— hey, how’d I get that stain on my shirt?” In contrast, savants do not have distractions; the brain is dedicated entirely to the task at hand. Treffert notes that savants possess memory that is “exceedingly deep, but very, very narrow.”

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