Psychology, Sixth Edition
Cognitive ability is the capacity to perform higher mental processes of reasoning, remembering,
understanding, and problem solving. (see introductory section)
Intelligence, according to Sternberg's working definition, is the combination of three characteristics: the possession
of knowledge, the ability to use information processing to reason about the
world, and the ability to employ that reasoning adaptively in different environments.
Note, however, that psychologists do not agree on an exact definition of intelligence.
(see Testing for Intelligence)
- The Stanford-Binet test was a revised version of Binet's original test of cognitive abilities. Each set of age-graded questions could be answered correctly by a substantial majority
of the children in that age group. Children were above average if they could
correctly answer questions above their age grade. The score received, called
mental age, was divided by chronological age and then multiplied by 100, resulting in an IQ. (see
A Brief History of Intelligence Tests)
Example: Mark's IQ has been tested. Although he is only twelve, he answered questions designed
for children up to fourteen years of age. The following steps are used to determine his IQ.
- Mark's mental age is fourteen.
- Mark's chronological age is twelve.
- 14/12 = 1.16
- 1.16 100 = 116.
- Mark's IQ is 116.
IQ tests are any tests designed to measure intelligence on an objective, standardized
scale. (see A Brief History of Intelligence Tests)
Intelligence quotient (or IQ score) reflects relative standing on a test within a population of the same age
group. IQ values reflect how far each score deviates from the age-group average.
(see Intelligence Tests Today)
- An aptitude test is designed to measure a person's capacity to learn certain things or perform certain tasks. (see Aptitude
and Achievement Tests)
- An achievement test measures what a person has accomplished or learned in a particular area.
(see Aptitude and Achievement Tests)
Tests are systematic procedures for observing behavior in a standard situation.
Behavior is described with the help of a numerical scale or a category system.
(see Measuring the Quality of Tests)
Example: To give a test in a standard situation, the directions, setting, and scoring
methods used are the same regardless of the people involved. An example of
a numerical scale would be the calculation of an IQ.
Norms are descriptions of the frequency of particular scores. Norms provide information
about how a certain person's test score compares to the population upon which the norms are based. (see
Measuring the Quality of Tests)
- A test that has reliability is one whose results will be consistent or stable over repeated test occasions.
Example: Each time Connie takes an intelligence test, she scores at the mean for
her age group.
- A test that shows validity is one that measures exactly what it is designed to measure. (see Validity)
Example: Defining a list of words is a valid test of vocabulary but may not be a
valid test of intelligence.
- The psychometric approach is a method for analyzing test scores in order to describe the structure
of intelligence. Psychologists have examined correlations of test scores
in order to find the skills and talents that define intelligence. (see The
REMEMBER:Psych means "mental." Metric means to "measure." Those who use the psychometric approach study measures (test scores) of
mental functions (in this case, intelligence).
- General intelligence, called g, is a representation of general mental ability or intelligence. (see The Psychometric Approach)
- Special intelligence, called s, is a representation of special intelligences. Specific information and skills needed for a particular task are s-factors. (see The Psychometric Approach)
Example: A person with a high level of g might still answer a mathematics question
incorrectly if the person lacked the necessary s-factors.
Fluid intelligence is the basic power of reasoning and problem solving. It produces deduction,
induction, reasoning, and understanding of the relationships between different
ideas. (see The Psychometric Approach)
Example: To be a good detective, you must be able to look at all the available clues
and deduce "who done it." The powers of deduction and reasoning represent fluid intelligence. (Read
the example of crystallized intelligence, Key Term 16, to understand the difference between the two types.)
Crystallized intelligence involves specific knowledge gained as a result of applying fluid intelligence.
It produces verbal comprehension and skill at manipulating numbers. (see The Psychometric Approach)
Example: Detectives who have been working for a long time have gained specific knowledge
about how to read clues and people. An experienced detective may be able
to examine the scene of a crime and notice clues that tell her when the crime took place. This specific knowledge (crystallized intelligence) gained
from previous experience (previous applications of fluid intelligence) will
increase her overall chances of solving the crime.
- The information-processing approach studies intelligence by examining the mental processes that underlie intelligent
behavior. (see The Information-Processing Approach)
Example: A psychologist using this approach to study intelligence would ask the following
types of questions: What influence does effective chunking ability have on intelligent
behavior? Does being able to rapidly access information in long-term memory
increase the ability to behave intelligently? (Chunking and accessing long-term
memory are ways of processing information.)
- The triarchic theory of intelligence deals with three types of intelligence. Analytic intelligence is traditional,
academically oriented ability. Creative intelligence is the ability to produce
novel but effective solutions to problems or situations. Practical intelligence deals
with adapting to or shaping the environment when correct answers may not
necessarily exist. (see The Triarchic Theory of Intelligence)
- The multiple intelligences theory says that people have eight different categories of abilities or
intelligence: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, body-kinesthetic,
intrapersonal, interpersonal, and naturalistic. (see Multiple Intelligences)
Creativity is the ability to generate novel but viable or workable solutions to a problem.
Divergent thinking, characteristic of creative people, is the ability to think along many alternative paths to generate many different solutions to a problem.
Example: Consider the following question: What can you use a newspaper for? Answers
that relate to gaining information or news represent convergent thinking. Answers that are examples of divergent thinking include using newspapers to
create a papier-mâché object, to light a fire, to pad a package, to cover oneself for warmth,
to provide insulation from noise, to stuff shoes so that they keep their
shape, to make a higher seat for a short child, to make a toy for a cat, to make an airplane,
to wrap a box, to train a puppy, to humidify the air (by draping wet newspapers
over a radiator), to make a ransom note (by cutting out letters from a newspaper),
and to soak up water (by putting newspapers in wet shoes).
Convergent thinking is the ability to apply the rules of logic and knowledge about the world
to reduce the number of possible solutions to a problem. (see Creativity)
Metacognition is the knowledge of what strategies to apply, when to apply them, and how
to deploy them in new situations so that new specific knowledge can be gained
and different problems can be mastered. (see Unusual Cognitive Ability)