What are some major controversies in psychology

Myers - Chapter 11: Intelligence


  • 11.1 What is intelligence?
    • 11.1.1 Intelligence as a comprehensive or as different specific abilities?
    • 11.1.2 Intelligence and Creativity
    • 11.1.3 Emotional intelligence
    • 11.1.4 can intelligence be measured neurologically?
  • 11.2 Intelligence measurement
    • 11.2.1 Origins of intelligence measurement
    • 11.2.2 Modern tests of intellectual ability
    • 11.2.3 Principles of the test setup
  • 11.3 The dynamics of intelligence
    • 11.3.1 Stability or Change?
    • 11.3.2 Intelligence extremes
  • 11.4 Genetic and environmental influences on intelligence
    • 11.4.1 Twin and Adoption Studies
    • 11.4.2 Environmental influences
    • 11.4.3 Group differences in intelligence tests
    • 11.4.4 Problems of bias in intelligence tests
  • 11.5 Chapter review
    • 11.5.1 Questions of understanding
    • 11.5.2 Key Terms
    • 11.5.3 Further German literature


What is intelligence

intelligence is a social constructed conceptthat varies from culture to culture. In current intelligence research there is 2 major controversies: (1) Is it an overall skill or is it a multitude of skills? (2) Can neuroscientists locate and measure intelligence in the brain? Trying to concretize intelligence is like treating it as a real object rather than an abstract concept. Most psychologists today adhere to the following Definition of intelligence: the ability to learn from experience, solve problems and adapt to new situations.

Arguments regarding intelligence as a general mental faculty underlying all specific mental faculties are based in part on the Factor analysis. This statistical technique was used to show that mental abilities tend to cluster and that people tend to have about the same level of proficiency for all abilities in that cluster. Designated in the middle of the 20th century Charles Spearman (who, among others, developed factor analysis) this common level of intelligence as g factor. Some of today's psychologists agree with Spearman's view that we are one in common Intelligence level which can be used to predict our abilities in all other school-relevant areas.

Intelligence theories from Gardner and Sternberg:

  • Howard Gardner questions the concept of general intelligence. He hits 8 independent intelligences before: the linguistic (clever with regard to words), the logical-mathematical (clever with regard to numbers), the musical (clever with regard to music), the spatial (clever with regard to space), the physical-kinesthetic ( wise in relation to the body), the intrapersonal (wise in relation to oneself), the interpersonal (wise in relation to other people) and the intelligence related to nature (wise in relation to nature).
  • In Robert SternbergsTriarchic intelligence theory it is suggested that there are only 3 intelligences: analytical (problem solving in school), creative and practical intelligence.

The 4 components of the emotional intelligence are:

  • the abilities, To perceive emotions (recognizable in facial expressions, in music and in stories),
  • Understand emotions (predict them and indicate how they will change and merge),
  • deal with emotions (knowing how to express them in different situations) and
  • Using emotions.

Critics of the concept of emotional intelligence ask if we do not expand the concept of intelligence too much when we apply it to emotions.

creativity is the ability to generate novel, useful ideas. It correlates somewhat with intelligence, but above an IQ of 120 the correlation tends towards zero. It also correlates with expert knowledge, with imagination, with a risk-taking personality, with intrinsic motivation and with the support that comes from a creative environment. Different areas of the brain are active when we are think convergent (the kind of thinking we need to find solutions in intelligence tests) and when we divergentthink (the kind of thinking we need to come up with several imaginative solutions).

The relationship between intelligence and the anatomy of the brain: Recent studies suggest some correlation (around +0.40) between Brain size (relative to body size) and Intelligence test score down. The tendency of the brain to shrink in size in late adulthood supports this view to some extent. And autopsies on highly educated people showed an above-average volume in relation to the synapses and gray matter. But the direction of the relationship is not clear. A larger brain size can be the basis for higher intelligence; or higher intelligence can lead to experiences that exercise the brain, making more connections, and thereby increasing its size; or there is a third factor in the game.

Studies of how the brain works show that people who have a high intelligence tend to retrieve information from memory and perceive stimuli more quickly than others. These differences are also reflected in neurological studies that have shown faster brain reaction times in these individuals.

Intelligence measurement

Psychologists define that Intelligence test as a method of capturing the intellectual talents of an individual and comparing these talents based on that numerical values with those of other people. Initiated more than a century ago Alfred Binet and his co-worker Théodore Simon the movement for modern testing of intelligence. They did this by developing questions that helped predict the future progress of children in the Paris school system. Lewis Terman of Stanford University revised Binet's test for use in the United States. Terman believed that his Stanford-Binet intelligence test Can help people to appropriate professional opportunities. But he believed even more than Binet that intelligence is inherited. Unfortunately, during the early 20th century, intelligence tests were sometimes used to "demonstrate" the innate inferiority of certain ethnic and immigrant groups. Intelligence test scores were saved as Intelligence quotient (IQ) is expressed and calculated by adding the Intelligence age divided by age and multiplied by 100.

Aptitude tests are designed to predict what a person can learn. Achievement tests are designed to capture what a person has learned. The WAIS (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, German version HAWIE-R, Hamburg-Wechsler intelligence test for adults - revision 1991), an aptitude test, is the most widely used intelligence test for adults. Two similar Wechsler tests have been developed to test intelligence in preschoolers and older children. The SAT is an aptitude test, and in one study the total SAT scores and the subjects' scores correlated at a very high level in a general intelligence test: +0.82.

Normalization of a test means that the test is presented to a representative sample from the population of the subsequent test subjects in order to create a basis for meaningful test value comparisons. The distribution of many physical and psychological traits forms one Bell curve (normal distribution) - a roughly symmetrical curve in which most of the values ​​are grouped around the average, with fewer and fewer towards the extreme values. Intelligence test scores form such a curve; but in the last 6 decades the averages have increased by 27 points - a phenomenon known as Flynn effect is known.

A test is reliable if it leads to consistent results. To the Reliability To check, the researchers compare the agreement (consistency) of the subjects' scores for two halves of the test, i.e. different forms of the same test, or they test the subjects again with the same test. A test can be reliable, but not valid.

A valid test measures or predicts what to measure or predict.

  • Content validity is the extent to which a test is representative of behavior (such as a driving test that measures the ability to drive).
  • Prediction validity is the extent to which the test predicts behavior it is intended to predict (aptitude tests are predictive when they can be used to predict future performance).

Intra- and inter-individual intelligence differences

The Stability of the intelligence test scores increases with age. At the age of 4, the test values ​​fluctuate, but one can gradually predict the test values ​​in adolescence and adulthood. At around the age of 7, the test values ​​become quite stable and consistent.

If an intelligence test is valid, the two groups of people who fall below the extremes of the normal distribution curve should be significantly different; and that's them. Those with values ​​below 70, the limit for diagnosis mental retardation, vary in their abilities, from almost normal to a very low level at which they need constant help and supervision. Down syndrome is a form of retardation with a physical cause, an extra copy of chromosome 21. Contrary to popular belief, people with high test scores tend to be healthy, well adjusted, and unusually successful in school. Schools sometimes put these children in special study groups and separate them from those with lower test scores. Such programs can lead to self-fulfilling prophecy because children like to conform to the perception of their abilities.

Genetic and environmental influences on intelligence

Studies of twins, family members, and adopted children all support the view that genetic factors are significant contributors to intelligence scores. Most genetically similar people have fairly similar test scores; the correlations range from +0.85 for identical twins who grew up together to about +0.33 for people who were not related to each other who grew up together. No “genius gene” has yet been discovered, but the search is still ongoing. With Heredity of the intelligentz is the extent to which the variation in intelligence test scores in a group of people being examined is due to genetic factors. Heredity never relates to individual intelligence, but only to differences between people.

The intelligence test scores of dizygoti twins who grew up together are more similar than those of the other siblings; and the test scores of identical twins who grew up separately are less similar (although still very highly correlated) than the test scores of identical twins who grew up together. Other studies with children who grew up in extremely barren, extremely beneficial, or culturally diverse environmental situations suggest that life experiences have a significant impact on the intelligence test result.

Ethnic Similarities and Differences in Intelligence Test Scores: As a group, white Americans usually have an average score on the intelligence test that is about 8-15 points higher than that of Latin American and African American Americans. The finding suggests that this Group differences largely on Environmental differences go back. Six points are dealt with in this chapter:

  1. The ethnic groups are remarkably similar genetically.
  2. Ethnicity is a social, not a biological, category.
  3. Asian students perform better than North American students in math performance and aptitude tests.
  4. Intelligence testing performance in today's better fed, better educated, and more test prepared population is above that of the 1930 population; the difference is about the same as that between the average white and the average black in the United States today.
  5. White and black infants usually have equal scores on tests that predict future intelligence.
  6. In different eras, different ethnic groups have had periods of remarkable achievements.

Gender differences In terms of skills: This chapter describes 7 ways in which women and men differ in their skills:

  1. Girls are better at spelling.
  2. Girls have a higher fluency and can remember more words.
  3. Girls are better at finding objects.
  4. Girls are more sensitive to touch, tastes and colors.
  5. There are more boys among the underperformers than girls.
  6. Boys perform better than girls in math problem solving, while girls perform better than boys in math calculations.
  7. Women recognize emotions more easily than men.

Aptitude tests are used to predict how well the subject will perform in a certain situation in the future. This means that they are “distorted” from the outset in the sense that they react sensitively to differences in performance caused by cultural experiences. But distortion can also mean what psychologists normally understand by this term, namely that a biased test predicts less accurate results for one group than for another. With this in mind, most experts agree that the key aptitude tests are not skewed in any significant way. "Stereotype Threat" is a self-affirming worry that one is being judged on a negative stereotype. This phenomenon occurs in some cases among African Americans and women of all skin colors when intelligence is tested.