Intelligence (Objectives)

From Chapter 10 of David G. Myer's "Psychology", 10e, pages 366-401.
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10-1: How is intelligence defined?
Intelligence is a mental quality consisting of the ability to learn from experience, solve problems, and use knowledge to adapt to new situations. An intelligence test aims to assess these qualities and compare them with those of others, using a numerical score.
10-2: What are the arguments for and against considering intelligence as one general mental ability?
Charles Spearman proposed that we have one general intelligence (g). He helped develop factor analysis, a statistical procedure that identifies clusters of related mental abilities. L. L. Thurstone disagreed and identified seven different clusters of mental abilities. Yet a tendency remained for high scorers in one cluster to score high in other clusters. Studies indicate that g scores are most predictive in novel situations and do not much correlate with skills in evolutionarily familiar situations.
10-3: How do Gardner's and Sternberg's theories of multiple intelligences differ?
Savant syndrome seems to support Howard Gardner's view that we have multiple intelligences. He proposed eight independent intelligences: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, intrapersonal, interpersonal, and naturalist. Robert Sternberg's triarchic theory proposes three intelligence areas that predict real-world skills: analytical (academic problem-solving), creative, and practical.
10-4: What is creativity, and what fosters it?
Creativity, the ability to produce novel and valuable ideas, correlates somewhat with intelligence, but beyond an IQ score of 120, that correlation dwindles. Sternberg has proposed that creativity has five components: expertise; imaginative thinking skills; a venturesome personality; intrinsic motivation; and a creative environment that sparks, supports, and refines creative ideas.
10-5: What are the four components of emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence, which is an aspect of social intelligence, is the ability to perceive, understand, manage, and use emotions. Emotionally intelligent people achieve greater personal and professional success. Some critics question whether calling these abilities "intelligence" stretches that concept too far.
10-6: To what extent is intelligence related to brain anatomy?
Some studies have found a positive correlation between intelligence score and brain size and activity, especially in the frontal and parietal lobes. Ample gray matter and white matter enable efficient communication between brain circuits.
10-7: To what extent is intelligence related to neural processing speed?
People who score high on intelligence tests tend also to have agile brains that score high in speed of perception and speed of neural processing. The direction of correlation has not been determined, and some third factor may influence both intelligence and processing speed.
10-8: When and why were intelligence tests created?
In the late 1800s, Francis Galton, who believed that genius was inherited, attempted but failed to construct a simple intelligence test. In France in 1904, Alfred Binet, who tended toward an environmental explanation of intelligence differences, started the modern intelligence-testing movement by developing questions that helped predict children's future progress in the Paris school system. During the early twentieth century, Lewis Terman of Stanford University revised Binet's work for use in the United States. Terman believed intelligence is inherited, and he thought his Stanford-Binet could help guide people toward appropriate opportunities. During this period, intelligence tests were sometimes used to "document" scientists' assumptions about the innate inferiority of certain ethnic and immigrant groups.
10-9: What's the difference between achievement and aptitude tests?
Achievement tests are designed to assess what you have learned. Aptitude tests are designed to predict what you can learn. The WAIS (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale), an aptitude test, is the most widely used intelligence test for adults.
10-10: What are standardization and the normal curve?
Standardization establishes a basis for meaningful score comparisons by giving a test to a representative sample of future test-takers. The distribution of test scores often forms a normal (bell-shaped) curve around the central average score, with fewer and fewer scores at the extremes.
10-11: What are reliability and validity?
Reliability is the extent to which a test yields consistent results (on two halves of the test, or when people are retested). Validity is the extent to which a test measures or predicts what it is supposed to. A test has content validity if it samples the pertinent behavior (as a driving test measures driving ability). It has predictive validity if it predicts a behavior it was designed to predict. (Aptitude tests have predictive ability if they can predict future achievements.)
10-12: How stable are intelligence scores over the life span?
Cross-sectional studies (comparing people of different ages) and longitudinal studies (retesting the same cohort over a period of years) have shown that fluid intelligence declines in older adults, in part because neural processing slows. Crystallized intelligence tends to increase. The stability of intelligence test scores increases with age. At age 4, scores fluctuate somewhat but begin to predict adolescent and adult scores. By early adolescence, scores are very stable and predictive.
10-13: What are the traits of those at the low and high intelligence extremes?
An intelligence test score of or below 70 is one diagnostic criterion for the diagnosis of intellectual disability (others are limited conceptual, social, and practical skills). People with this diagnosis vary from near-normal to requiring constant aid and supervision. Down syndrome is a developmental disorder caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21. High-scoring people tend to be healthy and well-adjusted, as well as unusually successful academically. Schools sometimes "track" such children, separating them from students with lower scores. Such programs can become self-fulfilling prophecies as both groups live up to—or down to—others' perceptions and expectations.
10-14: What evidence points to a genetic influence on intelligence, and what is heritability?
Studies of twins, family members, and adoptees indicate a significant hereditary contribution to intelligence scores. Intelligence seems to be polygenetic, and researchers are searching for genes that exert an influence. Heritability is the proportion of variation among individuals that can be attributed to genes.
10-15: What does evidence reveal about environmental influences on intelligence?
Studies of twins, family members, and adoptees also provide evidence of environmental influences. Test scores of identical twins raised apart are slightly less similar (though still very highly correlated) than the scores of identical twins raised together. Studies of children reared in extremely impoverished environments with minimal social interaction indicate that life experiences can significantly influence intelligence test performance. No evidence supports the idea that normal, healthy children can be molded into geniuses by growing up in an exceptionally enriched environment.
10-16: How and why do the genders differ in mental ability scores?
Males and females tend to have the same average intelligence test scores. They differ in some specific abilities. Girls are better spellers, more verbally fluent, better at locating objects, better at detecting emotions, and more sensitive to touch, taste, and color. Boys outperform girls at spatial ability and related mathematics, though girls outperform boys in math computation. Boys also outnumber girls at the low and high extremes of mental abilities. Psychologists debate evolutionary, brain-based, and cultural explanations of such gender differences.
10-17: How and why do racial and ethnic groups differ in mental ability scores?
As a group, American Whites have scored higher than their Hispanic and Black counterparts; this gap was wider a half-century ago than it is now. The evidence suggests that environmental differences are largely, perhaps entirely responsible for these group differences.
10-18: Are intelligence tests inappropriately biased?
Aptitude tests aim to predict how well a test-taker will perform in a given situation. So they are necessarily "biased" in the sense that they are sensitive to performance differences caused by cultural experience. By "inappropriately biased," psychologists mean that a test predicts less accurately for one group than for another. In this sense, most experts consider the major aptitude tests unbiased. Stereotype threat, a self-confirming concern that one will be evaluated based on a negative stereotype, affects performance on all kinds of tests.
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