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Multidimensional Intelligence:
Not One, but Many

Topics in Psychology
Robert C. Gates

  • General Intelligence: g - The idea ( probably incorrect ) that intelligence is one basic trait underlying all cognitive abilities. (Spearman, 1927) According to this concept. people have varying levels of this general ability.
  • In the 60ís, Cattell & Horn differentiated fluid intelligence from crystallized intelligence:
  • Fluid intelligence: flexible reasoning and is made up of the basic mental abilities such as inductive reasoning, abstract thinking and speed of thinking required for understanding any subject.
  • Crystallized intelligence: refers to the accumulation of facts, information and knowledge that comes with education and experience within a particular culture.
  •     Originally, psychologists believed that fluid intelligence was primarily genetic and that crystallized intelligence was primarily learned. This nature-nurture distinction is probably invalid, in part because the acquisition of crystallized intelligence is affected by the quality of fluid intelligence.
  •     Fluid intelligence declines during adulthood, although this decline is temporarily masked by an increase in crystallized intelligence. This contrast is revealed in WAIS scores: verbal IQ remains relatively stable throughout adulthood, while performance IQ drops an average of 25 points.
  • Robert Sternberg has proposed that intelligence is composed of 3 distinct parts; the

    analytic / academic aspect: consists of mental processes that foster efficient learning, remembering and thinking.
    note: Multiple choice tests, with one & only one right answer reward analytic intelligence.
    creative aspect: involves the capacity to be flexible and innovative when dealing with new situations.
    practical aspect: enables the person to adapt his/her abilities to contextual demands.

  •     Most adults value practical abilities more as they grow older. Research demonstrates that practical problem solving skills improve from early adulthood to middle age, and perhaps beyond.
  •     Gardner maintains that each of his intelligences has its own neurological network in the brain; the value placed on each dimension depends on the particular cultural environment & therefore on the training of the individual and on those evaluating him or her.
        Cultures that emphasize activities that the old can do, such as yoga & tai-chi have healthier elderly people because that aspect of intelligence is still practiced.

    In review, Gardner's 8 Intellegences are:
  1. Linguistic
  2. Logical-Mathematical
  3. Musical
  4. Spatial
  5. Body-Kinesthetic
  6. Interpersonal ( social-understanding )
  7. Intrapersonal ( self understanding )
  8. Naturalistic

Human Growth & Development
Robert C. Gates