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Assess the extent to which theories of intelligence explain intelligent behaviour

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Assess the extent to which theories of intelligence explain intelligent behaviour (2000) words In 1905, the first intelligence test was published by Binet (1905). Since then, many psychologists wondered what exactly it was that Binet was testing and have devised countless theories and debates on the definition and nature of intelligence. There are definitions from organisations and from individual psychologists which are all similar, yet fundamentally different. Sternberg (1987) demonstrates this point with the quote; "Viewed narrowly, there seem to be almost as many definitions of intelligence as there were experts asked to define it". As well as definitions, many different theories of intelligence have emerged too. The theories can be divided up into two different groups, depending on the way that they are explaining intelligence. The groups are factor analytic theories, which analyse scores on intelligence tests, and information processing theories which believe that intelligent behaviour is made up of a series of steps and how quick you can go through them. The first factor analytic theory of intelligence to surface was developed by Spearman, and he called it a 'two factor theory' (Spearman 1904). It is arguably the most influential approach to intelligence with the most supporters. Unlike other theorists however, he doesn't appear to attempt to define intelligence, but regards it as just 'cognitive ability'. To create the theory, he gave self constructed, 6 part intelligence tests to Hampshire schoolchildren and factor analysed their results. ...read more.


He put (g) at the top and below the concepts of fluid (skill, judgement etc) and crystallised intelligence (knowledge). Below these he put Spearman's (s) factors. He believed that intelligent behaviour was a mixture of displaying your speed and skill and the ability to learn and retain information. With such problematic results gained from factor theorists, information processing theories began to emerge. The most famous is arguably Gardner's theory. He defined intelligence as "a psychobiological potential to solve problems or fashion products that are valued in at least one cultural context." (Gardner, 1983). He believed that intelligent behaviour was the ability to solve problems and create new ideas for society. After years of research failed to support the notion of IQ, he published the book 'Theory of Multiple Intelligences' (MI Theory) as presented in Frames of Mind (1983). The book had one main principle which was to explain that intelligence is a collection of multiple, separate intelligences that interact. All humans possess these intelligences although no two humans share an identical mix of intelligences. Each of the intelligences reside in a different area of the brain Gardner proposed that there are 8 intelligences, which are labelled as an intelligence when they meet specific criteria such as potential isolation by brain damage and an evolutionary history plausibility. His intelligences comprise of the usual standard intelligences such as logical-mathematical, spatial and linguistic, but also added musical and bodily-kinaesthetic. ...read more.


There are three subcatagories of the contextual theory. The first is adaptation which is being good at adapting to new places (being able to adjust yourself to the new surroundings) the second is shaping, which is the capability to change the environment to suit your needs. The third is selection, which is finding a completely new alternate environment to replace the previous, unsatisfying environment to meet the individual's goals. Sternberg believed that the effectiveness to which an individual fits to their environment and copes with daily demands reflects their degree of intelligence. Successful intelligence is the ability to think analytically, creatively and practically (Sternberg 1998). However, psychologists argue that he is just explaining a person's style of behaviour. It just shows aspects of their personality, as in a situation there may be no right or wrong method, just a choice. All the theories discussed have their own distinct way of explaining intelligent behaviour, some more effectively than others. Factor theorists such as Spearman have a lot of problems with the nature of factor analysis and need to settle on an agreement as to how to do the calculations involved and how detailed they need to be and information processing theorists must be clearer about their definitions and have better evidence as to why there are so many different intelligences. It may be most beneficial to stop arguing over definitions and use the research to benefit society. Nevertheless, the topic of intelligence has proved to be a constantly evolving, vibrant field, and the breadth of research has expanded rapidly over the past 30 years, hopefully with more success. ...read more.

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