There are many theories of intelligence but not any of them actually can define what intelligence is. We may credit people for having certain qualifications yet do these actually prove that people are intelligent? Do certain tests that have a high-standardised score mean that certain people are intelligent? Does having the ability to retain information mean you are intelligent? Do life experiences and your upbringing have an effect on how intelligent you are?
As well as devising the theories of intelligence, psychologists also devised and conducted various psychometric instruments to document and evidence their findings. This caused many discussions based on whether the tests actually measure Intelligence.
Many theories have been produced since the early twentieth century and are consistently being explored, as Intelligence is extremely hard to define.
One of the first theories relating to Intelligence and testing was by a British psychologist, Charles Spearman who supported the theory that there are two types of intelligence. One area being general intelligence (g) and the other being a number of specific abilities (s). This g factor was in charge of general execution on mental capacity tests. Spearman noticed that while individuals absolutely could and frequently excelled in specific zones, individuals who did well in one task tended additionally to do well in different tasks.
The individuals who hold this view trust that knowledge can be estimated and communicated by a solitary number, for example, an IQ score. The thought is that this hidden general insight impacts execution on every psychological errand. General insight can be contrasted with physicality. A man may be an extremely talented jumper, however this does not really imply that they will likewise be a superb football player. Be that as it may, in light of the fact that this individual is athletic and fit, they will presumably perform much preferable on other physical demands over a person who is not so much structured but rather more inert. Spearman believed that all abilities were affected by the g factor.
Thurstone another psychologist rejected this concept of general intelligence and presented his own theory in 1946. He implied that there are seven different primary mental abilities and that they are all related. See below –
Number Factor Ability Description
1 S Spatial Ability Ability to perceive spatial relations
2 P Perceptual Ability Ability to grasp visual fields
3 N Numerical Ability Ability to deal with numbers
4 V Verbal comprehension Ability to understand meaning of words
5 W Word fluency Ability to think and use words rapidly
6 M Memory Ability to remember
7 R Reasoning Ability to think logically
Thurstone identified the above abilities after creating a set of 56 tests. His wife Thelma helped him to create this test set. Then they administered this test set to 240 college students and from the results analysis, Thurstone developed the Primary Mental Abilities theory.
With the advances throughout the years into the theories of intelligence, three theorists and practicing psychologists Cattell- Horn-Carroll devised the theory known as the CHC theory. This is one of the most recent theories and it is one where it has empirically supported.
Their theory is a three-stratum theory which includes over 70 abilities at stratum 1, eight broader abilities at stratum 2 and a overall ‘g’ (general intelligence) at the peak of the hierarchy.
Cattell and Horn implied that there are two different types of intelligence. The first form – Fluid intelligence Gf) is outlined as the ability to solve new problems, use logic in new situations and identify patterns. The second form is Crystallised intelligence is outlined by the ability to use learned intelligence and experiences.
Carroll’s theory is a three stratum hierarchy model. This suggest three layers; the first base line/stratum where there are 70 narrow abilities/ factors measured, the second stratum where broad abilities including fluid intelligence, crystallized intelligence, general memory and learning, broad visual perception, broad auditory perception, broad retrieval ability, broad cognitive speediness, and processing speed are taken into account and then the third stratum where general intelligence (g) is taken into account and correlations made. Other factors that Cattell theory relied upon was the fact that nature/nurture played a huge part on a person’s intelligence.
The theory of Cattell-Horn-Carroll is an amalgamation of Cattell and Horn’s Gf-Gc model of fluid and crystallised intelligence and Carroll’s Three Stratum Hierarchy. CHC theory states that intelligence is dependent on the cultural, social, emotional experience not just on learned knowledge.
This CHC theory “has formed the foundation for most contemporary IQ tests” (Kaufman, 2009, p.91)
In relation to the case study, the theories all offer their own differing suggestions on intelligence and testing. Spearman’s theory is not suited to explain the intelligence of this case study. He states Intelligence is fixed, making the assumption that the case study performed and scored inadequately on the ‘g’ task. This makes a sweeping generalisation and comes up with the conclusion that the case study had a low intelligence. This does not take into account any factors externally for example whether on the day of testing the six year old child had any breakfast; if they were not informed prior and other factors such as their attendance at school. As the psychologist, Thorndike in 1949 suggested that other factors are important to take into consideration. Later on in life, this case study went onto to achieve which totally dispels this theory.
Linking the case study to Thurstow shows relevance as it recognises the different intelligences, however this does not show every skill and ability, which we would associate with intelligence. Another factor that needs taking into account is that the study and theory was based largely on white males from affluent backgrounds. This is not a suitable population to give valid results and this can be regarded as unethical as the research was not based on an accurate sample. The case study does not mention her ethnicity and economic background but these are factors that may have had an impact on her test results.
The CHC theory is far more applicable to the case study because it takes into account other influences that occur whether these are cultural, social and emotional experiences. It also recognises that intelligence is learnt and accrues over time. With the case study, being tested at the age of 6 and being placed into a specialist provision rather than mainstream, this would have had an negative impact on this young person’s self-esteem and self-confidence. However, throughout her lifetime the case study achieved success in some areas of her life this completely substantiates the CHC theory of crystallised intelligence as life experiences have increased her intelligence. The case study allows us to identify the stages of the theory with regard to development happening over time, primarily that fluid intelligence develops and peaks during youth and crystallised intelligence matures in adulthood.
At the time of the testing, which is, over fifty years ago, the testing methods would not have been based on current theories exploring multiple intelligences, therefore various factors during the actual testing were not taken into account. For example, the environment the testing actually occurred in – was the temperature suitable, the lighting may have been dimly lit therefore she may not have been able to see the paper efficiently; her mental health at the time of the test – she may have woken late, missed breakfast and this will have the impact of arriving at school hungry and flustered, unprepared for a test. These factors must all be taken into deliberation when using psychometric tests of intelligence and ability.
The responsibility of the assessor is fundamental in being observant in their methodology to testing and having the awareness, that intelligence cannot be measured by the use of one single test. The assessor is accountable for guaranteeing that all users are “are treated fairly and without bias during testing sessions to obtain a fair and accurate indicator of measures of intelligence (Hogg & Vaughan, 1995).
The reliability and validity of measuring a six-year child to determine her intelligence must be questioned as to whether it is a true representation of her intelligence. Given the circumstances surrounding the child, the use of suitable test materials is vital for the validity of making huge assumptions and having the outcome of being labelled unintelligent.
Based on the case study it is implied that only one single measure of intelligence was assessed without any reflection of the background information being considered. In order for the individual to be assessed, all issues relating to the case study must be explored. Therefore to ensure a relevant profile is explored, it is important to include all issues pertaining to the individual for example social issues and other difficulties that the child may be experiencing.
The emotional well-being of the case study were not considered, this is unfair and unethical. Based on this the case studies emotional development may have been a huge factor later on in life. This is evident in the case study as it had a big impact later on in their adulthood. Strategies and support should have been provided so that weaknesses could have been dealt with as well as looking at the case studies strengths in order to alleviate the stress and low self-esteem and self-confidence of the case study.
Using numerous assessments of intelligence and not just those tests that consider language/linguistic skills and mathematical capabilities, the case study may have had more confidence in skills that were not tested and screened. If these further assessments and testing had been performed, the case study may have had more success earlier on in their life rather than discovering them in adulthood. This would have had a huge impact on the emotional development in terms of confidence and self-esteem and the case study would have realised the strengths that they had and utilised them. The fact that the case study was labelled was detrimental and ultimately disadvantaged the case study.
If the case study were to be tested in the present day, it would be more reliable, ethical, and informative with strategies and support sought as well as ethical. Tests carried out over forty years ago were carried out on white males from affluent socio-economic background; they were not suitable for a six-year-old girl. We must make sure prior to testing the child, that the information collected gives a true insight into the child. Using school data as well as lesson observations will provide relevant informative evidence and be less damaging to a child psychologically if the whole story is known regarding the child, instead of relying purely on test results.
Testing intelligence has its benefits; it can help identify areas of strengths as well as areas of weakness. This however is dependent on the tests that have been used but we must be