Lesson Nine: Intelligence

An Overview of Intelligence

Brain representing human intelligence
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Welcome to lesson nine of the Introduction to Psychology course! You've almost reached the end of the series, but there is still plenty to learn. After exploring personality in lesson eight, it is time to delve into another popular, and sometimes controversial, subject. In this lesson, we will take a closer look at intelligence.

Intelligence encompasses a number of mental abilities such as reasoning, planning and problem-solving.

The topic of intelligence is one of the biggest and most debated in psychology. Learn more about some of the many theories of intelligence, the history of intelligence testing and much more.

Syllabus for this week:

  • Theories of intelligence
  • Influences on intelligence
  • History of IQ testing
  • Fluid and crystallized intelligence
  • Multiple intelligences

Click the links below to read the articles and resources related to each topic in this lesson. There are no homework assignments or quizzes in this lesson, so it is up to you to ensure that you read, study and understand the materials included in this lesson.

Theories of Intelligence

What is intelligence? There are plenty of theories out there, yet psychologists still do not agree on a standard definition of intelligence. Some thinkers have suggested that intelligence can be viewed as a general mental ability while others propose that there are actually different types of intelligence.

Learn more in this overview of some of the best-known theories of intelligence.

Factors That Impact Intelligence

Is intelligence a product of genetics, experience or the interaction of both? Psychologists not only disagree about exactly what constitutes intelligence, they also continue to disagree about the various factors that influence an individual's intelligence.

Today, most agree that nature and nurture both have an impact, but the degree to which genetics and environment influence intelligence remains a matter of considerable debate. Learn more about some of the major influences on intelligence.

The Development of Intelligence Tests

The measurement of intelligence has been a controversial subject ever since psychologist Alfred Binet developed the first formal IQ test. Today, many modern intelligence tests are still based upon Binet's original assessment. In addition to debating how to measure intelligence, concerns are also centered on exactly how these results are put to use. Learn more in this overview of the history of intelligence testing.

Fluid and Crystallized Intelligence

Psychologist Raymond Cattell suggested that there are two different types of intelligence: fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence. Learn more about the differences between fluid and crystallized intelligence .

Multiple Intelligences

Is intelligence a single capacity, or does it encompass a range of abilities?

According to the theory of multiple intelligences, we do not possess just one intellectual capacity, but instead have many different intelligences including musical, interpersonal, spatial-visual and linguistic intelligences. Learn more about the multiple intelligences.

Final Thoughts

You've now reached the end of lesson nine! Do you feel like you have a solid understanding of intelligence? Then you are ready to move on to lesson ten in the series. If you feel like you need a little extra time and study, take as long as you want to reread and review the material included in this lesson.

Intelligence is just one of the major topics studied within the field of cognitive psychology. If you enjoyed learning about this topic, then you might also be interested in other areas such as memory, problem-solving and creativity.


Next: Lesson 10

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