Intelligence in general terms is considered to be an individual capacity of understanding, planning, knowledge, learning, emotion, logic, creativity and problem-solving approach. Intelligence is the ability to sense information and retain knowledge for its application towards personal adaptive behaviour within a particular context or environment (Reich, Zautra & Hall, 2010). As per historical knowledge, word intelligence is derived from Latin word ‘intelligere’ meaning to perceive or comprehend. There are many accepted definitions in psychology that define intelligence. Out of these definitions, Alfred Binet quotation is most appreciated defining intelligence as “Judgement of practical and good sense initiative the ability of oneself adopting to circumstances” (Comer & Gould, 2010). According to Dong, Seo & Bartol (2014) study, David Wechsler describes intelligence as a global ability of a person to think rationally, act purposefully and manage environment effectively. As per psychology experts the out of various approaches the psychometric approach is the best method to measure intelligence (Reich, Zautra & Hall, 2010).
The intelligence perception is a phenomenon that helps to construct reality by linking humans to their environment and understanding the environment around them. However, intelligence perception is a complex and controversial area of psychological studies that is directly or indirectly affected by a various range of factors and reasons at different intelligence levels (Comer & Gould, 2010). Some of these reasons are psychobiology, social psychology and individual differences. This essay is a critical analysis of psychology of intelligence involving psychobiology, social psychology and individual differences describing their impact on the psychology of intelligence.
Psychology of intelligence
The concept of intelligence psychology involves different viewpoint from the different psychologist as per their level of intelligence. Hagger-Johnson et al. (2012) studied about an account on intelligence provided by American Psychological Association. As per this study, people differ in their ability to understand, adapt, learn and engage in various aspects of taking thoughts, reasoning and making a decision. In contrast, these people are substantial and not completely consistent because their performance may vary as per occasion, environment, domains and other factors. Therefore, there can never be a single concept that defines intelligence and organise this complex phenomenon. Further, Uher (2013) indicated the concept of considering intelligence as an umbrella that encompasses a wide range of cognitive qualities of the individual. However, other conceptualises intelligence as a separate cognitive ability that attributes personal intelligence.
According to Qualter, Barlow & Stylianou (2011), the contemporary studies on the psychology of intelligence consider psychometric analysis as an essential tool to understand the impact of individual difference, psychobiology and other aspects of individual intelligence. The IQ test is considered to be most accurate psychometric analysis to detect the level of individual intelligence. This IQ test helps determining analytical, verbal and mathematical abilities. William Stern (German psychologist) in the twentieth century introduced the term IQ test (intelligence quotient). However, the use of psychometric techniques to measure intelligence is the most controversial area of psychology where expert denied this concept indicating the role of environment and genetics on intelligence.
Further, Uher (2013) studied about human intelligence, indicating that it as a human intellectual prowess denoted by a high level of self-awareness, motivation and cognition. Intelligence is a cognitive process that helps to think, learn, reason, understand and apply knowledge. This indicates that intelligence is a complex phenomenon of psychology that is manipulated and diversified by the different viewpoint.
Historical perspectives and theories of intelligence psychology
From the times of getting the term intelligence to understanding the concept of intelligence and measuring intelligence has been the most controversial topic of psychology. Since ancient times psychologist has provided different concepts and definitions that describe intelligence but these definitions or viewpoint considerable differ from each other from one theory to another (Bjorklund & Causey, 2017). According to Saklofske et al. (2012) studies, Charles Spearman (1863-1945) introduced the g factor (general intelligence) theory that is a psychometric approach for measuring individual intelligence on the different range of cognitive abilities. As per this theory, cognitive abilities are connected factors, where people giving a good score of one cognitive ability test also tend to score well for another cognitive ability. Hence, as per Spearman intelligence is considered to be a general cognitive ability of any individual. In contrast, Louis Thurstone considered intelligence as the outcome of seven different mental abilities of humans. These seven abilities were verbal skills, reasoning, verbal comprehension, numerical ability, associative memory, perceptual speed, associative memory and spatial visualisation. Hence, Louis rejected the perception of intelligence being a general cognitive ability.
Further, Staudinger & Gluck (2011) studied the multiple intelligence theory provided by Howard Gardner rejects the numerical measurement of human intelligence as per cognitive abilities. Instead, psychologist described eight different intelligence accepted in different cultures. These are visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, logical-mathematical, visual-linguistic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalistic intelligence. Uher (2013) studied the Triarchic Theory provided by Robert Sternberg where intelligence is considered as mental ability to select, shape, adapt and accommodate one’s life as per real world situations. The intelligence here is considered a combination of analytics (problem-solving ability), creativity (capability to deal with situations) and practicality (ability to adapt as per environmental changes). This indicates that psychology of intelligence is really a complex subject of psychology that is manipulated and constructed as per different level of intelligence of psychologist. Even the cotemporary technique of IQ testing for intelligence determination is a controversial matter due to questions like intelligence being a single or multiple abilities, psychobiological aspects of intelligence (inheritance or adaptive), the validity of IQ score etc.
Psychobiology of intelligence
The psychobiology of intelligence is considered to be the most wondering query in psychological studies because intelligence varies from person to person and factors that lead to this individual difference can be genetic or environmental. This query is still not resolved because intelligence can fluctuate due to both of the above factors and scientific studies support both possibilities. However, psychobiology of intelligence clear claim that intelligence is surely inherited from parents but it is manipulated by environmental factors like society, personality etc. (Bjorklund & Causey, 2017). According to Wingo et al. (2010), human intelligence persists ability to learn from its existing environmental factors, understand concepts, apply knowledge and modify accordingly. This discriminates the grown intelligence from his or her inherited intelligence.
Yucel et al. (2012) indicated that the psychological concept provided in different theories is based on the hypothetical phenomena like cognitive process, mental status or cognitive interaction. However, psychobiological theories follow the phenomenon of reductionists, which believes that real understanding of intelligence is possible only through its biological basis. However, other advocacy by psychologist rejects this phenomenon by indicating that it is not completely possible that children belonging to same parents have a similar level of intelligence. Woodberry et al. (2010) indicated that biological mutation is also part of inheritance further; genes get manipulated due to internal situations of the body. These reasons assure that intelligence is not purely based on genetic factors.
According to Blair & Raver (2012), the measurable psychological factors clearly support biological phenomenon of intelligence. For example- good glucose metabolism rate assures good intelligence, large brain size as per biology indicates more intelligence. However, none of these factors is only responsible for intelligence. Further, Cornoldi (2010) studies of intelligence psychobiology discriminate intelligence in two categories that are fluid intelligence and crystallised intelligence. The fluid intelligence is influenced by environmental situations whereas crystallised intelligence is clearly inherited in genes of humans. The experiment supporting this fact is twins reared in the similar environment have similar IQ rather than twins bought up in the different environment. Both crystalline and fluid intelligence makes individual capable to perform.
Del Missier, Mantyla & Bruine de Bruin (2010) studied g factor (general intelligence) in animals and plants (non-humans) as a proof to support the biological basis of intelligence. Research using the observational and interactive tools like social learning, habit, innovation and response in non humans confirm that 47% of intelligence in inherited biologically and 55-60% varies according to environmental factors. These findings support the IQ variance accepted in case of the human g factor. Further, Uher (2013) studies a research where the psychometric test of IQ identification was used to detect biological basis of intelligence. In this research, 158 IQ-related genes were studied indicating that all these genes are observed to be present in seven regions of chromosome X and chromosome 7 of humans. The biological pathways were used to detect these genes. These biological pathways were demonstrated as human intelligence pathway maps in psychobiological studies.
Eisenberg, Spinrad & Eggum (2010) studied the distinction between ‘nurture’ and ‘nature’ provided by Galton as per which intelligence is an adaptive assumption that is the combination of environment + genes = behaviour. As per Galton’s theory, genetic heritability assessment of intelligence is possible through three main types of studies on intelligence psychology of family, twins and adoption that clearly helps to discriminate between the influence of nature and nurture on intelligence. As per this study, three studies on family, twin and adoption clearly discriminates between the genetic basis and environmental influence of intelligence. Further, Friedman & Miyake (2017) studies the IQ concordance rates of different human combinations to analyse the impact of behavioural and heritability genetics on humans. As per this research, 87% of IQ results were similar in single person tested twice, 55% similarity in fraternal twins living together, 86% in identical twins living together, 40% in parents and children living together, 0% in adopted children reared together and people living apart. According to Schellenberg (2011), psychobiological factors that affect intelligence are food, prenatal influence, habits, education, family up-bringing and behavior. Brody & Hall (2010) indicated that male and female intelligence level is similar as per psychobiological studies, therefore, gender difference is a social factor that does not discriminate intelligence. Lastly, psychobiological studies related to intelligence are still very complicated and unpredictable supporting different viewpoint yet it is assured that genes or inheritance is a very important part of intelligence as well as other cognitive factors in humans.
Social psychology of intelligence
The intelligence and social are two very distinct terms but as intelligence is considered as an individual personality, performance and perspective development, therefore it also plays a major role in social psychology. The term social here involves all the physical and emotional environmental aspects that influence intelligence irrespective of psychobiological basis. This means the environmental factors like places, food, culture, situations etc. develop the social intelligence of any individual (Bjorklund & Causey, 2017).
According to De Manzano et al. (2013) studies social intelligence involves our views, experience and involvement in the world around us. This social factor completely discriminates humans from the other non-human intelligence. This means that social psychology is only studied in humans. There is no studies or research that provide information about social intelligence in plants and animals.
Carver & Connor-Smith (2010) studied the sociocultural theory where it is mentioned that social factors either influence or transform the cognition and development of the individual. These social factors help to understand the nurture impact on development as per Galton’s theory. As per sociocultural theory, the cognitive abilities of children are developed as per their social interactions, culture and relationships whereas adults provide their experience in form of scaffolding to improve the social intelligence of children. Silvia & Nusbaum (2011) studied a survey performed in school going children of Kenya about their knowledge on herbal medicine that is a gift of their location but this location lacked westernised schools. The survey findings indicated that children of this region were having good knowledge of their herbal medicine but they lacked other vocabulary skills and contemporary knowledge. This indicated that social structure highly influences the intelligence of children.
According to Laborde et al. (2014) studies, culture has a very direct impact on social intelligence of the individual. In fact, the social intelligence, attitude and personality of individual vary from one culture to another. The Japanese, Asian, American and Taiwanese children shared different cultural basis and show variability in their social intelligence. In a research, it was observed that American children had less mathematical and logical intelligence because their mother’s helped them to perform homework and school task. Further, it was observed that Latino families had a huge respect for their family values that was also noticeable in social attitude of their children as well. Further, Carver & Connor-Smith (2010) studied that social status also influences the IQ score because birth weight, home environment and financial status also influence the intelligence of people. 70% of people living below the poverty line had a low level of IQ compared to people above poverty line due to healthy lifestyle, positive environment and opportunities to develop intelligence.
According to Eisenberg, Spinrad & Eggum (2010) studies social psychology of intelligence is a collaboration of social, emotional and general intelligence. The social intelligence (SI) of the individual is considered as their ability to handle social situations and relationships. Social intelligence is the collaboration of social beliefs, values, attitude and aptitude. It is considered as the qualitative interpersonal intelligence of people. Further, Silvia & Nusbaum (2011) indicated that social intelligence varies from person to person as well as it generally grows with age and experience. In contrast Friedman et al. (2011) indicated that social intelligence is not the part of general human intelligence rather it is people skill to develop behaviour, habit, attitude etc. as per their environment because an infant just born has nil social intelligence. However, Laborde et al. (2011) contradicted by indicating that general intelligence like education, personality etc. are also developed as per learning after birth. Therefore still the social intelligence is considered as qualitative part of intelligence as per multiple intelligence theory.
After social intelligence, Emotional Intelligence (EI) is another special part of intelligence psychological studies because this section describes the emotions, feelings, behaviour and mental competency of any individual. The high EI score describes good mental health, powerful social skills, performance and awareness. The good EI score support general intelligence because 95% people having good EI persist good QI score (Comer & Gould, 2010). Further, general intelligence as per social psychology involves motivation, cognition and self-awareness that describe individual capability to learn, logic, reason, practice, apply and recognize. Hence, human intelligence is the collaboration of social, emotional and general intelligence as per social psychology. There are criticism and contradictory viewpoint related to the social psychology of intelligence. But, studies on emotional, social and general intelligence hold a powerful approach to explaining human intelligence in a satisfactory manner (Comer & Gould, 2010).
Individual difference perspectives of intelligence
In the studies of contemporary psychology, individual differences determine the psychological differences and similarities between people related to one particular criterion. This has become a subject of interest because psychological differences are most complicated part of our structured society (Breedlove, Watson & Rosenzweig, 2010). The Individual difference is a highly concentrated topic of interest while describing intelligence as well. The studies of intelligence origins, structure and outcomes are highly dependent on researches related to individual differences (Comer & Gould, 2010).
According to Eisenberg, Spinrad & Eggum (2010), historical studies related to intelligence psychology ignored the difference in performance levels of individuals but the emergence of psychometric intelligence research surprisingly highlighted the concept of individual difference. The contemporary psychologist clearly discriminate individual intelligence difference using psychometric techniques. The Galton idea of general intelligence gave birth to g factor followed by Spearman who discovered intelligence theory using this g factor. Further, the emergence of hierarchical structure and group factors supported the studies of individual differences in psychology. Further, intelligence testing along with correlation interpretation allowed population intelligence survey.
Laborde et al. (2014) studied the intelligence differences as per ageing or in different stages of life. Intelligence and ageing have been quite interesting study material for the psychologist, especially in Britain. As per a survey performed in Scotland involving a mental test of people between their age of 11 to 80 the findings indicated half variance to be stable. The findings strongly supported that intelligence varies across the lifetime. Further, Friedman et al. (2011) studied the psychobiological factor that is responsible for the difference in intelligence at 11 and 80 age. This gene is e4 allele APOE gene, this gene was recognized functional at 80 but not at 11. Carver & Connor-Smith (2010) also highlighted that white-matter of brain structure that shows a difference from childhood to adulthood is also related to intelligence. The adults having a more developed white matter of brain were observed to be more intelligent. Further, Laborde et al. (2011) indicated that males with symmetrical facial structures had successful IQ score in old ages. These studies indicate that people show the difference in their intelligence as per their biological features.
Laborde et al. (2014) opine that individual difference in academic outcomes of educational performance is a very strong evidence supporting individual intelligence difference researches. One of the most popular techniques to test individual difference is the determination of intellectual competence (IC). This IC is considered to be the individual capacity to consume knowledge within its lifespan. The intellectual competence is considered to be a collaborative test of abilities, personality traits and self-assessment of intelligence. Ina survey IC analysis was performed on university students where it was observed that student with higher fluid intelligence had limited academic performance whereas students with higher crystallised intelligence showed better academic performance. This survey clearly supports the fact that different personality traits show a difference in intelligence level. Hence, people with different personality hold the difference in intelligence level.
According to studies of Uher (2013) demonstrated that individual behavior analysis is another determinant that helps to determine the difference in the performance level of people. This behavioural analysis is performed in three major aspects that are working memory, processing speed and learning. As per this research, behavioural analysis holds a promising approach to study individual difference perspective related to intelligence. Out of all the three domains, intelligence and working memory are highly connected because WM capacity and fluid intelligence are considered to be directly proportional where good working memory indicate good intelligence score. It is previously been studied that working memory differs from person to person therefore, intelligence can also be considered as a fluctuating factor depending on working memory.
Further, Friedman et al. (2011) studied surveys performed on the different group of people regarding intelligence. As per test to determine intelligence difference among males and females, in traditional times it was believed that males were more intelligent than females. But contemporary psychological studies clearly confirm that both genders share an average or equal level of intelligence. However, gender differences are observed in certain specific abilities like mathematical reasoning and verbal abilities but these don’t fluctuate the average intelligence. Further, Laborde et al. (2011) studied that intelligence difference in different races is another matter of psychometric analysis in the study of intelligence. The most basic IQ test is performed on the population of America to determine intelligence in different races. As per IQ score, Asian American and Asian outscored White American whereas White American outscored Black American. The immigrants persist a lower level of IQ than non-immigrants. This indicates that individual definitely shares the difference in the level of intelligence due to various factors like genetic, environmental, cultural etc. that help to shape intelligence.
Intelligence as per above study is an individual competent factor that is highly influenced by the psychobiology, social psychology and other associated factors of any individual. There are various traditional and contemporary theories as well as concepts that try their best to explain the psychology of human intelligence. As per above study, the g factor, Spearman’s general intelligence and Louis seven abilities theories are most widely accepted as per psychology of intelligence. Further, as per psychobiology of intelligence g factor, genes, mutation, nature and nurture are few concepts that describe the psychobiology of intelligence.
The social psychology of human involves culture, emotions, experience and relationships that affect the human intelligence. These factors also lead to the difference in individual perspectives related to intelligence. The individual intelligence highly varies from person to person as per their age, social environment, culture, psychobiology and many other factors. The IC and IQ are most workable analytical methods to detect intelligence. However, after so much of research still, there are loopholes in the study of intelligence psychology that require further experiments and research.
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