The Concept of Intelligence in Psychology

While studying psychology, you will learn that intelligence has caused significant interest to most psychologists.

There is no universal definition of intelligence; there is much debate about what is actually meant by this term. Is intelligence a general ability or is it several independent systems? Is it a characteristic of the brain, behavior, or is it both?

Intelligence is primarily a term in Psychology that generally refers to mental abilities, problem solving skills, abstract thoughts, etc. This capability is expressed in many aspects of the human life. Intelligence is comprised of various mental processes which include: memory, learning, perception, decision making, thinking and understanding.

According to the early researches of the American psychologist L.L. Thurston, intellectual ability can be reduced to 7 factors, which he called primary mental abilities. All of them were of great importance in solving complex intellectual tasks. Every factor is indicated by a single letter of the alphabet:

  1.  W-factor is the ability to express emotion which manifests in the richness of the individual’s vocabulary as well as their ability to communicate fluently.
  2. V-factor, or the ability to understand verbally formulated sentences, is crucial in learning from books.
  3. N-factor, the numerical factor, is the ability to easily and successfully perform operation of numbers, particularly at the elementary computing level. This factor does not mean the ability to solve mathematical problems.
  4.  S-factor, the special or spatial factor, is the ability to represent and imagine spatial relationships as well as changes in relationships.
  5. M-factor, the memory factor, represents the ability to maintain and retrieve information.
  6. P-factor, perceptual factor, consists of the ability to quickly perceive objects and their characteristics.
  7. R-factor, factor of reasoning, is the ability to understand relationships and problem solve. This factor has the most important role in all intelligent operations.

Intelligence is measured with intelligence tests which measures intellectual (mental) ability. Intelligence tests are a chosen set of standardized tasks that were previously established. They are used to make important decisions in human life.

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