What is Intelligence?

Intelligence is the key attribute used to understand how individuals differ from each other and how people adapt their behavior to their surroundings.

  • The Oxford Dictionary defines intelligence as the power of perceiving, learning, understanding and knowing.
  •  Alfred Binet was one of the first psychologists who worked on intelligence. He explained intelligence as the ability to judge well, understand well and reason well.
  •  Wechsler defined intelligence in terms of its functionality. He defined intelligence as the global and aggregate capacity of an individual to think rationally, act purposefully and deal effectively with his or her environment.
  •  According to Howard Gardner and Robert Sternberg, intelligence comprises of mental abilities which are important for adaptation to as well as shaping and selection of any environmental context. Gardner said that intelligence can be considered as the ability to solve a problem or to shape products in such a manner so that it values one or more cultural settings.

Elements of Intelligence:

  • Direction: The ability or skill to set up or create a goal and work towards it.
  •  Comprehension: The skill or ability to have a basic knowledge of what exactly the problem is.
  •  Adaptability: The ability or skill to make essential adjustments in order to solve a problem.
  •  Self-evaluation: The skill or ability of understanding whether the individual has been able to solve the problem correctly.

Assessments of Intelligence

In 1905Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon made the first successful attempt to measure intelligence. Later in 1908, they gave the concepts of:

  •  Mental Age or MA– this is the measure of a person’s intellectual development relative to people of his/her age group.
  •  Chronological Age or CA– this is the biological age of the individual from birth.
  1. For a bright child, the MA is more than his/her CA. whereas, for a dull child, the MA is below the CA. retardation was explained by Binet and Simon as being 2 mental ages below the chronological age.
  2. In 1912, William Stern, a well-known German psychologist, introduced the concept of Intelligence Quotient or I.Q. It refers to the mental age divided by the chronological age and then divided by 100.
  3. I.Q.=MA/CA*100
  4. 100 acts as the multiplier in order to avoid the decimal point. When MA equals the CA then the I.Q. equals 100. If MA is more than 100 then it means the I.Q. is also above 100. If the MA is lower than 100 then the I.Q. is lower than 100.

Variations of Intelligence

  • Intellectual deficiency
  1.  The American Association on Mental Deficiency (AAMD) defines intellectual disability as significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period. 
  2.  Individuals having I.Q. below 70 are considered to have sub-average intelligence.
  3.  Adaptive behavior refers to an individual’s ability to be independent and deal effectively with his/her surroundings. A person with intellectual deficiency has deficits in adaptive behavior.
  4.  All these deficits are observed during the developmental period i.e from 0-18 years.
  5.  Mild disability (IQs 55 to approx. 70)- development of individuals is slower than that of peers, they can function independently, hold jobs and families.
  6.  Moderate disability (IQs 35-40 to approx. 50-55)- individuals lag behind their peers, require moderate supervision, motor and language skills are not adequately developed.
  7.  Severe disability (IQs 25 to approx. 35-40)- individuals are unable to manage life and need constant care.
  8.  Profound disability (IQs below 25)- individuals cannot be independent and they require constant care and supervision for their entire lives.
  •  Intellectual Giftedness
  1.  Individuals with IQs above 130 are considered as intellectually gifted individuals.
  2.  Giftedness refers to the exceptional general ability exhibited in superior performance in a wide variety of areas. Intellectually gifted individuals show high abilityhigh creativity and high commitment.
  3. To equate giftedness with great academic performance is not right. Some important characteristic features of gifted individuals are as follows-
  • Advanced logical thinking, questioning and problem-solving behavior. Quick processing of information.
  •  Exceptional generalisation and discrimination skills.
  •  Higher level of original and creative thinking. Advanced level of internal motivation and self-esteem.
  •  Independent and non-conformist thinking and a preference for solitary academic activities for long periods of time.

Emotional Intelligence

  1.  It is a set of skills that determine accurate appraisalexpression and emotional control. It may be considered as the feeling side of intelligence. 
  2.  An exceptional IQ and a good a good academic record isn’t enough to be successful in life. Psychologists believe that emotional intelligence is important for managing family, workplace issues and interpersonal relationships.
  3.  Salovey and Mayer first devised the concept of Emotional Intelligence. According to them, emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor one’s own and other’s emotions, to discriminate among them and to use the information to guide one’s thinking and actions.
  4.  Emotional Quotient or E.Q. is used to express emotional intelligence in the same manner as I.Q. is used to express intelligence. Improving student’s emotional intelligence has many beneficial effects on their academic achievements. They inspire cooperative behavior, reduce anti-social activities, enhances support and prepares students to face the challenges of life outside the classroom.
  5.  Features of emotionally intelligent persons:
  •  Sensitivity towards one’s own as well as others’ feelings and emotions. 
  •  Relating emotions to thoughts and using them to solve problems.
  •  Knowledge regarding the influence and nature of one’s own emotions.
  •  Control and regulation of emotions while dealing with self and others.