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Spearman’s Model of Intelligence

Intelligence is an overall capacity for learning and problem solving. Basically, it is single, pure ability, which varies in amount. It differentiates the individual’s behavior as a whole because it is composed of elements or capabilities, which are qualitatively differentiable. By measuring these abilities, we ultimately assess intelligence (David Wechsler, 1944). The present paper explains comparisons and contrasts of Spearman’s Model of Intelligence and Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences and which model is more in line with psychology today. There are two major approaches to defining intelligence.

One group looks at the factors of which intelligence is composed. Another group looks at the nature of intellectual processes themselves. Charles Spearman initiated the use of factor analysis in the field of psychology and is sometimes attributed with the discovery of factor analysis. He developed a model where all variation in intelligence test scores can be explained by two factors. The first is the factor specific to an individual mental task: the individual abilities that would make a person more skilled at one cognitive task than another.

The second is g, a general factor that governs performance on all cognitive tasks (David Wechsler, 1944). Though spearman’s theory of intelligence is simple but it ignored group factors in test scores (such as spatial visualization, memory and verbal ability) that may also be found through factor analysis. In 1983, Howard Gardner has proposed a theory of multiple intelligences according to which intelligence comprises not just a single entity, but also multiple ones, including linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, and naturalist intelligences.

In developing his theory, Gardner (1983) attempted to set right some of the errors of earlier psychologists who failed to come to grips with the higher levels of creativeness. Gardner do not situate talents completely within the human skull, preferring to interpret all accomplishments as an interaction between cognitive potentials on the one hand, and the resources and chances provided by the surrounding culture on the other. For example, when we write notes, we use linguistic intelligence. Gardner has also described the reality of existential and spiritual intelligences.

For Gardner, each of these multiple intelligences is more or less independent of the others. The concept of G faced many disagreements. The late Stephen Jay Gould, his objections to the G factor theory. Several scientists now believe that there is no single measure of intellectual ability (Philip Kitcher, 1985). Spearman (1904) administered many altered kinds of test on cognitive ability. Correlations of these tests were positive. The basic idea of factor analysis is to compute correlation coefficients among the various sub tests one has decided to include in an intelligence test (Morgan, 1981).

But Gardner considered various kinds of facts about how the mind is well thought-out. Gardner also disapproved g. His theory was criticized on the basis of non-standard assessment techniques. Where as Spearman’s model of intelligence continues to be influential today. Generally speaking, intelligence tests that yield a single score are built on this theoretical foundation. The accretion of cognitive testing data and development in analytical techniques have conserved g’s central role and led to the modern conception of g (Carroll, 1993).

A number of factors with g are presently the most broadly established model of cognitive ability. There is a strong correlation Elementary cognitive tasks and g. IQ tests, made their tests as g-loaded as possible. Historically, this has meant dampening the influence of group factors by testing as wide a range of mental tasks as possible. However, Raven’s Progressive Matrices are measured to be the most g-loaded in existence, even though Raven’s is quite uniform in the types of tasks comprising it. IQ tests that measure a wide range of abilities do not predict much better than g.

Finally, it is concluded that intelligence is the ability that are regarded as by difficulty, complexity, abstractness, adaptability to a goal, social value, and the emergence of originals, and to maintain such activities under conditions that demand a concentration of energy and a resistance to emotional forces (George D. Stoddard, 1943). At present human intelligence is measured by Factor analysis as a method for comparing the outcomes of objective tests and to construct matrices.


1) George D. Stoddard. 1943. The Meaning of Intelligence; Publisher: Macmillan. Place of Publication: New York; Page Number: 4. 2) David Wechsler. 1944. The Measurement of Adult Intelligence. Publisher: Williams & Wilkins. Place of Publication: Baltimore, MD. Page Number: 4. 3) Spearman, C. 1904. “General intelligence” objectively determined and measured. American Journal of Psychology, 201-293. 4) Morgan Clifford T, King Richard A. , Robinson Nancy M. 1981. Introduction to Psychology; Sixth Edition; Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Company Limited, Pg: 486-487. 5) Gardner, H. 1983. Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.

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