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Spearman’s Two-factor Theory of Intelligence| Two factor theory of Intelligence

Spearman’s Two-factor Theory of Intelligence


Two factor theory of Intelligence

Spearman’s Two-Factor Theory:

The English psychologist, Charles Spearman (1863-1945), in 1904 presented his theory of intelligence called two-factor theory.

According to Spearman, intellectual abilities are made up of two factors, namely:

  1. The general ability or potential is known as G-factor and
  2. The specific Abilities is known as S-factors.


The performance by the person is decided by the G-factor and the S-factors.

The total intelligence of the person is the sum total of the G-factor and the S-factors.

The performance of a specific task depends on the ‘G’ factor or general ability and the particular ‘S’ factor or specific potential.

Characteristics of ‘G’ Factor: 

  • It is universal inborn potential. 

  • It is general mental energy. 

  • It is constant. 

  • The amount of ‘g’ vary from individual to individual. 

  • It is used in every activity or part of life. 

  • Greater the ‘g’ in an person, greater is his/her success in life.

Characteristics of ‘S’ Factor: 


  • It is retained and gained in the environment. 

  • It differs from activity to activity in the same person. 

  • Individuals vary in the amount of ‘S’ ability.

‘G’ factor constitutes Native Intelligence thus when we respond to any situation or perform an intellectual task, our general mental potential or ‘G’ factor is mainly responsible or accountable for it and our specific potential in that particular task is responsible for the rest. 

There are a large number of specific abilities or potential such as ability to draw conclusion, ability to complete sentences, ability to code message etc.

Different individuals varies both in their ‘G’ as well as ‘S’ factors. 


For e.g. 

An individual’s performance in literature is somewhat due to his general intelligence and partly due some specific aptitude for his language, i.e. G+S1. 

In mathematics his performance may be the result of G+S2. 

In drawing, it may be due to G+S3 and in social sciences; it may be due to G+S4 and so on. 

Thus the factor ‘G’ is present or involved in all specific activities.

Educational Implications and importance of Spearman’s Two – Factor Theory 


1. The theory gives a better understanding to the teacher about the nature of intelligence. 

2. The general ability varies from person to person. 

3. The specific abilities also vary from Person to person. 

4. ‘S’ factor differs in degrees. Therefore, it can be changed by learning or habitual training

5. A child needs different amounts of ‘G’ and ‘S’ factors for achieving success in different Subjects. 

6. We need a high quality of ‘G’ factor for our success in life. 

7. Both ‘G’ and ‘S’ have a high association or relationship.

8. This theory can be used to guide, instruct, construction of a set of ability test.