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Theories of Intelligence in Psychology | Theories of Intelligence b.ed notes


Theories of Intelligence b.ed notes 

The theory of intelligence means the systematic explanation of the nature and structure of intelligence. Many psychologists have done many analytical studies to know the nature and structure of intelligence. The main objective of this type of studies was to find out the elements on factors of intelligence, So that the complex process of intelligence can be understood in a better way.

Theories of intelligence are often classified based on the number of factors they postulate. These are called Factorial Theories of Intelligence.

Psychologists who propound these causal theories are divided into two classes- Humpers and Splitters. The psychologists of the Pindak class accept intelligence as a general or organized ability, whereas the psychologists of the divisive class see intelligence as many separate abilities.


Theories of Intelligence in Psychology 

Some major causal theories of intelligence can be listed as follows:

1. Unit Factor Theory

2. Two Factors Theory

3. Multi-Factors Theory

4. Group-Factors Theory

1. Unit Factor Theory

The one factor theory of intelligence is an ancient theory and this theory was very popular for the first thirty-five years of the development of tests to measure intelligence. According to this theory, intelligence works as an indivisible unit through which all mental activities are initiated, completed and controlled. Psychologists like Binet, Terman and Stern had supported this theory, but modern psychologists have almost rejected this theory over time. As a result, it is now seen as a classical and outdated theory of intelligence.

2. Two Factors Theory


The two-factor theory was propounded by the English psychologist Spearman in 1904.

Spearman said that intelligence is made up of two types of factors. These two types of factors are respectively, There are general ability factors and specific ability factors. He named the general ability factor as G-factor and said that it is an innate ability. It is common because it is required to perform all types of activities. G-factor is present in different quantities in different people.

G-factor is used more in daily life activities.

Spearman has named the specific ability factor as S-Factor. Unlike G-factor, S-factor is a set of specific abilities. The S-factor is an acquired ability. Different types of mental tasks require different specific abilities. Various special abilities are present in different quantities in any person.

For example, G-factor definitely plays an important role in mental activities of both numerical calculation and word flow. But along with this, it is also very important to have numerical ability to perform tasks related to numerical calculations and verbal ability to have verbal fluency. It is clear that both G-factor and S factor together provide a person with the ability to complete any mental task. Spearman has called G-factor the real mental power, because it is necessary and important for all mental activities.

3. Multi-Factor Theory


Thorndike had propounded the multifactor theory of intelligence. According to this theory, intelligence is made up of many independent factors. Each of these independent factors partially represents a specific mental ability.

Many such small factors together help a person in completing any mental task. Different types of mental tasks require different sets of these small factors. If any two mental tasks are related to each other, then according to the multi-factor theory, it is because some factors are common in performing both the mental tasks. This theory does not accept the existence of any factor like general intelligence. This theory of Thorndike actually appears to be a molecular theory of intelligence. Thorndike also acknowledged that some mental There are many elements common in the activities, due to which it can be beneficial from practical point of view to keep such mental activities in one category and give them a specific name. Semantics, word flow, calculation, memory etc. can be some such categories of mental activities.

4. Group-Factor Theory

Spearman's two-factor theory and Thorndike's multifactor theory present two completely opposite views regarding intelligence. The coordination between the intelligence principles propounded by these two is the group-factor principle.


According to Thurston's group-factor theory, intelligence is not primarily determined by a common factor but is made up of innumerable subtle and specific elements. Rather, it is made up of some primary factors. According to him, there is one primary factor common in similar mental activities which integrates all those activities from psychological and functional point of view and this primary factor makes clear the difference between those activities from other mental activities. In this way some mental activities form a group, In which any one primary factor or group factor plays a role. 

In some other group of mental activities there is another primary factor and in some third group there is a third factor. In this way, there are many groups of mental activities and each group has a different primary factor, which provides coordination and comprehensiveness to the activities of the group and makes them a functioning unit. These primary factors are separate and independent from each other.

Thurston and his colleagues, using a statistical technique called factor analysis, discovered six primary factors, which they called Primary Mental Ability.

(Group-Factor Theory of Intelligence)


N- Numerical Factor

V- Verbal Factor

S- Spatial Factor

W- Word Fluency

R- Reasoning Factor

M - Memory Factor

In every complex mental work, good work requires some or the other, that is why Thurston has called these primary mental abilities, but in doing any mental work, some of these factors are used more than in doing any other mental work.



Intelligence is a holistic ability with the help of which a person takes purposeful action, thinks rationally and adjusts effectively with the environment, that is, intelligence is considered to be the sum of many types of abilities.

Intelligence is the ability to understand those actions which are complex, difficult, abstract, economical adaptive towards some goal, social and original and to perform such actions in certain circumstances which shows concentration of power and resistance to emotional factors.

Intelligence is considered to be a complete set of cognitive behaviors which reflects a person's ability to solve problems through understanding, ability to adjust to new situations, ability to think abstractly and ability to benefit from experiences.