Intelligence Theories Essay

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Charles Spearman and his General Intelligence Theory

Spearman, a British psychologist, noted that individuals whose score on one mental ability test was excellent tended to maintain an impressive score in other tests as well (Nevid, 2012). On the other hand, those whose score on one cognitive test was unimpressive tended to perform badly in other tests administered. It is on the strength of this observation that Spearman concluded that being a general cognitive ability, intelligence could be expressed numerically or measured. In the words of Nevid (2012, p. 247), "he reasoned there must be an underlying general factor of intelligence that allows people to do well on mental tests, a factor he labeled 'g' for general intelligence."

It is, however, important to note that Spearman was also convinced that in addition to "g," intelligence included some other abilities that contributed "to performance on individual tests" (Nevid, 2012, p. 274). For instance, as Nevid further points out, the performance of an individual in a test on arithmetic could be dependent on both the general intelligence of the concerned individual and his or her math abilities. Some of the intelligence tests that were developed to measure Spearman's "g" include, but they are not limited to Wichsler and SBIS scales (Nevid, 2012).

Luis Thurstone and his Primary Mental Abilities

Thurstone's intelligence theory differs from that of Spearman on one key front -- it did not view intelligence as a general ability. He was not convinced that a single, dominating, and general factor could "account for intelligence" (Nevid, 2012, p. 274). According to Thurstone (as cited in Comer and Gould, 2012, p. 352), "intelligence is made up of seven distinct mental abilities: verbal comprehension, word fluency, numerical skill, spatial ability, associative memory, perceptual speed,…

Sources Used in Document:


Comer, R. & Gould, E. (2012). Psychology Around Us (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Nevid, J. (2012). Psychology: Concepts and Applications (4th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Stenberg, R. (2008). Cognitive Psychology (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Weiner, I.B. (2012). Handbook of Psychology (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

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