Below are given a few definitions of intelligence to explain what intelligence is:

Definitions of Intelligence:

Benet who devised an intelligence test for the first time never gave a formal definition of intelligence. His scales originated not from a if nil theory of intelligence but from a research to discover individual difference.

To him intelligence seemed to be the result of a complex interaction of higher mental processes and with this idea in mind he believed that intelligence could be measured by an extensive sampling of many kinds of test items.


L.M. Term an, states that intelligence is the ability to do abstract thinking.


Intelligence has been investigated from different approaches. Notable among them are psychometric approach and information possessing approach which are as under:

Psychometric approach:

This approach (the psychology of dealing with the measurement of differences among people) endeavours to measure differences in intellectual abilities. In its opinion, intelligence is the ability to learn in an abstract manner or to think or adapt to his or her environment.


On an analysis of this definition it becomes clear that there is found certain degrees of relationships among learning ability, abstract thought and adaptability.

This reflects the close agreement among young psychometricians about Intel I agency as intellectual ability involving several related mental operations such as abstract thought, learning ability and adaptability shown as under:

Psychometric Approach:

Among the theories of intelligence, there is two- factor theory and the multifactor theory:


1. The two-factor theory of intelligence:

It states that all human intellectual abilities have in common a general factor.

Superman’s theory is an example. He calls the general factor the ‘g’ factor. He describes it as the mental energy involved in all mental activities. He adds the specific factor’s in intelligence which is specific to a task.

2. The multifactor theory of intelligence:


It describes intelligence in terms of separate factor or underlying specific abilities. Thurston’s and Guilford’s theories are examples of this type. Their description is as under: Thurston’s theory of primary mental abilities: This theory states that the under mentioned nine factors make up intelligence and each is involved in several intellectual operations.

  • Numerical factor (ability for mathematical operations)
  • Space factor (ability for manipulating objects in space)


Cognition Memory

1. Divergent thinking Convergent thinking Evaluation

2. Guilford’s Description of Intelligence Consisting 4*5*6= 120 factors


3. Verbal comprehension factor (ability for verbal comprehension)

4. Word fluency factor (ability to think or to infer rules)

5. Rate memory factor (ability for memorization)

6. General reasoning factor


7. Deduction factor (to deduce from rules and principles to specific)

8. Induction factor (to infer from specific to general) and

9. Perceptual speed factor.

Guilford has described intelligence in terms of three independent dimensions, those of content, operations and products when five forms of operations – cognition, memory, divergent thinking, convergent thinking and evaluation – operate upon four forms of content – figural, symbolic, semantic and behavioural and six forms of products – units, classes, relations, systems, transformations and implications – are produced. These together make up (4x5x6) 120 factors.

In the late nineteen eighties, a fifth content (auditory) has been added making a total of 150 factors.

Information Processing Approach:

The psychometricians view intelligence as intellectual abilities. However on the contrary to it the information processing group (psychology that deals with the way the mind processes information and formation of thought processes) goes one step further as it lays emphasis on the cognitive processes underlying the intellectual abilities.

Cognitive processes consist of various processes of the mind such as memory, seasoning, visualization, problem solving, etc. For instance, Robert Sternberg’s Diarchic Theory to understand the information processing view of intelligence is as under:

1. Performance Component:

This component refers to the cognitive process involved in performing a task or solving a problem. For example the student is asked to solve a problem ‘Cauliflower is a vegetable as cow is to what?’ The performance components consist of the following:

(a) Encoding:

We place the information about the problem (task example) in the memory.

(b) Inferring:

It refers to the relations in the problem statement (as cauliflower and cow in the above mentioned example). We infer the relation between cauliflower and cow.

(c) Mapping:

This refers to higher order relations. We relate the relations between cauliflower and vegetable to cow and mammal to arrive at the solution.

(d) Response:

We state the answer-mammal.

2. Knowledge Acquisition Component:

This refers to the meaningful acquisition of new information by relating the information (relation between cauliflower and vegetable or cow and mammal) to the prior knowledge in the mind.

3. Meta Component (Knowledge about one’s own thinking):

It refers to live one directs one’s own thinking i.e. the way in which one directs one’s thinking to understand the problem and choose its solution.