The question of human intelligence and how it’s measured has intrigued scientists and scholars for a very long time.
Human intelligence in its entirety is multifaceted and quite intriguing as it encompasses a wide spectrum of cognitive abilities, making people excel at various fields from arts to medicine.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, intelligence is the mental quality that consists of the ability to learn from experience, adapt to new situations, understand and handle abstract concepts, and use knowledge to manipulate one’s environment.
The multifaceted approach to human intelligence can be better acknowledged in musical, spatial, interpersonal, and intra-personal intelligence, among others.
Understanding this concept not only helps individuals appreciate human intelligence but also helps psychologists and scholars to accurately cater to individual strengths and aptitudes.
Theories of Intelligence
1. Charles Spearman’s Two-factor Theory of Intelligence
He brought about the concept of general intelligence called the ”g” factor by analysing different mental aptitudes and cognitive tests given by the participants.
Spearman proposed that intelligence consists of two factors, the”g” factor (general ability) and ”s” factor (specific ability), where the ”g” factor is involved in every general mental ability task of the person, and the ”s” factor is responsible for only the specific intellectual abilities of the person.
2. Binet’s IQ Test
The Stanford-Binet test is a measure of general intelligence made up of a wide variety of tasks including vocabulary, memory for pictures, naming of familiar objects, following commands, etc.
It measures skills such as judgment, comprehension, and reasoning and primarily yields an overall score referred to as an intelligence quotient or IQ.
The term IQ generally describes a score on a test that rates the subject’s cognitive ability as compared to the general population.
3. Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Human Intelligence
It measures three types of intelligence; analytical intelligence, creative intelligence, and practical intelligence.
He argued that to successfully measure human intelligence, one must find a balance in all three types of intelligence.
4. Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences
This suggests that there are multiple types of intelligence, including linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intra-personal, and naturalist intelligence.
How to Measure Human Intelligence
Some of the ways we measure human intelligence include:
1. IQ Tests
IQ tests or Intelligence Quotient tests have been a benchmark for measuring human intelligence for over a century.
IQ tests are useful in assessing human cognitive abilities, problem-solving skills, and general knowledge.
They do this by providing a numerical score that represents an individual’s intellectual potential.
The general breakdown for IQ classification are:
>Below 70: Extremely low
>70-84: Borderline intellectual functioning
>85-114: Average IQ
>115-129: Above average
>145 and above: Highly gifted or genius
2. Emotional Intelligence
Unlike IQ tests that measure cognitive abilities amongst others, EQ (Emotional Intelligence) measures one’s capacity to understand, manage, and navigate the emotions of both themselves and others.
People with high EQ are skilled at building relationships, and being able to succeed in various aspects of life due to their high level of emotional awareness.
High EQ individuals are usually empathetic leaders, effective communicators, and conflict resolvers amongst others. Those with low EQ are usually individuals who are socially awkward, hot-tempered, and insensitive or inconsiderate.
Neuroimaging refers to various techniques used to visualise and study the structure and function of the brain.
Some common neuroimaging methods include Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Functional MRI (fMRI), Positron Emission Tomography (PET), and Computed Tomography (CT) scans.
Neuroimaging aims to help researchers and healthcare professionals better understand the anatomy of the brain and how it functions, which aids in the proper diagnosis and treatment of various neurological conditions.
Advancements in neuroscience such as Brain Imaging Techniques like Functional MRI (fMRI) have allowed us to explore the basis of intelligence, biologically, by observing patterns of brain activity linked with various cognitive tasks.
By analysing brain structures and their connectivity, scientists have been able to gain insights into the neural foundations of intelligence, exploring the relationship between brain physiology and cognitive abilities.
4. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
We are in the age of artificial intelligence and machine learning which has completely changed how we view the world, and measuring human intelligence is not left out.
AI and Machine learning models can be trained to assess human intelligence.
Some of the ways through which this can be done are:
- Cognitive Assessment: AI and machine learning can be used to create digital cognitive assessment tools that explore various aspects of human intelligence, such as memory, problem-solving and reasoning, thus providing quantitative measures of an individual’s cognitive abilities.
- Natural Language Processing (NLP): NLP techniques gauge linguistic and communication skills, which are primarily linked with intelligence. They do so by analyzing text, speech, or written responses in cognitive tests.
- Behavioural Analysis: AI-driven behavioural analysis tools can help study human interactions and decision-making to find intelligence-related traits, such as emotional intelligence or social intelligence.
- Gaming and Simulation: AI can design games and simulations that challenge cognitive abilities, providing a dynamic and interactive way to measure intelligence.
Challenges and Solutions to Measuring Human Intelligence
Measuring human intelligence is not as easy as we would like it, hence it comes with certain challenges that can be overcome.
1. Cultural Bias
Challenge: Many intelligence tests are culturally biased, favouring individuals from specific cultural backgrounds.
For example, language and verbal bias which relies heavily on language and vocabulary skills.
So if a test is written in a language or uses vocabulary that is unfamiliar to a particular cultural group, individuals from that group may not perform well due to language barriers.
2. Socioeconomic Bias
Challenge: For example, questions related to financial investments or art appreciation may be biased against those with limited exposure to such concepts.
Solution: Developing culturally fair assessments that use universal elements and avoid language or context specific to one culture is crucial to providing a balance.
3. Multiple Intelligences
Challenge: Human intelligence is multifaceted, and traditional IQ tests may not capture all aspects.
Challenges in measuring multiple intelligences include the bias of traditional IQ tests towards linguistic and logical-mathematical skills and the difficulty of designing valid assessments for each intelligence.
Solution: It is important to consider and assess a broader array of intelligences, as proposed by Howard Gardner, and use a combination of tests to assess different dimensions to better measure diverse talents and abilities individuals possess.
4. Environmental Factors
Challenge: Differences in educational backgrounds, socioeconomic status, nutrition, and health can pose a significant challenge to measuring human intelligence.
Solution: It is important to use culturally fair tests, practice continuous assessment, provide awareness and training, consider the broader context of an individual’s environment, and promote interventions that support cognitive development in all populations.
Measuring human intelligence is quite important as it helps us to understand and harness the full potential of individuals.
Its benefits can be seen in all aspects of life, ranging from education to career success, and individual growth.
While measuring human intelligence does not come without challenges, the insights provided into overcoming these challenges can go a long way in helping us get a more accurate and equitable evaluation of human intelligence.
Researched by Olukotun Joan