Intelligence Estimation Theories and Methods

Subject: Psychology
Pages: 7
Words: 1840
Reading time:
7 min
Study level: Bachelor


Accurate estimation of intelligence is an important issue for the society. However, in order to estimate intelligence the most important aspect is numerical markings related to the use of intelligence tests. This study evaluates the different theories on intelligence and evaluates the numerical marking possibilities of each theory. If most of the theories indicate towards numerical markings, then it can be safely stated that accurate estimation of intelligence is possible and intelligence can be accurately measured.

How Accurately Can We Estimate Intelligence?

In the sphere of psychological studies, intelligence of a person is one of the most important aspects. Intelligence includes all the abilities that are related with mind. If we look at the intelligence theories then we will have direct divisions, several theories related with “single intelligence” or the type of intelligence that is constructed on the uni-linear concept about general intelligence. Some others are related with multiple factors of intelligence. However, in order to estimate intelligence accurately, it is important to evaluate all the major intelligence theories and amalgamate them into a single linear concept that would be able to estimate intelligence accurately. This would be possible if intelligence can be measured in numerical values. Thus, we would evaluate whether if the theories are subjected to numerical representation or not. If numerical representation is possible then it can be stated that it is possible to estimate intelligence accurately.


Francis Galton proposed that “intelligence is a true, biological mental facility that can be measured with the help of a person’s reaction time while doing different jobs” (Goertzel and Wang, 2007). Another philosopher, Alfred Binet, proposed that intelligence is “a median average of dissimilar abilities” (Miller, Vandome and McBrewster, 2010). There are some differences between the researchers regarding intelligence, some say that intelligence is a single and general mental ability that guides a person; while others believe that it encompasses a number of emotions. However, estimating intelligence is a prime necessity. In accordance to Crano and Seyranian, (2009) “it is reasonable to expect that individuals prefer comparators similar to themselves” (Crano and Seyranian, 2009). This is only possible when intelligence can be estimated to encourage grouping or layer system in order to enhance fair competition, which is fundamentally good for the society. Thus, estimating intelligence is important and to properly estimate intelligence it is important to understand the theories of intelligence.

General Intelligence Theory by Charles Spearman

The renowned British psychologist Charles Spearman conceptualized general intelligence or “the G Factor” (Miller, Vandome and McBrewster, 2010). To propose the theory, he used a technique which is called “factor analysis” (Miller, Vandome and McBrewster, 2010). It is basically a collection of mental aptitude tests. After conducting all the tests he found that the marks in the tests are remarkably similar. “The person who has performed well in a test is generally tended to perform better in other tests” (Miller, Vandome and McBrewster, 2010). On the other hand, the persons who have scored badly in a test, generally performs badly in an overall context. This has made him believe that intelligence is basically a general cognitive attitude which can be both numerically measured and expressed. This is one of the most important theories of intelligence and it clearly suggests that under this theory it is possible to estimate intelligence accurately as the result reflects in numerical units.

PASS Theory

One of the alternatives of the general intelligence is the PASS Theory. It is basically a description of some neuro-psychological processes. This can be also termed as a one-dimensional model, designed for persons with mental disabilities. The theory basically covers distinct aspects. The first component is Planning. The process includes the actions of decision making, problem solving and different types of performing activities. Some times goal settings are also included in the process. The second is Attention Component. This can also be called as arousal component. The different processes in the aspect involve works like ignoring different distractions that occur in a work process, and even the process of maintaining vigilance in different cases. Other important aspects are like observing different relationship and responding to the relationships, and finally successful mixing with the environment (Miller, Vandome and McBrewster, 2010).

Thus, part of this theory suggests that it is possible to estimate intelligence accurately and the planning portion can be evaluated in numerical units at any given time. Thus, PASS theory suggests that it is possible to estimate intelligence accurately.

Primary Mental Abilities

The theory was proposed by Louis L. Thrustone. This was a different take on the contemporary theories of intelligence. Unlike the general theories of single and most important general ability, his theory focused on seven aspects of intelligence and together they are called “primary mental abilities” (Miller, Vandome and McBrewster, 2010). The different elements are “Verbal Comprehension, Reasoning, Perpetual Speed, Numerical Abilities, Fluency of Words, Associated Memory and Spatial Visualization “(Miller, Vandome and McBrewster, 2010). All these components can be evaluated and numerically charted, thus estimation of intelligence accurately is possible.

Multiple Intelligences

One of the recent theories regarding intelligence is the “Theory of Multiple Intelligence” (Furnham et al 2009). This theory was proposed by Howard Gardner. In the case, he proposed that the numerical intelligences can not be termed as full and accurate description of a person’s intellectual abilities. Rather they can be a short manifestation of all the intelligent abilities of the person (Furnham et al 2009). According to him there are mainly eight distinctive abilities that can be measured to get the full intellectual capacity of a person. They are

Visual-spatial Intelligence, Verbal and linguishtical intelligence, Kinetic intelligence that is directly associated with the body, Logical and subsequent mathematical intelligence, Interpersonal intelligence, which is one of the main ingredients of the personal communicative abilities, Musical intelligence, Intra personal intelligence and Naturalistic Intelligence (Miller, Vandome and McBrewster, 2010).

It is obvious that all the components are not verifiable under numeric evaluation. Thus, under this theory, estimation of intelligence accurately is not possible.

Triarchic Theory of Intelligence

Robert Sternberg proposed the theory of intelligence. According to him intelligence is “the mental ability that is directed towards the purposive adoption and the selection process of the real world environments that are relevant to the processes that shape one person’s life” (Miller, Vandome and McBrewster, 2010). He also agreed with all the other researchers who stressed on the fact that intelligence is a much broader concept than the regular concept of general ability. He further added that some of the proposed intelligent factors that were proposed by Gardner can be termed as “individual talents” (Miller, Vandome and McBrewster, 2010).

According to Sternberg, successful intelligence is consisted of three different factors like:

  • Analytical Intelligence Process: The problem solving capabilities of a person is counted under the part of intelligence. Creative Intelligence: The creativity of a person is basically dependent on the intelligence of the person. In the research processes the creativity of a person is directly proportional to the ability of the person to mix and match, and eventually adopt with the situation by the direct usage of all the past experiences of his life and his current skills.
  • Practical Intelligence: Basically this is also a reference to a person’s ability to adopt with the changing atmosphere.
  • Psychometric Approach: Psychometric testing is the most accepted form of testing intelligence of a person, and though there are many theories of intelligence, most researchers believe that it is the most convenient process of testing the intelligence quotient of a person. Charles Spearman first proposed the theory of testing intelligence and later others carried forward the process. He developed the technique of factor analysis, and it was promoted as a mathematical proof of the earlier developed “Two Factor Theory”. Other researchers like Raymond B. Cattell, John Horn, and others formed the processes and finally gave it a shape that was universally accepted.
  • Developmental Approach: The development theory of intelligence (Colom and Lynnb, 2004) was formed by Jean Piaget. “He proposed that intelligence is the main aspect of ensuring the equilibrium that can be formed with the relation in the person and his subsequent environment” (Miller, Vandome and McBrewster, 2010). This is a process which is charted with the development of a person in the World, and so we can say that development of a person is directly related with the continuous development process along with the subsequent assimilation and the related accommodations.

The most important aspect of the factor is that there is a general intelligence factor in every person. This is something which is governed by the general processing and the subsequent efficiency functions of the person. A general human being can monitor, gather and interpret all the information that floats around him. After gathering of the information, they gradually construct different aspects of news from the information, with the help of their self-awareness process and other definitive reflections. The basic problem solving capacity of a person changes with the passing of age and as a person becomes experienced, they become more efficient in solving problems. So the maturity of a person is very important in his intelligence (Colom and Lynnb, 2004).

However, from the point of view of this study, apart from creative intelligence all other are eligible to numerical markings and thus they are suitable to estimate intelligence accurately.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence of a person is also one of the traditionally important aspects of intelligence. Some researchers say that emotional intelligence is the result of general intelligence and the agreeableness of a person. An emotionally intelligent person can score in most areas of intelligence. Intelligence is an evolutionary process, as like all the evolutions it is also a very slow process indeed. There are some factors that effect intelligence, but in this case environment plays a very important part (Ciarrochi, Deane and Anderson, 2002). However, even this is subjected to numerical markings and thus it is possible to estimate intelligence under this theory.


In recent times the main discussion about intelligence deals with the question that if it is a result of nature or intelligence has to be nurtured. But in a general sense we can say that intelligence is a factor that needs both nature and nourishment. In a modern society every person has to be multitasking only to lead a peaceful life, and intelligence of a person really helps a person in the case. Other very important aspects of intelligence can be seen in the decision making process of a person, whether he is buying a pen or a car, the decision making aspect of a person distinguishes him from any other person who is there buying the same thing. Ultimately we can say, as with all other aspects of psychology, intelligence is one of the most complex concepts and will always be mysterious even when there are thousand theories regarding this. However, in accordance to the study, it can be well stated that as per the discussed theories, it is possible to estimate intelligence accurately as most of the theories incline towards results obtained from numerical markings.


Ciarrochi, J., Deane, F., and Anderson, A. (2002). Emotional intelligence moderates the relationship between stress and mental health. Personality and Individual Differences, 32(2), 197-209.

Colom, R., and Lynnb, R. (2004). Testing the developmental theory of sex differences in intelligence on 12–18 year olds. Personality and Individual Differences, 36(1), 75-82.

Crano, W., and Seyranian, V. (2009). How Minorities Prevail: The Context/Comparison–Leniency Contract Model. Journal of Social Issues, 65(2), 335-363.

Furnham, A., von Stumm, S., Makendrayogam, A. & Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2009). A taxonomy of self-estimated human performance: The general factor i. Journal of Individual Differences, 30, 188-193.

Goertzel, B., and Wang, P. (2007). Advances in artificial general intelligence: concepts, architectures and algorithms: proceedings of the AGI Workshop 2006. Boston: IOS Press.

Miller, F., Vandome, F., and McBrewster, J. (2010). Intelligence Quotient. LA: VDM Publishing House Ltd.