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5 things you did not know about human intelligence

5 things you did not know about human intelligence

July 19, 2024

The concept of human intelligence remains, even today, subject of controversy within science. Theorists and researchers do not come to an agreement about what is and how it can be measured.

However, there is a certain consensus that intelligence is related to the ability to seek and use the information we need in order to solve the problems we face.

  • Related article: "The theories of human intelligence"

Curiosities about human intelligence

Let's see now five things you probably did not know about human intelligence.

1: The tests do not measure intelligence in absolute terms

Along the history, Many tests have been developed to measure the cognitive abilities inherent in intelligence . Two of these instruments are the Weschler Intelligence Test, and the Raven Progressive Matrices Test. Both have the particularity that they have a wide scientific literature that supports them and they also have a good correlation with each other. The latter means that whether they take one test or the other, both will show very similar results.


On the contrary, those tests that are often offered by current magazines or circulating on Facebook or some websites to check how smart we are, have not been scientifically studied, and therefore have no value.

But nevertheless, no test is used to measure our intelligence in absolute terms , but in relative terms. This means that what the result shows is how smart we are in relation to the rest of the population of our same age group; that is, it compares us with others and positions us within a hierarchical scale.

2: Intelligence is associated with operational memory

At the beginning of the 20th century, the English psychologist Charles Spearman proposed through an exhaustive factorial analysis that the intellectual capacity of people is subject to what he called the G factor of intelligence.


According to his hypothesis, the G factor would represent a basic and specific component for general intelligence , dependent on brain integrity and capable of being measured by means of the tests.

More recent research has also found a correlation between the Spearman G factor and the operating memory index.

Operational memory can be defined as the set of mental processes that allow us to temporarily manipulate the information we need for the correct performance of cognitive tasks such as reading, mathematical skills and even language comprehension. A classic example is when we go to the supermarket and we decided to take a mental estimate of what we are spending as we add products to the shopping cart.

That is, the greater the number of items or information that a person can keep circulating in their operating memory, the greater your intellectual capacity . This makes sense, because in order to solve any problem effectively, we will need to be able to contemplate and mentally manipulate the largest number of variables that intervene in it.


  • Maybe you're interested: "Work (operational) memory: components and functions"

3. There are scientists who propose that intelligence is not a one-dimensional concept

I am aware that this statement contradicts the previous point, but the truth is that The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, proposed by the psychologist Howard Gardner , basically sustains that who is intelligent in some sense, can be a complete fool in another.

This researcher defends the idea that there is no specific thing called "intelligence", and that on the contrary, the intelligence of the people it can manifest itself in many different ways .

According to the definition we gave at the beginning, someone who earns his living playing the piano or playing basketball, can not be said precisely that he is not intelligent because he lacks mathematical abilities or is not very good at solving logical problems. .

"If someone like Lionel Messi wins millions thanks to his ability with the ball, the last thing we can say about him is that he's stupid," Gardner could say without flinching.

This concept has gained much popularity among people because it essentially proposes that we are all potentially smart for something. However, there are scientists who criticize it claiming that certain personal qualities can not be considered as synonymous with intelligence, but rather "Areas" of good performance .

Even some researchers have come to the conclusion that at the base of the different disciplines that make up the "multiple intelligences" is the G factor of which we spoke earlier, as a kind of foundation or hard core on which multiple intelligences are built according to the individual differences. That is, the G factor would be in this case the common denominator to the different types of intelligence proposed by Gardner.

4: Intelligence tends to be stable over time

We all know that when we exercise a particular skill a lot, like playing chess or solving crosswords, eventually we end up becoming experts in that particular skill . It is true that practice makes perfect, but do not confuse being very good in a particular discipline with general intelligence.

Of course, the quantity and quality of information that we acquire throughout our lives will be what finally configures our knowledge base. But regardless of how much we study, how many languages ​​we learn, how many sports we practice, the G factor of intelligence tends to remain more or less immutable , whether we are 20 or 60 years old.

In other words, specific learning is restricted to their particular area of ​​activity. They are not extrapolated or generalized.

It is precisely this characteristic that makes some instruments of intelligence evaluation reliable, such as those mentioned at the beginning.

5: There is no intelligence gene

To the date no gene that is entirely responsible for human intelligence has been detected as we know it. And this makes sense, since the intellectual capacity seems to be the result of many different processes that interact with each other, which in turn require the involvement of many genes.

Just as when we listen to a symphony we can not say that the quality of the music that reaches our ears is the result of a particular instrument, it does not make sense to think that intelligence is the result of a single factor.

Nor can we separate intelligence from the culture in which we are immersed . We do not live isolated in a glass bell, but in a complex world shaped by infinite variables. Since we are born, or even before, we are exposed to an environment that interacts and permanently shapes our genetic predisposition.


12 Signs of High Intelligence You Probably Have (July 2024).


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