yes, therapy helps!
Fluid Intelligence and Crystallized Intelligence: what are they?

Fluid Intelligence and Crystallized Intelligence: what are they?

July 21, 2022

According to the dictionary of theReal academy of the Spanish language, “intelligence "Comes from the Latin word intelligentia. Some of the meanings that we want to rescue are the following:

  • Ability to understand or understand
  • Ability to solve problems
  • Knowledge, understanding
  • Skill, skill and experience

What is intelligence?

Each of these meanings refers to a differentiated field in which, intelligence routinely plays a fundamental role. From a rational perspective, the Understanding and understanding are essential factors for problem solving . The way in which human beings analyze the options we have to find the best procedure towards a result that we do not know supposes a high level of cognitive development. Skill and skill are also products of each other's intelligence.


The experience Finally, it has a bidirectional relationship with intelligence: they develop in parallel, and they feed back. However, the truth is that there must be a categorization that better understands the different kinds of intelligence that exist, in order to better understand the concept and the way in which it helps us to solve tasks of such a disparate nature.

Capabilities related to intelligence

Traditionally, Intelligence has been closely linked to these capabilities:

  • Think and establish associations between concepts
  • Solve everyday problems
  • Generate new problems (of greater complexity)
  • Create innovations and solve problems in the cultural field

Primary intelligence skills according to Thurstone

During the second third of the 20th century, the psychologist at the University of Chicago Louis Leon Thurstone (1887 - 1955) developed his studies on the primary intelligence skills, which resulted in the following:


  • Understanding the language
  • Perceptive agility
  • Logic reasoning
  • Numerical and mathematical ability
  • Verbal fluency
  • Spatial perception

Raymond Cattell

More than three decades later, the British psychologist Raymond Cattell (1905 - 1998) established a novel distinction between two types of intelligences: fluid and crystallized intelligence .

The fluid intelligence , according to Cattell, refers to a inherited ability to think and reason in an abstract way , while the crystallized intelligence born of experience and embodies the level of acculturation, education and learning.

Intelligence skills according to Robert Sternberg

It was not until 1985 that the psychologist at Yale University Robert J. Sternberg (born in 1949) categorized the different skills that emanate from intelligence in three groups:


  • Compromial intelligence : represents the ability to acquire and store information.
  • Intelligence experience l: it is the skill based on experience and that we use to choose, codify, combine and compare information in order to configure new concepts and impressions.
  • Contextual intelligence : refers to the adaptive behavior of the person in the natural and social environment that surrounds him.

Fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence

The difference between these two types of intelligence is usually linked to the variable age. However, it is more accurate to conceive the difference between fluid and crystallized intelligence based on the influence of the inheritance and / or the environment.

Fluid Intelligence

The Fluid intelligence refers to the person's ability to adapt and face new situations in an agile way , without previous learning, experience or acquired knowledge suppose a decisive help for its manifestation.

The fluid intelligence is very linked to the variables neurophysiological (for example, with the development of neuronal connections), and its influence is more pronounced since its development depends largely on the genetic basis. The same thing does not happen with crystallized intelligence.

In this same sense, we can establish a link between the potential development of fluid intelligence and the growth of the child in an enriching environment. Living in a positive and enriching environment correlates with the development of neuronal connections in brain regions associated with memory, learning and orientation in space.

Components of fluid intelligence

The fluid intelligence is composed of:

  • The ability to reason with abstract content
  • The logical reasoning
  • The ability to establish relationships or extract differences

The fluid intelligence Acquires its peak of development early, around adolescence . This is a big difference from the moment of apogee of crystallized intelligence.In this way, during adult life, this capacity is usually reduced progressively as the body ages, as neuronal structures deteriorate.

The decline in fluid intelligence may be due to several factors: regulatory aging, accidents, pathologies, drug consumption, et cetera. These last three factors can cause injuries or alterations in the different structures of the brain and in the central nervous system.

→ Crystallized Intelligence

Crystallized Intelligence is the set of skills, strategies and knowledge that constitute the degree of cognitive development achieved through a person's learning history .

Components of crystallized intelligence

The crystallized intelligence includes the skills related to:

  • The understanding of language
  • The degree of understanding and use of semantic relationships
  • The evaluation of the experience
  • The ability to establish judgments and conclusions
  • Mechanical knowledge
  • Orientation in space

The crystallized intelligence depends to a great extent on the learning obtained from the experience of the person in the cultural context in which he lives and relates. The development of each person's crystallized intelligence depends to a large extent on making a good investment of their historical fluid intelligence in habits that allow them to learn new things. In other words, the potential for intellectual development with which we are born (also called historical fluid intelligence) will achieve a higher or lower level depending on the educational experiences that occur during life.

In fact, the development of intellectual abilities can be progressed during life to the extent that the experiential context and the motivation of the person to continue learning allow it.

The way in which the vital experience intervenes in the intelligence of a person can be known through the observation of the effects of stress in the persondeterioration of brain structures . According to a recent study from the University of Toronto, the hormones that the human body secretes when we are worried or nervous directly affect a brain area linked to cognitive functions, such as memory or orientation in space.

So, as we pointed out in the article "5 tricks to increase your intelligence", it is essential both the constant search for new knowledge and lead a balanced life if we aim to keep our cognitive abilities at their best.

Bibliographic references:

  • Rice, Philips F. et al. (1997). "Human development". Pearson.
  • Shaffer, D. (2005). "Psychology of development: childhood and adolescence". Edition, 5th ed. Publication, Mexico, D.F
  • Triglia, Adrián; Regader, Bertrand; and García-Allen, Jonathan (2018). "What is intelligence?" EMSE Publishing.

Crystallized Vs. Fluid Intelligence (July 2022).


Similar Articles