Intelligence is an extensively researched psychological construct, which has its roots back as far as the late 19th and early 20th century with the likes of Fransis Galton, Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon (Baron & Leonberger 2012). This article will explore some of the key concepts of intelligence to understand giftedness and the journey to modern Intelligence testing.
Intelligence quotient (IQ) is a measure of intelligence identified through psychological assessment (APA Dictionary). Originally, the ratio IQ method was used, which divided mental age by chronological age and multiplied it by 100. Currently, most standardised IQ assessments use the deviation IQ method, which measures the deviation or distance of an individual’s score from the average (mean) (APA Dictionary).
A multitude of theories have paved the way for the development of intelligence testing. Some have stood the test of time and they are still dominant today, yet others have faded into the background. Some of these theories are based on the assumption that intelligence is something children are born with. Thus, gifted individuals have high intelligence quotient (IQ) from birth irrespective of cultivation of those gifts (Worrell, 2021). These ideas vary to some degree, but they are collectively referred to as the biological approach to intelligence. Whereas others argued against this biological stance.
Let’s look at some of these theories:
A non-biological model is the concept of giftedness as ‘practice’ suggested by Anders Ericsson and Malcolm Gladwell, who theorised that if we practice something long enough, about 10,000 hours, we will become gifted in that area (Worrell, 2021). It is interesting to note that the concept of 10,000 hours comes from an analysis of the habits of various violinists. They found that over a lifetime:
- Violin teachers practiced about 4,000 hours.
- Orchestra members practiced about 8,000 hours.
- Soloists practiced about 10,000 hours (Worrell, 2021).
This practice-based approach does not see giftedness as a trait or something innate, but rather a potential, that if rightly coached, will result in giftedness in adults. Although this is biologically driven, it is still seen as a social construct. In other words, giftedness is the outcome of a talent developed over the years, and it is impacted by a number of internal and external factors. These factors can be summarised as:
Five key contributors to talent development:
- The potential (The Biology)
- Appropriate development
- Training, teaching and coaching
- Context and opportunity
- Commitment, work and practice (Worrell, 2021)
This line of argument also emphasises the importance of different types of teachers in one’s lifetime. Bloom (1985) argued that in the making of a gifted adult there has to be at least three different types of teachers:
- 1st A teacher to teach basic skills, cultivate love for the area.
- 2nd A teacher to teach expertise, giving skills to move up the ladder.
- 3rd A teacher to mentor for a personalised niche – helps to develop unique abilities.
The early pioneers of intelligence testing viewed giftedness as ability or intelligence quotient (IQ). In 1916, the first intelligent test was translated from French and became known as the Stanford-Binet IQ test (Baron & Leonberger 2012). It has had a number of editions since, but it is still in use today. The Stanford-Binet was the most popular IQ test up until 1960 (Kaufman 2006). In 1977, the first edition of the Woodcock-Johnson (WJ) assessment family was published (Spurgin, 2018). Currently, the WJ is on its fourth edition published in 2014, and it is claimed to be solely grounded in the Cattell-Horn-Carroll theory of intelligence (Spurgin, 2018, Schrank et al. 2014). The WJ is available for ages 2 – 90+ years and it has been adapted to the Australian population.
The theory of intelligence by Cattell-Horn-Cattell simply argues that general intelligence is a multidimensional construct and it is made up of a variety of different cognitive abilities. It includes crystallised intelligence (acquired knowledge), fluid reasoning (dealing with novel tasks) and visual intelligence (rotating geometric figures in one’s mind) just to name a few (Schneider & McGrew, 2018). This theory has made a major impact on the development of intelligence testing, and it still continues to evolve and influence research in Australasia and throughout the world (Schneider & McGrew, 2018).
Most notably, however, the Wechsler scales have come into prominence and even superseded the popularity of the Stanford-Binet in the 1960s. Today, it remains one of the most commonly used family of tests today (Kaufman 2006, Britannica). The Wechsler scales include:
- The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) (16:0-90:11yrs)
- The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) (6:0-16:11yrs)
- The Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI) (2:6-7:7yrs)
The estimated time required to complete a Wechsler IQ test depends on the age and abilities of the individual but can range from 30 minutes to 2 hours and cannot be repeated for a period of 2 years (WPPSI-IV Administration and Scoring Manual 2014). Although the WPPSI is available from 2 years 6 months, it is generally recommended to consider testing from 4 or 5 years of age (Baron & Leonberger 2012). This is to ensure the test results are obtained are more stable in the context of the child’s brain maturation process (Baron & Leonberger 2012).
Depending on the classification used, most often giftedness is considered from an IQ of 130, however, there are various debates that advocate for lower cut off points (Pezutti et al. 2022). An IQ of 130 means that the individual performed better than 98 per cent of the population (Lichtenberger & Kaufman 2012). There are two types of categorisations used for IQ results, see both below:
Extremely Low <69
Low Average 80-89
High Average 110-119
Very Superior 130+
Alternative Description of Performance
Lower Extreme <69
Below Weakness 70-84
Average Range 85-115
Above Average 116-130
Upper Extreme 131+
Let’s consider some fun facts about intelligence / IQ:
- About 50 per cent of our intelligence is explained by hereditary factors
- The other 50 per cent is due to environmental factors
- The strongest hereditary IQ correlations were found between mother and son followed by father and son (Pezutti et al. 2022, Sauce & Matzel 2018).
If you are interested in intelligence testing, and would like to know more, do not hesitate to give our office a call and chat to Admin team to assist you with booking.
Co-Author: Sharyn Jones, B Psych (Hons).
Sharyn Jones is a Brisbane psychologist with 10 years of experience working with adults, adolescents, children and their parents. Using a combination of cognitive behavioural and solution focused therapies, she aims to facilitate positive changes in client’s lives so that they can achieve and obtain their desired goals.
To make an appointment with Sharyn try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422 or M1 Psychology Loganholme on (07) 3067 9129.
Co-Author: Katalin Mezei, BA (Hons) Psych & Crim, G. Dip Psych, MSc Health Psych
Katalin Mezei is a Provisional Psychologist now based in Brisbane, having completed my undergraduate and Master’s training in the United Kingdom. My aim is to help people identify my clients’ core values and help them live according to them.
To make an appointment with Katalin please call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422 or M1 Psychology Loganholme on (07) 3067 9129
American Psychological Association. Editors of APA Dictionary of Psychology. Intelligence quotient. https://dictionary.apa.org/iq
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