What is intelligence? Sattler describes a famous symposium conducted in 1921 at which 13 psychologists gave 13 different definitions of intelligence (1992, pp. 44-45). Some of these definitions are paraphrased below:
Intelligence is. . .
the tendency to take and maintain a direction. . .
judgment, otherwise called good sense, practical sense, initiative. . .
everything intellectual can be reduced to . . . relations or correlates. . .
adjustment or adaptation to the environment. . .
global capacity to act purposefully, think rationally, and deal effectively. . .
the ability to plan and structure behavior. . .
the process of acquiring storing, retrieving, comparing memory. . .
the ability to solve genuine problems or
difficulties. . .
You can see that we still have not reached a common definition. There are other approaches to intelligence. We have studied Piaget, who believed that intelligence represents the biological adaptation of an individual to the environment.
Piaget suggests that intelligence increases as children develop, especially from birth through age five. Other kinds of intelligence might include social intelligence--the ability to get along well in society (Taylor, 1990) and survival intelligence--the ability to survive. Certainly the ability to survive in a wilderness will be different from the ability to survive in an inner city, but I expect both calls for similar capabilities.
In school settings, psychologists often joke that IQ is what IQ tests measure. There is a lot of truth to this adage. Ideally, IQ tests sample a wide range of experiences and they measure a person's ability to apply learned information in new and different ways. They do not measure capacity or potential. They do provide information about cognitive skills at a given point in time. Because IQ tests chiefly measure success in school, they are value-laden. Scores provide a statistical...