Spearmans model of intelligence and Gardners multiple intelligences

Essay by grimesyUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, July 2004

download word file, 3 pages 3.0

Individual Project Page 2

Charles Spearman proposed his theory as justification for the current conception of

intelligence as a single entity that could be scientifically represented by a global measure. He

noticed that diverse measures of performance tend to be highly correlated, thus, performance

appeared to be dictated by one general characteristic, with the presence of task specific factors to

explain less than absolute correlations between tests(Rogers,318-20). Consequently, Spearman's

Two-Factor theory described intellectual performance as a combination of general intelligence

(g) which is present in differing degrees in all individuals, and those specific factors (s) which

vary in their strength and influence upon intellectual tasks(Fancher,92-3); yet he clearly stated

that g was merely a magnitude and not a representation of concrete reality(Edwards,108).

Moreover, the universal nature of g was applicable only to human cognitions and ability, and not

to the influences of affect and motivation as later researchers would postulate(Edwards,110).

Spearman also characterized general intelligence as mental energy, a theoretical paradigm

whereby s represents neural networks as mental engines that enable the expression of g as

energy(Edwards,110), a system in which continual competition for mental resources is indicated

by the continuity of psychological functioning(Rogers,320).

Hierarchical ordering of a matrix of the intercorrelations between various test scores was

considered to be proof for the existence of general intelligence, in that it could be arranged in

descending order according to the saturation of g in the test, which varies as a function of the

task involved(see Rogers,320). Spearman postulated the theorum of the indifference of the

indicator which states that any measure of human performance is an appropriate estimate of

Intelligence if both s and g have been well established(Rogers,322); in this manner, all aspects of

Intellectual performance could serve as a measure of g, which virtually eliminated the debate as

Individual Project Page 3

to what tasks a test should properly incorporate. Let's say that you view intelligence not as a

single overall ability, but as a collection of abilities. It follows, then, that any single number on

an intelligence test will provide, at best, an inadequate account of a persons ability (Sternberg,

Grigorenko, & Bundy, 2001).

That is an overview of the Spearman Model, now lets take a look at Gardner's Multiple

Intelligences. Howard Gardner suggests that there is more to intelligence than scores on current

intelligence tests. People can manifest intelligence in many ways that are not tapped by such

tests. ( Stephen F. Davis & Joseph J. Palladino). Lets focus on the seven kinds of intelligence

according to Howard Gardner, the first is logical-mathematical, which is used in solving

mathematics and in logical thinking. It is the ability to handle long chains of reasoning. The

second is linguistic, which is sensitivity of the sounds, rhythms, and meanings of words. The

third is musical, which the ability to produce and appreciate rhythm and pitch, also very high

level of competence. The Fourth is spatial, which is the ability to grasp how objects orient in

space, which can be very useful in art and navigation. The Fifth is bodily kinesthetic, which is

the ability to control one's body movements and to handle objects skillfully. The sixth is

interpersonal, which is sensitivity to people and an ability to understand what motivates them.

The seventh is intrapersonal, which is understanding one's emotions and being able to draw on

them to guide one's behavior. (www.admin.vmi.edu).

Although Gardner's perspectives seem to be alternatives to traditional views of

intelligence, they are in many ways complimentary in their emphasis on different aspects of


Individual Project Page 4

The study of intelligence has historically been dominated by the psychometric view,

according to Spearman, this view was perpetuated through increasingly sophisticated methods of

measuring and analyzing data of intelligence. Gardner's views became disenchanted with the

traditional, psychometric theories of intelligence. One major issue which seemed to remain

elusive to these scientists, was that of differential success at activities valued by our culture. For

example, how is it that an individual's score on a traditional intelligence test could be blandly

average, yet that same individual could excel in artistic expression or in the kinesthetic

interpretation. (www.admin.vmi.edu).