Understanding Intelligence


Intelligence is a complicated phenomenon that we really only have a very basic understanding of. Many people mistake intelligence for the ability to recall information easily, in fact the picture is considerably more complex than that. There are two broadly recognized forms of intelligence which are known as crystallized intelligence and fluid intelligence respectively. Our overall intelligence is a combination of both of these types of intelligence, which we will look at in more detail below.

Fluid Intelligence

Fluid intelligence is the more complex, and harder to define and measure, form of intelligence that we possess. It is our fluid intelligence which decides how good we are at abstract problem solving and reasoning. Fluid intelligence is an important component of overall intelligence and many psychologists consider it to be a measure of our individual innate learning abilities.

A high score for fluid intelligence indicates a brain with a high innate ability for learning and reasoning more generally. These are the traits that we tend to commonly associate with intelligence and so some might argue that this is the truest measure of the trait.

Crystalized Intelligence

Crystalized intelligence refers to our ability to apply existing knowledge to new situations, in doing so we reinforce, or crystallize, existing knowledge that we possess. For example, when we set out to learn a new language, we begin by memorizing new words and phrases and then reinforce these in our brains over time. Learning a new task usually begins with fluid intelligence and progresses to crystallized intelligence.

There are many people who are capable of recalling a great deal of information, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they understand this information at a deeper level. There is a great deal of debate as to where exactly the line between the two types of intelligence lies.

The difference between these two types of intelligence is outlined in this guide from examinedexistence.com.

Measuring Intelligence

Measuring intelligence has long been a controversial subject. There is considerable debate among psychologists and other academics as to how we can measure intelligence in a meaningful way. Generally, the tests that we think of as intelligence tests are in fact only designed to test a specific aspect of brain functioning and do not represent the global intelligence of an individual.

The global intelligence of an individual results from a combination of both of the other types of intelligence. The relationship between the two is complicated somewhat by the fact that, while crystalized intelligence has no effect on fluid intelligence, fluid intelligence can have an effect on crystalized intelligence.

For some time now various medical and psychological disciplines have sought to gain a deeper insight into what intelligence is and how it plays a role in the social functioning of the average individual. Gaining an understanding of how intelligence works, and how to best measure and build it, is an important consideration for the modern psychiatric professional. Gaining a deeper understanding of how intelligence works is beneficial to us all as it gives us a means for understanding our own minds and psychological makeup in a way that would otherwise be impossible.

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