What Is a Mental Ability?

1. Mental Ability: What is a mental ability and how does it differ from a motivational or emotional trait?

2. Mental Ability and Society: Sir Frances Galton, in England, and Alfred Binet, in France, were both interested in studying intelligence. How were their approaches similar and how were they different? What social pressures led to the study of mental abilities?


Which Intelligences Were Studied First?

3. The First Intelligence Tests: The early Binet scale asked questions that depended upon a good understanding of language, and it often asked about words and language. What intelligence was it said to measure as a consequence?

4. A New Intelligence: Wechsler was faced with a population of immigrants in New York, not all of whom were fluent in English. What intelligence did he measure to correct for such difficulties in language?


How Does Intelligence Develop?

5. Mental Development and the IQ Score: One of the key aspects of mental capacity is that it develops with age, at least through childhood. Which intelligence researcher developed that insight? How does rate IQ capture the idea of mental development?

6. The Deviation IQ: Deviation IQs are not calculated according to rate of development. Do they reflect rate of development anyway? If so, how?


What Is g and What Are Broad Intelligences?

7. The Theory of g: Charles Spearman suggested that there existed one general intelligence that contributed to all the other intelligences. His theory of g was based on what observation about the correlation among mental abilities?

8. Spatial Intelligence: Researchers in the mid-20th century first proposed that a spatial intelligence might exist. How did Roger Shepard and his colleagues measure it?

9. Social Abilities: In the 1920s, some psychologists began to study social intelligence. Unfortunately, it was difficult to distinguish from verbal intelligence, and was so heavily criticized that work in the area languished. What is the present status of this intelligence?

10. Practical Intelligence: Another kind of intelligence is practical intelligence. What does it measure? It is based on implicit-tacit knowledge: can you define what sort of knowledge that is?

11. Emotional Intelligence: In the 1990s, some psychologists studied emotional intelligence. At this time, considerable evidence has been obtained reflecting the existence of the ability. What are some sample tasks that measure emotional intelligence? 

12. Personal Intelligence: Personal intelligence is a recently proposed intelligence. How would you define personal intelligence?

13. Measuring Creativity: Creativity involves the capacity to come up with novel solutions to problems. One mental ability related to creativity involves verbal fluency—the ability to come up with words to fit a given requirement, such as rhymes to a word like “clang.” What other ways are there of measuring creativity?


What Is the Relationship between Personality and Intelligence?

14. Personality Draws on Mental Abilities: Personality draws on mental abilities to get its work done. Mental abilities seem to be greater in human beings than in other animals. Intellectual capacity seems to rise across animal species as brain size increases. This has led researchers to try to connect brain size and intelligence. What new neural imaging techniques have researchers employed to connect brain size to intelligence? Are there any genetic bases for intelligence?

15. Relationships between Mental Ability Traits and Other Traits: Most motivational and emotional traits—such as extraversion and neuroticism—are unrelated to intellect-related traits. There are some exceptions; for example, empathy is related to emotional intelligence. Which traits relate to creativity and which to cognitive intelligences? Creativity is associated with alterations of consciousness and mood swings, though creativity is itself a healthy process. What mental disorders are characterized by unusual conscious experiences and mood swings?

16. Personality, Mental Abilities, and the Construction of Mental Models: There is evidence for environmental influences on intelligence. What happened to immigrant groups after a few generations in the United States? Schooling influences intelligence as well. How does a year in school affect IQ? Fluid intelligence involves pure, abstract reasoning. What is crystallized intelligence and how does it relate to mental models?


How Are Mental Abilities Expressed?

17. Intelligence and the Expression of Thought: Nearly everyone carries out concrete thinking, remembering times, objects, and events. A central characteristic of higher intelligence is abstract reasoning. Can you say what abstract reasoning involves? What other characteristics of intelligence were commonly mentioned in this chapter?

18. Intelligences at School: Cognitive intelligences are highly predictive of school performance. The relationships are expressed as correlations between intelligence tests and various criteria. What are some of the educational outcomes that intelligence predicts, and what are the general levels of those predictions?

19. Intelligences and Mental Abilities at Work: Although intelligence tests were not developed to measure occupational performance, research has shown that there are correlations between IQ and occupational choice and success. One of the most striking findings concerns the relationship between the average IQ of people in a given occupation and the prestige of the occupation. Do you know what this relationship is? What are some other relationships between IQ and occupational status? How does practical intelligence relate to work performance? People with higher creativity produce more creative products—books, poems, and scientific studies. Creativity alters an individual’s career path—can you say how?

20. Intelligences and Mental Abilities in Relationships: Emotional intelligence predicts academic success, but often not much better than cognitive intelligence. When it comes to relationships, however, emotional intelligence appears to predict a variety of outcomes. What is the relationship between emotional intelligence and connectedness? What does emotional intelligence predict about problem behaviors?

21. The Scope of Intelligence: As the measures of intelligence broaden, it is more likely that more of people’s abilities will be accurately measured and that the intelligence tests will become fairer. What are some of the other limitations or strengths of intelligence measurement?