Personality and Individual Differences (MPSMD3PID)
Introduction to Intelligence
Module Convenor:
Dr Wendy Iredale
(Office Lg06)
The next four lectures – Intelligence
1. Introduction to intelligence
2. Theories on quantifying intelligence
3. The use of intelligence tests
4. The nature vs nurture debate of intelligence
This week
• What is intelligence?
• Cultural differences
• Sex differences
• The Brain and Intelligence
• Why are we such an intelligence species
What is Intelligence? – Activity
ØHow would you know that someone is
ØList the characteristics or behaviours that you
associate with intelligence.
Lay vs. Expert Conceptions of Intelligence
• Sternberg et al. (1981)
• Contacted people
– In a train station
– Entering a supermarket
– Studying in a university library
• Asked them to list behaviours characteristic of an
intelligent person
• then took this list and had both lay-persons &
psychologists rate the importance of each of the
behaviours in describing the “ideally intelligent”
Some Classic Definitions
• Spearman (1904)
– A general ability which involves mainly the education of relations and
• Binet & Simon (1905)
– The ability to judge well, to understand well, to reason well
• Terman (1916)
– The capacity to form concepts and grasp their significance
• Thurstone (1921)
– The capacity to inhibit instinctive adjustments, flexibly imagine
different responses, and realize modified instinctive adjustments into
overt behaviour
Definitions (continued)
• Wechsler (1939)
– the aggregate or global capacity of the individual to act purposefully,
to think rationally, and to deal effectively with the environment
• Sternberg (1985)
– the mental capacity to automatize information processing and to emit
contextually appropriate behaviour in response to novelty; intelligence
also includes metacomponents, performance components, and
knowledge-acquisition components
• Gardner (1986)
– the ability or skill to solve problems or to fashion products which are
valued within one or more cultural settings
Cornelius & Caspi, 1987
• The Everyday Problem Solving Inventory
– Examinees indicate their typical response to
everyday problems
– E.g., failing to bring money, checkbook, or credit
card when taking a friend to lunch
Galton & the Brass Instruments Era of
“the only information that reaches us concerning outward events
appears to pass through the avenues of our senses; and the more
perceptive the senses are of difference, the larger is the field
upon which our judgment and intelligence can act” (Galton,
Measuring Intelligence in different
Cultural Differences in Views of Intelligence
• China (Yang & Sternberg, 1997)
– Emphasis on benevolence & doing what is right
– Importance of humility, freedom from
conventional standards of judgment, knowledge
of oneself
Cultural Differences in Views of
• Africa (Ruzgis & Grigorenko, 1994)
– Conceptions of intelligence revolve largely around skill that
help to facilitate and maintain harmonious & stable
intergroup relations
– E.g., in Zimbabwe, the word for intelligence, ngware,
actually means to be prudent & cautious, particularly in
social relationships

At the moment the glass is empty, but imagine the glass is half
full – draw a line where you think the top if the water should be
Answer to be revealed in the

Sex Differences
• Mathematical ability: small to medium advantage
for males, because of larger male variability.
• Navigation: no sex advantage, but males use dead
reckoning and females use landmarks.
• Motor Skills: male advantage in throwing and female
advantage in manual control movements.
Are there consistent sex differences in cognitive
• Spatial Ability: the skill in representing,
transforming, generating and recalling
symbolic nonlinguistic info.
• Men > women
Are there consistent sex differences in cognitive
• Visuospatial tests: visual recognition, linguistic
ability, verbal fluency
• Women > men

Reasons for Sex Differences
• Social-cultural: males and females
are socialized differently and
conform to different cultural
expectations. The degree of
difference varies by culture.
• Biological: Natural selection in
Upper Paleolithic era (40,000 to
60,000 years ago) may have favored
verbal and fine motor control in
females; navigation and throwing in
males. Note brain lateralization in
Why the difference?
• Evolutionary…
– Hunter vs. gatherer
• Psychosocial…
– Learned through experience or imitation
– Children fulfilling sex role stereotypes
Stereotype threat
• The fear that one might confirm
the stereotypes that others hold
• Spencer, Steele, and Quinn,
– Study 1: women perform worse
on math tests.
– Study 2: when the researchers
described the test as producing
gender differences, women
performed substantially worse
because the stereotype threat
was high
Is brain size linked to intelligence?
Measuring intelligence
• Earlier attempts to measure intelligence
– Brain size and intelligence
• Paul Broca
• claimed there was a relationship between size of brain
and intelligence
• larger brains indicating more intelligence
• later reanalysis of Broca’s data indicted that measures
of brain size proved to be unreliable and poorly
correlated with intelligence
Areas of the brain dedicated to certain

The Intelligent Brain
• No one “intelligence spot”
• A number of regions scattered around the cortex
(e.g., reasoning, language and sensory
• Better organized white matter in high IQ (the
“wiring” of the brain, connect cortex to other
structures) àbetter “processing speed”???
• Certain regions of the brain tend to be thicker in
high IQ people. Scientists not sure why…
The Intelligent Brain
Why are we such an intelligent species?
Original explanation: brains evolved to process
factual information about the world
The social brain hypothesis
In essence – Robin Dunbar (1998, 2003)
plotted group size against neocortex size
We did not evolve in isolation – our
environment was social:
Why are we such an intelligent
Neocortex brain size and group size
Neocortex ratio
group size (stable
social relationships)
= approx 150
Neocortex brain size and group size
• Based on the arguments made in the above
slides… draw what you think an alien would
look like
Why are we such an intelligent
Theory of mind
The larger the group
size the more people
you have to keep
track of!
For next week Theories on Qualifying
• Here’s a question for you……How do you get a
cork out of an empty wine bottle?
For next week Theories on Qualifying
• Watch the following
• https://www.dailymotio
– Discovery/Science/Life
• Watch the video and
work out which of the 7
people go into the
• A person can fit into
more than one category
7 People
1, Gary ( Fighter pilot)
2, Nathan ( IQ expert)
3, Seth ( Quantum
4, Stella ( Artist)
5, Bonny ( Dramatist)
6, Alex ( Musical prodigy)
7, Susan (Chess
Any Questions?