Growing Up

How do you define intelligence?

What makes you intelligent?

Intelligence is a difficult term to define. It can mean different things to different people. In fact, the scientific community has been debating its meaning for a long time and there is still controversy over its exact definition and the ways to measure it.

The “IQ” test was once regarded as the best way to measure intelligence. However, there is now a general awareness of its shortcomings, namely, that it only tests specific branches of intelligence (see opposite).


The important thing to bear in mind is that being intelligent is not only about excelling in a narrow academic field, or having a broad general knowledge, or even being good at spelling or math. All those things require a degree of intelligence but do not define intelligence. Rather, intelligence reflects a broader and deeper aptitude for understanding multiple things in one’s surroundings, for catching on, making sense of things, or figuring out what to do in any given circumstance. It’s about possessing the ability to analyze and evaluate, to imagine and invent, and, in practical terms, being able to apply and implement ideas successfully.

Read More: What does an IQ of less than 105 mean for your child

Strands of intelligence

There are innumerable strands of intelligence, such as the capacities to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas, use language, and learn. People’s intelligence may also be characterized by their ability to adapt to a new environment, or their ability to form healthy relationships, or their capacity for original and productive thought.

Furthermore, one could point out more specific strands of intelligence.

For example, a person who excels in a specific sport is demonstrating a high level of kinesthetic intelligence, whereas a person who can manipulate melody and rhythm has high musical intelligence.

In that respect, both Johann Sebastian Bach and David Beckham could be regarded as highly intelligent people in their respective fields.


The IQ test

IQ is the acronym for intelligence quotient, and refers to a score given for several standardized intelligence tests. French psychologist Alfred Binet developed the first of these in 1905. He constructed the IQ test, as it would later be called, to determine which children might need additional help in scholarly pursuits. The modern-day IQ test is primarily based on three intelligences: verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, and visual-spatial reasoning. The system scores you on your understanding of everyday words, simple arithmetical concepts, and the ability to recognize shapes and interpret representational pictures.


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