Nature of Human Intelligence


Moving into my imagination, thinking of birds such as crows and animals such as elephants, are they intelligent? Is intelligence a human possession, limited to humans only? How about those of us who scored low on tests?

Human Intelligence

It's a normal thing to hear comments on poor performance in studies. Some students do believe that they are less intelligent compared to others who achieve better test results. It's hard to handle the nowadays schooling realities.

According to Charles Spearman, traditionally it's believed that there is an existence of intellectual ability in every person which is referred to as the existence of a mental capacity that influences performance on a cognitive level.

This ability is possessed almost by every human being, but the ability varies in each person when it comes to measuring IQ.

"The g factor is responsible for overall performance on mental ability tests. "– Spearman, The English Psychologist (1904)

The general mental ability is what upholds special mental mastery connected to areas such as spatial, numerical, mechanical, and lingual skills. The belief is that this general intelligence influences achievement on all cognitive tasks.

Intelligence is a debate, many of us rely on reading and memorizing as the only guiding determinant of intelligence. It's hard to take it when comparing individuals' intelligence by simply using one criterion.

According to Sternberg, the traditional tests fail to measure other important aspects. The g factor relies on measuring academic excellence only. Unfavorable to the facts on human intelligence abilities variation. Talking about the nature of human intelligence includes a variety of aspects and points of view.

Humans do vary in mental quality which includes abilities such as:

  • To learn from familiarity.
  • Adjust to new situations.
  • Awareness and handling of abstract ideas.
  • Utilize insight knowledge to capitalize on one's environment.

Robert J. Sternberg suggests a comprehensive theory should cover three aspects of intelligence:

  • Componential or Analytical Skills

This includes the components of analytic thinking that are covered by traditional IQ tests along with other components such as planning and evaluating strategies, thus being good at problem-solving. This follows those who do better in books or book smart.

  • Experiential.

This aspect refers to the ability to combine experience in insightful ways. Being able to invent and creatively solve problems.

  • Contextual.

This emphasizes adaptation to the environment. It's not a matter of being at the right place, but adapting to new experiences and surroundings with commitments.

People with high IQs with those with moderate ones can reach their full potential by applying those aspects of intelligence in their studies. Since we are not the same, We are to use various aspects of intelligence in our daily lives. We can put much effort into the aspect of intelligence we have strength.

Elements that may affect IQ ( intelligent quotient)

  • Early life experience.

Developmental psychologists suggest that life experience on cognitive development does affect intelligence. The environment during infancy and childhood does make a difference. 

  • Culture.

The Indigenous culture doesn't give an environment to learn materials that favor modern cultures. The usefulness of the test components to actual life experience can be a problem for a student.

  • Hereditary and Environment.

Genetic inheritance plays a great to one's IQ. The correlation of IQ in identical twins is higher, compared to fraternal twins.

Also, members of the same family vary systematically in the extent to which they share genetic makeup, they also vary systematically and in a similar way in their surroundings. Those with similar genes have more similar environments. Inborn similarities are so fused with the environment.

Besides, word fluency and perceptual speed are traditional aspects of IQ. They do not cover the whole spectrum of human intelligence. Also, genetic influence on the surroundings comprises some of the Family Environment and the Social Readjustment of life events, which to a large extent affect human intelligence. Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Frames of Mind." Howard Gardner (1983)

We can therefore summarize Sternberg's Triarchic Theory of Intelligence as follows:

  • A componential or analytical who scored well on the tests and was good at both test-taking and analytical thinking. He or she would illustrate the componential aspect of the test. Also responding to questions with curiosity gets to the bottom of the problem.
  • An experiential or inventive person who did not have the best test scores, but was a creative thinker and insightful when it comes to combining a variety of life experiences. The one would personify the cleverness of using fresh ideas aspect of intelligence.
  • Contextual or Practical person who did not have the highest test scores, but was street smart, resourceful, able to use common sense, and knew how to manipulate the environment in a variety of contexts. One would demonstrate the contextual aspect of intelligence to behave according to the reality of the world.

Lastly, Scientists do go further to research thinking of intelligence as a universal consciousness that is not limited to humans or a certain culture, race, or group of people.

Humans and Animals can adapt to their surroundings by learning to change their habits and behaviors.

Intelligence can be improved by learning and grooming the brain through meditation, having enough time for sleep and proper diet and sports, and strategic games such as chess board games which stimulate the brain to work at its best.

Much is still unknown about intelligence in general at its microscopic level or ultra-quantum consciousness.


"Animal Intelligence, Animal Behaviour." Brittanica Encyclopedia.

Gardner. H.E (1983).Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Robert J. Sternberg. (2018). The Nature of Human Intelligence.Cambridge University Press.

Plomin, R., & Bergeman, C. (1991). The nature of nurture: Genetic influence on “environmental” measures. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 14(3), 373-386. doi:10.1017/S0140525X00070278

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