Kd's e-pathsala Educational Psychology Intelligence: Concept, Characteristics and Types of Intelligence

Intelligence: Concept, Characteristics and Types of Intelligence

Concept of Intelligence

The psychologists who define intelligence provide different views. It has been defined as the ability to learn, to solve problems, to carry an abstract thinking, to adapt to new situations etc. The concept of intelligence affects the content and organization of the intelligence tests.


Definitions of Intelligence

The word ‘intelligence’ finds a fairly comprehensive use, but it has been defined in a number of ways by psychologists.

According to Stern, “Intelligence is the general mental adaptability to new problems and conditions of life.”

According to Terman, “An individual is intelligent in proportion as he is able to carry on abstract thinking.”

According to Wells, “Intelligence means precisely the power of rebinding our behaviour patterns so as to act better in a novel situation.”

Characteristics of the Intelligence

The characteristics of intelligence are as follows:


1. Intelligence is an inborn natural power.

2. It helps a man in learning things.

3. It helps a man to solve even the complicated problems and situations.

4. There is no difference in intelligence due to differences in sex.

5. There is a difference between intelligence and knowledge.


Types of Intelligence

Author of the theory is the American psychologist Edward Lee Thorndike. He assumed that intelligence involves three mutually independent abilities:

    1. Abstract intelligence  

    2. Mechanical intelligence 

    3. Social intelligence 


1. Abstract Intelligence : Abstract intelligence indicates the ability to respond to words, numbers, formulas, diagrams and letters etc. This formula is conspicuously absent in animals. An abstractly intelligent person is able to discover relations among symbols and to solve the various problems with the help of such aids (symbols, formula, diagram, letter etc.)

2. Concrete Intelligence/Mechanical intelligence : Concrete intelligence is also known as mechanical intelligence. It is the intelligence that has the relation with concrete materials. It is the ability of an individual to comprehend actual situations and to react to them adequately. Concrete intelligence is evident from various activities in our daily life. This kind of intelligence is measured by performance tests and picture tests in which an individual is asked to manipulate concrete materials.

3. Social Intelligence : Social intelligence means the ability of an individual to react to social situations of his or her daily life. Social intelligence is possessed by those people who are able to handle people well and also have the ability to make friends easily and understand human relations. Adequate adjustment in social situations is the index of social intelligence.