In his 1909 book, Modern Ideas About Children, Binet noted four mental processes that he thought played a key role in intelligence. He also described how these processes might look in young children of normal intelligence. Of course, these descriptions also fit older children and adults with moderate retardation.

• Comprehension. This term referred to the ability to notice and understand things. Binet wrote that young children experienced the world largely through their senses. They also tended to see parts of things rather than the whole, and they had trouble differentiating unimportant details from important ones. When it came to language, the children used few adjectives and conjunctions. They also tended to use concrete words rather than abstract ones. In short, they had "a comprehension that remains always on the surface."

• Inventiveness. This concept referred to the ability to describe and interpret things. Binet wrote that young children still used words in a very limited and rather dull way. When shown a picture, the children described it in vague terms that could describe any number of pictures.

• Direction. This term referred to the ability to pay attention and stay on task. Binet noted that young children frequently forgot what they were doing. They tended to get carried away by fantasy, losing track of their real-world aims. When speaking, the children jumped from subject to subject, based on chance associations rather than logical connections.

• Criticism. This referred to the ability to make critical judgments. Binet noted that this ability, too, was quite limited in young children. The children naively accepted the most absurd explanations. They also told lies because of their weak ability to tell the difference between reality and fantasy. In addition, young children were highly suggestible.

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Anxiety and Depression 101

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