Theories of Intelligence

Intelligence, according to Paul Kline, refers to a person's ability to learn, understand, and deal with novel situations. The intelligent person may be viewed as quick-witted, acute, keen, sharp, canny, astute, bright, and brilliant. Robert Sternberg, in Intelligence Applied: Understanding and Increasing Your Intellectual Skills (1986), describes intelligence as comprising a very wide array of cognitive and other skills; he does not see intelligence as a single ability.

After examining many theories of intelligence, Sternberg developed the triarchic (three-part) theory of intelligence. In the componential sub-theory, the first part of the theory, intelligence is related to the internal world of the individual. For example, a person who is intelligent in this area obtains high scores on standardized tests and is excellent in analytical thinking. The second part of the theory, the experiential subtheory, specifies intelligence in situations. A person who is intelligent in handling novel tasks with creativity but who may not have the best standardized test scores is demonstrating intelligence in this area. In the third part of the theory, the contextual subtheory, intelligence is related to the external world of the individual. For example, a person who is able to achieve success when interacting on the job or when influencing other people is demonstrating contextual intelligence.

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