One of the principal truths that IQ tests – especially international IQ tests which do not rely on any specific language or cultural background – suggest is that there are identifiable intelligence factors in any individual human brain.
We see this all the time in our everyday lives: any time spent among friends or colleagues will show that some people simply think in different ways to other people, or that certain personality traits and types will lean towards different ways of thinking and solving problems. This goes some way towards explaining why certified IQ tests are so important in the world of employment; companies often need to seek out people who think and solve problems in highly specific ways, and certified IQ tests will help them identify the individuals needed for particular tasks and roles.
The scientific community has long since worked out a number of distinctions when it comes to human intelligence and the way the mind works. One of the most important – and most commonly referred to – distinctions is that of fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence.
Let’s take a closer look at these two terms.
IQ Tests and Fluid Intelligence
Fluid intelligence, as the name suggests, is intelligence which involves flexibility of thinking, and the ability to reason both creatively and in abstract terms. This is especially important when it comes to solving unexpected problems, or problems which do not present a clear-cut solution. Typically, those in possession of a high level of fluid intelligence will not rely on academic learning when it comes to problem solving, and will be good at ‘thinking outside the box’ in situations which call for solutions.
In some types of IQ test questions, such as those which call for pattern identification or visualisation skills, fluid intelligence becomes much more significant.
The majority of IQ test questions will involve a degree of crystallized intelligence. This form of intelligence refers to the individual’s ability to accumulate skills and knowledge, and to utilise them practically. For example, we all learn at school how to formulate an argument in an essay. Those who possess high levels of crystallised intelligence will be able to use those tools in their writing, as well as in other aspects of everyday life.
The same could be said for mathematical formulae; those with high levels of crystallized intelligence will be able to both memorise those formulae, and then later utilise them to solve complex problems. As such, it is often argued that crystallized intelligence is considerably more influenced by environmental factors and learning ‘experiences’ than fluid intelligence: if you go to a top school, and are taught or trained by great teachers, your crystallized intelligence is much more likely to be higher than somebody who encountered the opposite situation.