As one might expect for such a complex and far-reaching subject, there are many different approaches regarding theories of intelligence, and a number of different schools of thought. However, within those myriad philosophies, we can roughly divide them into two key groups to help us understand them as a whole, and to assist us in understanding IQ test results.
The first of these schools of thinking assumes that there exists one general ability, or general intelligence. The second identifies multiple intelligences of multiple types, with adherents to this group believing that intelligence comes in several distinct and independent forms. Both theories fit into the notion of the IQ test, and it’s likely that both theories will stick around, challenge one another, and feed into one another for many years and decades to come.
The Theory of One Intelligence
Although perhaps less popular today, there are still psychologists and scientists who cleave to the notion that there exists only one type of intelligence.
This theory arose from the fact that, although intelligence appears to have different and distinct components, they are all connected, interconnected, and correlated with one another. This school of thought is usually called the General Intelligence theory, commonly abbreviated to ‘the G factor’.
General Intelligence theorists might be considered the classicists of their field, as their ideas stretch all the way back to antiquity. That’s not to say that their notions are outdated, however; with such a nebulous and potentially perspective-driven subject as human intelligence and IQ test results, there quite naturally exists the potential for several different theories of intelligence, none of which can easily be ‘proven’ right or wrong.
Multiple Intelligence Theories
Certified IQ tests and international IQ tests use several different components to come up with a consistent IQ test result. As such, it would be easy to imagine that in answering IQ test questions, several distinct intelligences are working alongside each other. This is the basis for Multiple Intelligence Theories.
Theorists who base their ideas upon this notion believe that there are multiple, independent, and identifiable forms of intelligence. For example, an individual might be fantastic at mental arithmetic, but may struggle with learning languages, or creative problem solving. Another might be excellent at spatial awareness and logic, but may be completely devoid of artistic talent. This in itself suggests that there are distinctive intelligence types, and that we each possess greater or weaker levels of strength in each.