Intelligence : A Brief History

Hiser Elizabeth, Francis Carl
The issue discussed in this paper is the loss of meaning for the expression 'intelligence'. The term taken from everyday language has been applied to various psychological definitions, theories or psychometric tests across a period of time which has contributed to the corrosion in meaning of the original term. Attempts by science to isolate and identify the qualities or attributes of intelligence have altered if not entirely destroyed the meaning of the expression. A brief review of the history
more » ... of the modern investigation into intelligence is thereby presented. Spearman as early as 1927 wrote that "in truth, 'intelligence' has become a mere vocal sound, a word with so many meanings that finally it has none' (p. 14). Sixty years later, Jensen (1987) repeated the same sentiment: "For scientific purposes, then, 'intelligence' can best be thrown out altogether " (p. 196). From the 14 experts who contributed their views on the nature of intelligence in an issue of the Journal of Educational Psychology in 1921, to a symposium of 25 experts (Sternberg & Detterman, 1986) , there seems to be almost as many conceptualisations and definitions of intelligence as there are experts to write them. All of this indicates that respected writers in psychology find it hard to agree on either a definition of intelligence or to what extent certain factors affect it. This paper explores the issue and problems of measurement bound up in the confusion around defining the concept of intelligence. Discussion and suggestions as to how language usage around the concept might be more articulate is offered.
doi:10.18956/00006382 fatcat:q54w7inzyrf3hl7sbgspqp6vsu