How can you tell if someone is smart? What kind of impression did you get from them? Are they better at chess games? Or maybe they are regular winners at some local pub quiz events?

When we think someone is smart, we think they have intelligence. This is true, but what kind of intelligence? Human intelligence is not simply a generalised intelligence or a single trait.

Intelligence is Not So General.

When we spend some time with someone who is highly intelligent, we will somehow know their brain are sharp. We sense it from the way they think and talk. Even in casual conversations, their intelligence shines through.

We have seen tons of evidence in real life when high intelligence is not necessarily reserved for elite groups. Often times, the brain of a brilliant physicist is not any superior to that of a music or art prodigy.

Human intelligence is multidimensional. It’s not simply a generalised intelligence or a single trait.

Gamma High IQ Society

In psychology, there are at least two independent intelligence factors: fluid intelligence (or Gf), and crystallised intelligence (or Gc).

Spearman, a well-known psychologist, thought of intelligence as a broad mental capacity of a person. If someone could excel in certain areas, they tended to also do well in other related areas. And that should make a super-genius possible, right?

However, it is Spearman’s student, Raymond Cattell, who thought of intelligence not merely as a general aptitude. Cattell came up with, not one, but two independent intelligence factors.

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Fluid Intelligence and Crystallised Intelligence

Based on Cattell’s view, intelligence is no longer a case of one size fits all.

1. Fluid Intelligence (Gf)

Fluid intelligence is the ability to think, reason and tackle new problems by using logic in new situations. This means one can solve a problem without depending on pre-existing experience, knowledge and education.

Think about it this way. When we are trying to solve a maths puzzle or figure out a new route home, we are working on our fluid intelligence.

People who have well developed fluid Intelligence are normally abstract thinkers. They often use analogies and can reason quite well.

2. Crystallised Intelligence (Gc)

Crystallised intelligence, on the contrary, is the ability to use knowledge acquired through experience and education.

When we handle tasks that require our pre-existing knowledge – e.g. recalling facts, formulae, steps, skills or information learned in school or from past experience, we are working on our crystallised intelligence.

Obviously, people who ace their exams or smash it in quiz events which require general knowledge have high crystallised intelligence.

Can You Improve Them Both?

Fluid intelligence and crystallised intelligence are independent and different traits. Neither of the intelligence is the result of the other. However, they often work together and we can improve them to a certain degree.

As we continue to accumulate new knowledge and grow our understanding of the world over time, our crystallised intelligence has increased. Meanwhile, the more learning and new experience we are exposed to, the stronger neural connections we get.

Even though fluid intelligence tends to decline with age, regular cognitive and mental workouts help our brain to stay agile and sharp. The better our brain functions, the better we learn.

Fluid intelligence tends to decline with age. However, regular cognitive and mental workouts help our brain to stay agile and sharp.

Gamma High IQ Society

In short, intelligence is not a general single trait, but a set of complex traits. Crystallised intelligence is the ability to successfully use existing knowledge that was previously acquired through learning or experience. Fluid intelligence is the ability to apply the existing knowledge and intellectual skills to novel situations. It reflects the brain’s flexibility and creativity.

In order to solve complex problems effectively and live wisely, both fluid intelligence and crystallised intelligence need looking after.

Gamma Tip: Read books on a variety of subjects to expand your vocabulary and general knowledge. Train your working memory. Have fun with your favourite mental workout games regularly. Live a healthy lifestyle. These will keep your brain stimulated and stay sharp.


All rights reserved. Used by Permission of Gamma High IQ Society and Superbrain Code.

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