Society will be smarter by 2018

Smart and ready to perform?

"Intelligence is the ability to solve complex problems, the ability to think and the ability to learn quickly," says Prof. Dr. Aljoscha Neubauer from the differential psychology department at the University of Graz. “Those who are more intelligent can grasp, understand and apply more complex content to all kinds of problems in less time.” Most scientists do not believe that the term intelligence is often used for numerous human abilities. “Intelligence is something purely cognitive. The terms 'emotional intelligence', 'social intelligence' and whatever else there is have nothing to do with intelligence. These are quite simply individual skills, ”says psychologist Prof. Dr. Detlef H. Rost, who works at the Philipps University of Marburg and the University of Southwest China in Chongqing.

Nevertheless, intelligence is seen as a complex construct that differentiates between different abilities. This is often represented with the so-called CHC model (Cattell-Horn-Carroll model), which consists of three levels. “Under the so-called general intelligence there are nine or ten different group factors, which in turn are subordinate to a large number of specific skills that are related to one another,” explains Rost. Group factors include logical thinking, literacy, short-term and long-term memory, and processing speed, among others. Specific skills for processing speed would be, for example, the speed of perception, the flow of writing or the speed of test processing. Reading and writing skills include reading comprehension, spelling and writing speed.

A basic distinction is made in this model between skills that are already created in the brain and those that have been acquired in the course of life. The latter is known as crystalline intelligence: factual knowledge, vocabulary and also social competence are part of it. In contrast, so-called fluid intelligence describes skills such as logical thinking, problem-solving skills and the ability to learn. This differentiation goes back to the American psychologist Raymond Cattell.