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Intelligence: Are older people more intelligent?

JESSICA MAWU-KOENYA BANSAH
JESSICA MAWU-KOENYA BANSAH

Ruth is my name. I have two sons; Jaden and Jason. Jaden is intelligent but his younger brother Jason performs poorly in class. My husband is a lawyer and he expects both sons to accomplish excellent results. I tell him perhaps, Jason is perhaps good at something else so, we should give him time. However, after receiving his report cards, I am beginning to doubt my statement. How can two sons from the same parents have extremely opposite IQs? Is there hope for Jason? Is there no hope for him to excel in class as his brother does? In this article, we shall take an in-depth tour into intelligence.

The word intelligence has been in existence since the beginning of civilization and the most hunted tool among humans. Usually, it is used to refer to people who perform well in school. However, this definition may be wrong due to the various theories of intelligence. Defining an abstract word such as intelligence is not straightforward because of the different concepts associated with it. Nevertheless, intelligence has 3 main tools associated with it; Information (Knowledge), Memory and Learning.

Knowledge

Before an individual is deemed intelligent in an area, that person must have an idea about the particular field. For instance, to be a pharmacist, one has got to have knowledge about drugs, their mechanism and their effects. To be a carpenter, one has to have knowledge about the numerous tools and wood, when, how and what to use each wood for. The flexibility to gather information quicker than others will make one more intelligent.

Memory

The second aspect of Intelligence is memory. Memory is the ability to save lots of information and skills one has acquired and recall them when it is necessary. Thus, if a pharmacist acquires knowledge about drugs and forgets about them, such a person is considered unintelligent. In the same way, if a carpenter about wood and the different tools and equipment and is unable to remember them, then such a person is seen as unintelligent. Also, speed is vital in memory. Intelligent people are able to save the information and recall them easier than others.

Learning

The last tool of intelligence is Learning. Learning is basically the ability to place all the information an individual has gathered and saved into practice.  Robert Sternberg proposed a three-category of intelligence namely; Analytical, Creative and Practical intelligence.

Analytical intelligence is the ability to use all the knowledge you have gathered to evaluate a problem and solve it. This is usually done in schools when we are asked to find solutions to a problem in math or science.
Creative intelligence is the ability to travel beyond the information and skills you have gathered to create something fresh, different and interesting. It involves the power to imagine new and innovative ways of solving problems rather than repeating the old process.
Practical intelligence is the ability to use information and skills gathered to resolve practical problems. It involves adaptation. For instance, if a person is feeling hot, an individual would either increase the ventilation within the room or take something cold to cool his nerves.

There are several theories of intelligence, popular among them is the theory of multiple forms of intelligence proposed by American psychologist Howard Gardner. He proposed that there is no single form of intelligence but distinct independent multiple forms each representing skills and talents relevant to a category and one may excel in more than one category.

1. Linguistic intelligence

Individuals with this sort of intelligence enjoy reading, writing and public speaking. They are able to learn new words more quickly than others and are able to use the right words to express what they mean. They also have the ability to detect differences between words and typically end up being poets, journalists and novelists. It is easier for them to learn a new language.

2. Logical-mathematical intelligence

Such individuals are involved in abstract and critical thinking. In reasoning, these individuals use deductive and inductive reasoning. They are also great at puzzles and strategies. These individuals may find themselves being scientists and detectives.

3. Spatial intelligence

These individuals see the world in a 3D form. They excel in puzzles, drawing, painting and have beautiful imaginations. Such individuals may end up being architects, painters, artists, sailors,  pilots and sculptors.

4. Musical intelligence

These individuals might not necessarily be musicians but they understand the science of music. They are able to discern sounds, pitch, tones and rhythm. One may be able to learn new instruments with ease.

5. Naturalistic intelligence

These people understand living things and nature better. They are able to detect changes in the environment. They usually end up being agriculturalists, farmers and hunters.

6. Intra-personal intelligence

People who shine at this kind of intelligence know who they are and what they want. They are able to set goals and achieve them. They are their own motivational coach.

7. Inter-personal intelligence

Such individuals are able to understand people better. They are able to read emotions and detect how individuals are feeling. Such individuals become good counsellors, teachers or actors.

8. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence

They are able to coordinate their body with their mind.  They are good with motor functions. These individuals may end up being surgeons, athletes or dancers.

9. Existential intelligence

Individuals who excel with this type of intelligence continue to ask about the existence of humans. They have wild imaginations and ask questions regarding life, purpose and may end up being philosophers.

Other people think, these are just types of talents rather than intelligence. What do you think?

Factors that influence intelligence

1. Genetics

Intelligence is inherited but scientists think that genetics alone cannot determine the intelligence of an individual. Hence, the fact that you are intelligent does not mean your children will become like you, other factors influence it.

2. Environment

This is a main factor that influences intelligence. The environment where a person grows will significantly influence his or her intelligence. Remember, that the first tool of intelligence is gathering knowledge. If a person is bereft of knowledge and skills, it will influence his or her learning process which involves analytical, creative and practical processes.

To get back to the story, Jason, the one who performs poorly in school may excel in a different kind of intelligence or talent. Even though, they are from the same parents, the environment by which each boy grew up will influence his ability to learn.

Summarily, intelligence can all be classified into two main types; fluid and crystallized as proposed by Raymond Cattell and further explained by John Horn.

Fluid intelligence refers to the ability to solve problems without referencing prior knowledge but rather through the use of logic and abstract thinking. Fluid intelligence is claimed to be high as an individual grows and decreases with age. Hence, young people excel in this type of field making them more creative.

Crystallized intelligence refers to the ability to use acquired knowledge in solving problems. This type increases with age. As one grows old, the individual acquires more knowledge (experience) and remembers hence, he or she is able to perform a task with ease.

From this theory, it shows that both the young and old are intelligent in different way. Other think that intelligence is in the head, not in age. What do you think?

JESSICA MAWU-KOENYA BANSAH

A young lady who is excited to influence the society and world with the knowledge she has acquired.