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The Psychology Behind Creative Intelligence

Before we dive into creative intelligence in psychology, let’s look at two of the most common theories that define intelligence. These theories are the triarchic theory of intelligence developed by Robert Sternberg and the Multiple Intelligences Theory proposed by Howard Gardner.

The two psychologists attempt to expand on the types of intelligence based on different explanations and measurements. Theories of intelligence in psychology have contributed to a better understanding of teaching students with a full range of intellectual abilities. Teachers can now give students a chance who may not identify with standardized learning techniques.

Let’s explore an in-depth interpretation of these ideas.

Triarchic Theory of Intelligence

The Triarchic Theory of Intelligence

Robert Sternberg’s triarchic theory of intelligence got its name because it sees intelligence as made up of three parts; analytical, creative, and practical (Sternberg, 1988). It emphasizes the processes of intelligence and views emotions as distinct from intelligence. Sternberg theorized that individuals may score higher or lower in each intelligence realm based on their ability to achieve success within their sociocultural context and how they interact with everyday life. Let’s discuss the definitions of each theory of intelligence and the psychology behind them.

Analytical intelligence

Analytical intelligence is associated with academic problem-solving tasks and computations. According to Sternberg, analytical intelligence is applied to analyze, evaluate, judge, compare, and contrast. Those who successfully use these components to problem-solving often have a reputation as “book smart” or “school smart.” Individuals who score high in analytical intelligence will usually do well on intelligence tests with abstract nature questions that require a single correct answer, like the SAT.

Creative intelligence

Creative intelligence in psychology is related to the ability to solve problems by imagining new and unique solutions. Creative intelligence is strongly associated with individuals who have a knack for storytelling, art, and developing new ideas. Someone with impressive creative intelligence would be highly innovative and imaginative. Let’s use Elon Musk as an example. While he may score high in analytical and practical intelligence, his novel solutions and innovative ideas demonstrate strong creative intelligence in the workplace.

Practical intelligence

Practical intelligence is often associated with “street smarts” and common sense. People with practical intelligence will find solutions that apply to everyday life through knowledge based on their experiences. According to Sternberg, this psychological theory of intelligence deviates from the traditional understanding of IQ. For example, individuals who score high in practical intelligence are described as having tacit knowledge. This means they can work in an environment successfully based on the knowledge they have not necessarily been taught, but what they’ve learned from previous experiences.

8 types of intelligence

Multiple Intelligences Theory

Multiple Intelligences Theory is a more recent development in intelligence psychology that was established by Howard Gardner. However, his theory needs more research to garner support and to determine an official means of measurement. Gardner, a Harvard psychologist and student of Erik Erikson, theorizes that everyone possesses eight kinds of intelligence. His criteria assert that there are multiple domains of intelligence. They include:

  1. Linguistic intelligence: This is a strong understanding of language functions, sounds, and words. This intelligence may allow someone to learn different languages quickly.
  2. Logical-mathematical intelligence: This form of intelligence encourages a person’s ability to see patterns in numbers and solve problems with reason and logic.
  3. Musical intelligence: Strong musical intelligence correlates with a great appreciation and understanding of music fundamentals. This intelligence also allows for strong musical abilities.
  4. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence: Strength in this intelligence allows for control over physical movements and endurance. Athletes or coaches demonstrate these characteristics.
  5. Spatial intelligence: This intelligence establishes spatial awareness concerning objects and how they move around in space. Architects and choreographers possess this ability.
  6. Interpersonal intelligence: People with a dominant empathetic nature score high in this intelligence. They also have well developed social skills. This allows them to be more sensitive to the emotional states of others.
  7. Intrapersonal intelligence: This form of emotional intelligence is demonstrated by those who can find personal motivation with ease, direct their behavior, and who have a commitment to reaching their goals.
  8. Naturalist intelligence: This intelligence provides the capacity to understand nature and connect with the natural world’s species. Biologists and environmentalists would score high in this intelligence.

Definitions of the types of intelligence

How to Measure Intelligence

How do we measure and classify intelligence? Intelligence measurements like an “IQ” describe the score earned on a test designed to measure one’s intelligence capabilities. However, there are much more complex and descriptive theories of intelligence in psychology that break away from the standardized evaluations we are so often graded on.

Charles Spearman, a British psychologist, believed that intelligence consists of a general factor, g, that can be measured and compared. However, more theories determine intelligence is based not on one aspect but several other abilities. For example, Raymond Cattell’s methodology divides general intelligence into two types of intelligence as a means of measurement. They are crystallized intelligence and fluid intelligence.

Crystallized intelligence and fluid intelligence

Crystallized intelligence is based on facts and rooted experience. It increases with age as we accumulate knowledge from our experiences and is measured by our ability to retrieve that information. When we learn new things, remember, and recall that information, we call on crystallized intelligence. It helps us find solutions to specific, tangible problems.
Cattell defines fluid intelligence as “the ability to perceive relationships independent of previous specific practice or instruction concerning those relationships.” It relates to our ability to see complex relationships and solve abstract problems. Fluid intelligence is defined as being separable from learning, education, and experience.

More About Creative Intelligence in Psychology

While you may be wondering how to boost your creative intelligence, psychologists have wondered about the psychology behind creative intelligence. Many types of creativity tests are designed to measure convergent thinking. One of the most common is the Remote Associates Test or RAT, which Sarnoff Mednick introduced in the 1960s. It is based on his idea that creativity requires the ability to associate ideas that are considered unrelated. The test asks a series of questions that consist of three common, unrelated stimulus words. The test taker must provide a word that, in some way, ties the three words together.

The second most common is called the Unusual Uses Task. This test requires the participant to think of as many ways to use an object as they can. The item presented is usually as simple as a piece of paper. The responses are measured for creativity by rating them on fluency, originality, flexibility, and elaboration. Are you interested in measuring your creativity? Test yourself with these creative challenges.

Another subject up for debate is how we define creativity. How do we decide if something is creative or not? Some psychologists have turned to the definition recently adapted from the three criteria that the U.S. Patent Office uses to determine if an invention is unique enough for patent protection. The designs are rated on originality, usefulness, and surprise.

Originality, usefulness, and surprise

  • Originality: The idea should be unique and unrelated to the work of others.
  • Usefulness: The idea should be valuable or work to solve a specific problem. If a product is original but can’t be utilized, it will not receive a rating in usefulness.
  • Surprise: The idea should be non-obvious and built upon a new foundation of knowledge.

Theories of Intelligence in Psychology

For more information on intelligence theories in psychology, stay up to date with smartboost’s newsletters and insights. Learn how these theories are applied in digital marketing, data science, and more.

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