Guilford’s theory of intelligence

Intelligence is a complex construction which throughout history has been conceptualized in very different ways by various authors.

From a classical point of view they treat intelligence as a unique and unitary capacity to others who consider it to be a set of capacities independent of each other and through others in where the existence of sets of competences organized hierarchically was stipulated, a large number of theories and models have emerged which attempt to explain what intelligence is, how it is structured and how it acts.

One of these theories is the Guilford’s theory of intelligence.

    Intelligence as a construction

    As I just mentioned, there is a wide variety of views on what the term intelligence means, and the research conducted has varied widely in the focus of its study and analysis.

    However, in general we can consider that it is about the capacity or set of mental capacities that allow our adaptation, Allowing us to manage our cognitive resources in the most efficient way in the face of different situations.

    Thanks to intelligence, we are able to capture and analyze information correctly coming from within or from ourselves, establishing strategies and ways to manage resources and solve problems, plan our behavior and carry it out.

      Guilford’s theory of intelligence

      Joy Paul Guilford was an American psychologist contributions to the study of intelligence converge on a theory of intelligence which assumes alongside Raymond Cattell and Thurstone one of the models of the most relevant contributions to the conception of intelligence as a set of skills.

      Guilford’s model is based on the consideration of intelligence as the process by which human beings transform media information into mental content, so that it has an operational view. The author establishes three separate and independent dimensions based on the perception, the transformation of information and the emission of responses.

      More precisely, he talks about input elements or contents, operations and output elements or products. Its model is therefore three-dimensional, and is generally represented in the form of a cube in which the interactions between the three main dimensions are interdependent to form up to 120 different factors.

      It is a taxonomic model which considers the different capacities as non-hierarchical, the different capacities being independent. Intelligence is therefore a set of skills separated from each other that allow us to adapt to the environment.

        The three dimensions of Guilford

        For Guilford’s theory of intelligence, the three main dimensions of each of the skills that make up intelligence are three in number: the content or perceptions, the operations that are carried out with them and finally the products or the result of “ develop the first ”.

        1. The content

        By content we mean all of this collection of information and data collected, whether from the external environment or from the subject itself. It is mainly about data, without any work being done on it. In short, we are talking about the basic building block from which the body works to develop content from operations.

        In the content we can find different types of information.

        • Figurative: This is the visual information that we capture, i.e. the images
        • symbolic: It is also visual information, but in this case it is elements used as signs of a language to represent a concept or an idea and which do not make sense in themselves.
        • semantics: Mental content related to the meaning of symbols.
        • Behavioral or behavioral: All these data resulting from the link with the environment or with other individuals. Understands gestures, desires, intentions or attitudes.

        2. The processes or operations

        Operations refer to the set of procedures that the organization performs to transform input information into output information. In other words, it is the processing of information from the content in such a way that the products are generated in the form of a mental or physical response.

        Within these operations we find the following processes:

        • cognition: Knowledge or understanding of information. It is based on the ability to extract meaning from the information captured.
        • Memory: It is based on withholding information in order to work with it at a given time.
        • convergent production: Creation of possible alternatives from the information obtained previously. This involves the agglutination of prior information to select the appropriate response.
        • divergent production: It is an act of creating alternatives different from the usual alternatives and contained in the report, based on the generation of an innovative response from the data obtained without.
        • Evaluation: Carry out comparisons between the different contents in order to establish relationships.

        3. The products

        The products can be understood as the result of the transformations carried out by operations on the content. Thus, it refers to the expression or response they generate, whether behavioral or mental.

        Within the products, Guilford’s theory of intelligence considers the existence of several typologies.

        • Units: Simple and basic answers. A word, an idea or an elementary action.
        • Classes: Conceptualizations or organizations of similar units in a certain sense.
        • relationships: It is the idea of ​​a link between the different information handled. For example, lightning is related to thunder.
        • systems: Organizations of various information that interact with each other.
        • transformations: Any modification made to the captured information.
        • implications: Establish connections between information suggested by a particular element without that connection specifically appearing as information. Causal or covariate relationships are established between items.

        Divergent thinking and creativity

        Whether Guilford’s theory of intelligence is more or less valid, one of the main and most important contributions to the design of intelligence is the incorporation of divergent thinking as a distinctive feature that is part of the ‘intellect. previously, the creation of alternatives was not considered an indication of intelligence, Base your study on finding a single correct alternative.

        De Guilford, however, work has started on the study of creativity as part of intellectual capacity. Generating new response alternatives that are equally effective with each other, or even more effective than the pre-established ones, allows changes to be made and action to be more flexible in known situations, and may generate new results. In fact, today the presence of creativity is a basic requirement for talking about subjects with intellectual talent.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Hernangómez, L. and Fernández, C. (2012). Personality and differential psychology. CEDE PIR preparation manual, 07. CEDE: Madrid.

        • Guilford. JP (1977). The nature of human intelligence. Buenos Aires, Paidós.

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