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How Different Psychologists Have Evaluated Intelligence

Primary mental abilities

Louis L. Thurstone (1887-1955) didn't approach intelligence as a single, general ability; his theory focused on seven different primary mental abilities:

  • Associative memory: The capacity to memorize and recollect.
  • Numerical ability: The capacity to solve arithmetic problems.
  • Perceptual speed: The capacity to see differences and similarities among objects.
  • Reasoning: The capacity to find rules.
  • Spatial visualization: The capacity to visualize relationships.
  • Verbal comprehension: The capacity to define and understand words
  • Word fluency: The capacity to produce words rapidly.

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When Psychology Became A Separate Scientific Discipline
When Psychology Became A Separate Scientific Discipline

When psychology developed as a science that was separate from biology and philosophy, they did not know how to describe the human mind and behaviour.

Different schools of psychology...

Psychology: Early Schools of Thought
  • Structuralism was the first school of thought and focused on breaking down mental processes into their most basic elements using techniques such as introspection. Major thinkers are Wilhelm Wundt and Edward Titchener.
  • Functionalism formed as a reaction to the theories of structuralism and focused on the role that the mental processes play instead of the mental processes themselves. Thinkers associated with this outlook include John Dewey, James Rowland Angell, and Harvey Carr.
Gestalt Psychology
  • This school of psychology is based on the idea that we experience things as unified wholes.
  • The approach started in the late 19th century in response to the molecular approach of structuralism.
  • Instead of breaking down thoughts and behaviour to their smallest parts, the gestalt psychologists believed you should view the whole of experience.
Learning theories

Learning theories develop hypotheses that describe how learning takes place.

The major theories of learning are the following: 

  • behaviorist theories 
  • co...
Behaviorism theories

The behaviorist perspectives of learning originated in the early 1900s. The main idea of behaviorism is that learning consists of a change in behavior because of obtaining, strengthening and applying associations between input from the world, and observations of the individual.

  • Learning is reinforced by exercise and repetition, followed by a positive reward.
  • Learning takes place when the right parts of more complex behavior are rewarded.
Cognitive psychology

Cognitive psychology started in the late 1950s and contributed to the move away from behaviorism.

  • Instead of viewing people as collections of responses to external stimuli, people are viewed as information processors.
  • Cognitive psychology was influenced by the computer that processes information, that became analogous to the human mind.
  • Cognitive psychology understands learning as absorbing knowledge, acting on it, and storing it in memory.
  • The main teaching methods are lecturing and reading textbooks, where the learner receives knowledge passively.
The need to understand psychology

The beginnings of psychology differ significantly from contemporary conceptions of the field. Modern psychology covers a range of topics, looking at human behavior en mental processes from the neur...

The Beginnings of Psychology

Psychology was not separate from philosophy until the late 1800s.

  • During the 17th century, philosopher Rene Descartes introduced the idea of dualism - that the mind and body were two entities that interact to complete the human experience.
  • While early philosophers relied on methods such as observation and logic, today's psychologists use scientific methodologies to draw conclusions about human thought and behavior.
  • Physiological research on the brain and behavior also contributes to psychology.
Psychology as a Separate Discipline
  • During the mid-1800s, a German physiologist Wilhelm Wundt outlined many of the major connections between the science of physiology and the study of human thought and behavior.
  • He viewed psychology as the study of human consciousness and tried to apply experimental methods to study internal mental processes.
  • His processes are known as introspection and seen as unreliable and unscientific today, but it helped to set the stage for future experimental methods.
  • The opening of his psychology lab In 1879 is considered to be the official start of psychology as a separate scientific discipline.