DIAGNOSIS OF THE COGNITIVE SPHERE
DIAGNOSTICS OF INTELLIGENCE AND MENTAL DEVELOPMENT
The question of what intelligence tests measure is crucial for a practical psychologist using them. The answer, it would seem, is obvious - intellect. But what is the intellect, how to determine its essence, nature, mechanisms - these are issues that remain open to the present day, despite more than a century of the study of intelligence by scientific psychology. But even before it was singled out as an independent science, philosophers and natural scientists viewed from various angles those characteristics of individuals that could be called intellectual, primarily thinking and learning. At the same time, such important problems related to intellect as the role of reason in human life (Democritus, Plato, Aristotle, F. Bacon) were raised and discussed, the possibilities of the mind in the knowledge of the surrounding life and of itself (Aristotle, Epicurus, Luna Scott, W. Occam , R. Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz), the origin and evolution of the mind (Diderot, Rousseau, T. Brown, J. Mill, JS Mill), its connection with feelings and sensory processes (Descartes, Leibniz, J. Locke, D. Gartley). Questions were examined about the nature and nature of intellectual activity (Aristotle, Plato, Hobbes), hypotheses were advanced on the patterns of functioning of thinking (J. Locke, D. Gartley, T. Brown), attempts were made to separate and study individual thinking techniques (J. Mill). Estimating the significance of the period described for the development of problems of the essence and nature of the intellect, it should be noted that the discovery of problems and posing questions are important for the progress of science.At the same time, many scientists, despite the naivete and immaturity of individual judgments, intuitively soundly approached the understanding of the dependence of the intellect on both the biological substrate (brain) and the characteristics of learning, accurately determining the functions of the intellect and asserting some important characteristics of intellectual activity.
The concept of intelligence (English intelligence) as an object of scientific research was introduced into psychology by the English anthropologist Francis Galton at the end of the 19th century. Being influenced by the evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin, he considered the hereditary factor to be the decisive cause of the emergence of any individual differences, both physical and mental. Previously, heredity was attributed only to mental retardation and genius, then Galton extended the influence of this factor to all levels of intelligence development - both the lowest and highest (talent) and medium.
According to F. Galton, the whole spectrum of intellectual abilities is hereditarily deterministic, and the role in the emergence of individual differences in the intelligence of education, upbringing, other external conditions of development was denied or recognized as insignificant.
The views of F. Galton on intelligence as a hereditary conditioned ability for many decades determined the views of psychologists engaged in the study of intelligence, and also influenced the methodology of its measurement. The creators of the first tests of intelligence A. Binet, J. Cattell, L. Thurmen and others believed that they measured the ability, independent of the conditions of development.
Beginning with Galton's work, the problem of intelligence acquired a special significance, which was not the case before. The popularity of his studies led to the emergence of a large number of publications on this issue - only in the West by the end of the 20th century. more than 900,000 works on intellect were published. The merit of F. Galton was also in the fact that he, as an anthropologist, disseminated the ideas of experimental research and measurement from the bodily characteristics of a person to his mental functions, including intellectual characteristics. In 1882, F. Galton organized an anthropometric laboratory in London in which any person could pay for his bodily weight (height, weight, muscle strength), and psychological parameters relating mainly to sensitivity, imaginative memory, motor functions. F. Galton proposed for the study of the connection of features (properties) the procedure for calculating correlations. He regarded man as a single whole, the totality of physical and mental attributes measured by objective methods, connected by a linear link and forming his personality. This approach was of fundamental importance for the development of research on the problem of intelligence.
A generalized understanding of intelligence as an ability required the concretization of answers to questions about essence, nature and external manifestations such characteristics. These questions were of interest to psychologists throughout the twentieth century. However, unequivocal answers to them have not yet been received. At present, in dictionaries, intellect is primarily defined as the ability to learn, reason, understand, catch truth, connections, meanings, analyze facts, etc.
During the XX century. the following approaches to understanding the essence of the intellect were subjected to verification and analysis:
- as an ability to learn (A. Binet, C. Spearman, S. Colvin, G. Woodrow and others);
- as an ability to operate with abstractions (L. Termen)
- as the ability to adapt to new conditions (V. Stern, L. Thurstone, Ed Clapared, J. Piaget).
Understanding intelligence as learning ability is common in zoopsychology, where the intellectual capabilities of different species of living organisms are compared based on the characteristics of their learning. In the studies of B. Skinner, E. Thorndike, A. Bitterman, it was found that the learning curves of many vertebrate species have the same shape, suggesting that they have similar learning abilities and, consequently, the same level of intelligence.
The understanding of intelligence as a learning ability was shared by some well-known psychologists of the early 20th century. Thus, in the early studies of A. Binet and Spearman, intellect and learning ability were actually identified. V. Hemmon believed that intelligence is measured by the ability to master knowledge and the knowledge that a person has. V. Diaborne called the intellect the ability to learn or gain experience, and the best test for intelligence is measuring the real progress in learning.
Modern psychologists who regard intelligence as an ability to learn, try to identify the criteria for learning, acting as indicators of intelligence. Can such a criterion be the speed of learning? According to many, no. For example, R. Snow and E. Jelou believe that to represent differences in intellect as differences in the speed of training is groundless, since the speed of learning depends on many factors (types of tasks, components within each task, teaching methods, interest in the subject, etc.) . In intellect, there are more differences than differences in speed. Attempts to individualize learning, based only on learning speed, failed: it was not possible to smooth individual differences in the success of training and in intellectual dimensions, even when everyone was learning the time that he needed. The speed factor can be considered an indicator of learning, but not the only one, but only one of a number. Comparison of individuals in learning by using the speed of learning is possible only if all other factors affecting learning are eliminated, the main ones of which are interest in the subject and the personality of the teacher.
More reasonable is the choice as criteria of intelligence, manifested in learning activity, ease of learning and ability to transfer. This position is held, for example, by J. Hunt and D. Ferguson, who consider that intellectual abilities are manifested in the ability to transfer the skill of solving some tasks to others, noticing their similarity. In addition, the intellect, manifested in the ability to learn, is considered by modern psychologists as a more complex characteristic in comparison with previous concepts. It lies not only in the assimilation of knowledge, skills and skills, but also in strategies as programs for solving various problems, and also manifests itself in the ease and ability of transfer of the learned to new situations.
Nevertheless, the definition of intelligence as an ability to learn can not fully satisfy psychologists. Educational activity is leading in a certain period of a person's life (child, adolescent and youth). The intellect of an adult person is manifested primarily in the success of solving other (not educational) problems - professional, everyday, etc. The success of solving these problems is not always related to the success of educational activities. A textbook example is Albert Einstein, who was a bad student at the school, failed at the exams at the Polytechnic University of Zurich, and later entered it and barely finished, having received bad reviews for the thesis.
The question remains whether there is a common factor, or a general ability to learn. According to A. Flammer, who analyzed eight studies of this problem performed by well-known American psychologists, only in one of them was found the general learning factor. Another researcher, K. Pavlik, found that the intercorrelations of the success of learning different types of problems range from 0.10 to 0.20. At present, there is no doubt that the learning ability depends on the content of the subject; in the learning is shown selectivity to the assimilation of different information.
The conclusion that can be drawn from the above works is the following: learning is a complex activity, and its success depends on many factors, and not only on the level of intelligence. Among these factors are the qualities of the pupil himself (motivation, character traits, etc.), and the circumstances external to the pupil (type of educational institution, methods of teaching, etc.). Therefore, we should not identify the success of learning with the intellect.
This is evidenced by the work of domestic psychologists, devoted to the problem of learning. Modern psychology and pedagogy know that the adequacy of the pedagogical impact of the individual characteristics of the student can significantly improve the effectiveness of teaching. Therefore, by the nature of learning, it is impossible to draw definitive conclusions about the merits of intelligence, even in school-age children. Of course, intelligence is only one of the learning factors, and learning is only one of many manifestations of intelligence.
Another notable understanding of the intellect as ability to operate with abstract relationships and symbols was shared by L. Thurmen, one of the creators of Shkal Stanford-Binet, J. Peter-son and other well-known psychologists early XX century. So, E. Thorndike imagined that intellect depends on abstract thinking and manifests itself in the ability to rely on abstract signs when solving problems.
However, the understanding of the intellect as a capacity for abstraction can not suit psychologists, since it limits the scope of intellectual abilities, excluding perceptual and motor fields from them. In addition, the widely accepted concept of practical intelligence does not presuppose the obligatory operation of abstractions. Such a definition indicates one of the parties in the manifestations of the intellect, one of the mechanisms for its implementation is verbal, leaving aside the question of its essence.
For a long time, the understanding of intelligence as the ability to adapt to new conditions was very common. Even V. Stern defined it as the ability to use the ways of thinking in relation to the goal and adapt them to new answers. Another psychologist early XX century. - R. Freeman defined it as an adaptation of intellectual goals and means to achieve them, as well as a balanced response to the whole world of things, ideas and personalities. Similar views were held by R. Pintner, L. Thurstone, Ed. Clapared, J. Piaget and others
In later studies examining mental activity from the point of view of its informational nature, in essence, the adaptive function of the intellect is again emphasized. These are definitions of intelligence as a "general strategy for the process of obtaining information", "the ability to use various kinds of information."
In the 70's. XX century. there were ideas about intelligence as a computer program. Here is how, for example, the famous psychologist G. Gardner said: "Generally speaking, intelligence can be defined as a neural mechanism or a computer system that is genetically programmed to respond to certain kinds of internal or external information." The main task of the researchers was to find an analogy between the course of human thought and the calculations of the computer solving the problem. Psychologists who are going this way are trying to interpret intellect in terms of information processes that arise in a person in solving a problem.
Prominent supporters of this approach to understanding intelligence are Arthur Jensen, Earl Hunt, Robert Sternberg, Herbert Simon. So, G. Saimaa tried to understand the intellect by studying the information processes that occur in a person who solves very complex problems, such as logical or chess. Together with A. Newell, he modeled on a computer the solution of such problems. Later, in the 1980s. Together with other scientists (R. Glezer, J. Larkia, A. Lesgold, and others), he investigated the solution of problems requiring a significant level of special competence, such as the setting of a medical diagnosis, physical tasks. Comparing the fulfillment of these tasks by highly qualified specialists and newcomers, psychologists found that the differences between these two groups of subjects are not in the nature of the information processes involved, but in the quantity and degree of organization of knowledge that were used for the solution.
One of the most famous researchers of the intellect of recent times R. Sternberg studied the flow of information processes in the performance of complex mental tasks, such as analogies, the completion of series and syllogisms. The main goal he saw was to find those characteristics that make some more effective information handlers compared to others. Sternberg developed specific tasks in which it was possible to identify the intellectual processes and strategies used by individuals in solving traditional test problems. He called his technique component analysis.
The main thesis of his theory, called triarchic, Sternberg formulated as follows: "Intellect can be defined as a kind of mental self-control (self-management) - the mental control of his life in a constructive, purposeful way" . Mental self-regulation contains three basic elements: adaptation to the environment, selection of new environmental influences and the formation of the environment. Adaptation is the adaptation of a person to the environment, selection is the choice of an environment compatible with the individual, one that can be adapted to, and the formation is the adaptation of the environment to the person.
So, a person can act in different ways with respect to the environment, but components of intelligence, which he uses, are universal. There are three of them:
- metacomponents (processes ensuring planning, monitoring and evaluation of problem solving);
- execution components (lower order processes used to execute meta-component commands);
are the components of acquiring knowledge (the processes used to teach how to solve problems).
All components are interdependent and act together when a person solves the problem. Problems differ in the degree of novelty, and people - with their ability to cope with new tasks and situations. This ability, according to R. Sternberg, depends on the degree of automation of information processes: more intelligent individuals are more capable of automating the information processes involved in the decision.
R. Sternberg's theory refers to the most famous and carefully developed theories of intelligence of the last time. Without dwelling on this detailed analysis, we will only point out that in it the intellect is regarded as an information system that serves the adaptation of man to the environment (in the broad sense of the word).
It should be noted that when identifying with a certain degree of intellectual fulfillment with the work of the information system, psychologists not only introduced new parameters for the manifestation of intelligence, but also accumulated new factual information regarding individual differences in these parameters. This became the starting point and prerequisite for subsequent work on the problem of intelligence and ensured their continuity. But we can not fail to point out the significant general lack of an information approach to intellect, which did not allow to solve positively many problems - not taking into account the fact that cognitive processes occur in the "arrangement" personal characteristics (emotions, motives, attitudes, etc.). The latter remain outside the analysis of researchers working within the framework of the information approach.
At the same time, information theories of intelligence also determine intelligence in terms of its adaptability. An indication of the adaptive nature of intelligence is what currently unites all of its researchers. Thus, in the collective monograph published under the editorship of R. Sternberg, the term intelligence is defined by the authors in different ways, but everyone agrees that it can be correlated with purposeful adaptive behavior.
The popularity of the definitions of intelligence, indicating its adaptive nature, is explained by the fact that they reveal the functional significance of the intellect. But the indication of the function, the purpose of using intelligence is not identical to clarifying its essence. However, the term adaptation too many-valued and unequally understood by psychologists. In particular, we can give the following interpretations:
F. Spencer denoted them with specific ways of adapting to life connected with racial differences;
- V. Stern called adaptation the activity corresponding to the goal;
- C. Spearman considered adaptation as a comprehension of the truth, an effective action in the given conditions;
- K. Feldman refers to survival as an adaptation in difficult circumstances, characteristic of a cultural or ethnographic group.
We have already discussed how widely the term adaptation R. Sternberg.
It should be noted that the broad interpretation of the concept of "adaptation" further complicates the possibility of using it as determining the essence of the intellect.
We can state that there are innumerable definitions of intelligence. Almost every researcher of this problem has his own idea of intelligence, which differs from others. This gave G. Gardner the grounds for expressing the following proposition: "Intelligence is such a word; we use it so often that we began to believe in its existence as a kind of reality, a measurable entity, and not as a convenient way to designate certain phenomena that may or may not exist. " The Spanish philosopher I ate at an international congress in Paris in 1955 recognized that the idea of the intellect is an abstraction, a descriptive tool, and not a reality, although behind this lies the dimension of a variety of intellectual accomplishments.
All of the above creates a lot of questions, some of which are most often asked themselves by researchers of this problem:
Is there something called intelligence, and if so, what is it?
Perhaps those psychologists who were disappointed in their attempts to understand the essence of the intellect and who denied the latter the right to exist as a real psychological characteristic are right?
Is it possible to consider that intellect is a fiction, a fiction of psychologists trying to explain the results of their test measurements?
The existence of the concept of "intellect" in ordinary consciousness, the similarity in his understanding of different groups of people, including those belonging to different cultures, the use of this term in everyday life for the evaluation of individuals and their ability to perform various activities certainly support the reality of the intellect as a psychological feature. Accordingly, it is necessary and methods for its diagnosis.
But, before turning to the discussion of these issues, one should consider the opinions of those psychologists who did not limit themselves to attempts to define intellect in general, but tried to analyze its structure.
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