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General intelligence

General intelligence, often referred to as "g-factor" or "g", is a term in psychology that describes an individual's general cognitive ability to solve problems, reason, learn, and adapt to new situations in a variety of domains . It is a broad and all-encompassing mental ability that goes beyond specific skills or knowledge in a particular field. General intelligence refers to the basic, underlying cognitive competence that influences a person's ability to perform various intellectual tasks.

Measuring general intelligence

General intelligence is usually measured using specific IQ tests. These tests are designed to assess a person's cognitive abilities, such as logical reasoning, problem solving, pattern recognition, memory, and verbal and math skills. Scores from these tests are used to estimate an individual's general level of intelligence. IQ tests are designed to have a mean score of 100 and a standard deviation of 15 in the average population, so most people fall between 85 and 115. A higher IQ score indicates a higher level of general intelligence.

Prediction of job satisfaction

General intelligence is one of the best predictors of success at work, which applies in the following areas, among others:

  • Problem Solving and Decision Making: Individuals with higher general intelligence tend to be better at analyzing complex problems and making informed decisions, which is key in many professional roles.
  • Learning and Adaptation: General intelligence allows individuals to quickly learn and adapt to new tasks, technologies, and work environments. This skill is especially valuable in today's rapidly changing job market.
  • Communication: High general intelligence is often associated with better verbal and written communication skills, making it easier for individuals to convey ideas, negotiate, and collaborate effectively in teams.
  • Leadership: In leadership roles, individuals with higher general intelligence tend to excel because of their ability to understand the bigger picture, create strategic plans, and effectively lead and motivate their teams.
  • Time Management: General intelligence is associated with better time management skills, allowing individuals to prioritize tasks, meet deadlines, and manage work-related stress more effectively.
  • Innovation and creativity: People with higher general intelligence often show greater creativity and innovation in problem solving, which can lead to the development of new products, processes and ideas in a workplace.
  • Career advancement: General intelligence is often linked to career advancement and earning potential. Many high paying and prestigious jobs require individuals to have above average intelligence.

Fluid and crystallized intelligence

General intelligence is a multifaceted concept, and researchers have identified two main components within it: crystalline intelligence and fluid intelligence. These two components represent different aspects of an individual's cognitive abilities and how they develop over time.

  1. Crystallized intelligence
    • Definition: Crystallized intelligence refers to the knowledge, skills, and information that a person has acquired over a lifetime. It represents an accumulation of facts, vocabulary and expertise acquired through education, experience and exposure to various aspects of life.
    • Features:
    • Stable and cumulative: Crystallized intelligence increases with age and experience. As individuals learn and acquire new information, their crystallized intelligence increases.
    • Context-dependent: It is greatly influenced by cultural and environmental factors. Crystallized intelligence is determined by a person's background, education and knowledge acquired in specific fields.
    • Measured by Vocabulary and General Knowledge: Tests of crystallized intelligence often assess a person's vocabulary, general knowledge, and ability to apply information acquired over time.
  2. Fluid intelligence:
    • Definition: Fluid intelligence refers to an individual's ability to think abstractly, reason logically, and solve problems independently of prior knowledge or experience. It reflects one's ability to adapt to new situations, cope with novel challenges, and think on one's feet.
    • Features:
    • Non-cumulative: Unlike crystallized intelligence, fluid intelligence peaks in early adulthood and gradually declines with age. It depends less on prior learning and more on cognitive processing ability.
    • Culturally neutral: Fluid intelligence is considered more culturally neutral because it relies on abstract reasoning and problem-solving skills that are not strongly influenced by cultural or educational factors.
    • Measured by tasks requiring novel problem solving: Tests of fluid intelligence include tasks such as pattern recognition, working memory, and abstract reasoning. These tasks do not rely on existing knowledge.

It is important to note that although crystallized and fluid intelligence represent different aspects of general intelligence, they are not completely independent. They often work together to facilitate an individual's cognitive functioning. For example, crystallized knowledge acquired over time can support problem-solving skills by providing relevant information and context. In contrast, fluid intelligence is more about the ability to think flexibly, adapt, and learn new things, even when prior knowledge is not directly applicable.

Both aspects of general intelligence are valuable in different contexts. Crystallized intelligence is critical for tasks that require domain-specific knowledge and expertise, while fluid intelligence is essential for adapting to new situations, learning new skills, and solving complex problems that require abstract thinking and adaptability.