Today, many researchers have offered their efforts into the study of intelligence in terms of its definition, ways of determining the level of an individual’s aptitude as well as factors influencing the given topic. Approaches regarding the same have rejected the idea of a single way of assessing intelligence, and the several techniques that have been raised are quite controversial towards each other in terms of different concerns. In recent years, several cognitive psychology researchers have delved into the issue, among them being Robert Sternberg, Howard Gardner and John Horn (Yekovich, 1994). Each of the identified scholars has come up with a concept of measuring intellectual abilities as well as the influences. Sternberg’s concept has three theories that are concerned with context, experience, and cognitive components. Gardner claims there are seven independent intelligences, and recognizes experience as a major influence, while Horn suggest a theory with two factors namely, fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence, that also recognize experience as an influence in an individual’s intelligence. Amongst the three scholars, Gardner offers the best concept since it recognizes diverse intelligence influences especially experience and genetic makeup, amongst others.

Gardner makes a claim that intelligence is not based on one aspect but rather on a series of unpredictable independent departments loosely related to each other. Through this, he suggests that a person may evidence intelligence on certain things since strength in a given area does not guarantee the same strength in another area. According to Gardner (1999), “intelligence is a biopsychological potential to process information that can be activated in a cultural setting to solve problems or create products that are of value in a culture,” (34). Hence, he does not view intelligence as the level of a person’s IQ, considering that those with a high quotient may not match the same in all skills. On the contrary, Gardner views intelligence as a mixed aspect of logical-mathematical, linguistic, musical, spatial, bodily kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal aspects (Yekovich, 1994).

Further, agreeing that intelligence on each of this elements is influenced by their experience levels with regard to a particular knowledge explains why a person brought up in a different environment with different experiences will have more knowledge concerning the particular setting. This theory is more superior as it explains the diversity noted in people’s intelligence leading to different talents in certain skills and lack of intelligence in others. In my opinion, intelligence cannot be based or assessed by one aspect or approach, since the brain is made up of many different aspects that influence the level of one’s knowledge. Hence, Gardner offers a better explanation in the given issue.

Sternberg theory fails because it incorporates more of what one would expect to act as intelligence influences in a person considering he does give a good account of experience, context and cognitive components. Experience plays a big role in determining intelligence levels considering it is one way of learning. Sternberg only suggests three processes that influence the intelligence of a person, which are analytical thinking focusing on planning, creative thinking focusing on developing new ideas and practical thinking that focuses on experiences and the environment (Giger, 2006).

Similarly, Horn and his advisors have suggested a two broad approach towards defining intelligence. His theory claims that knowledge is influenced by fluid and crystallized abilities (Yekovich, 1994). Fluid abilities mean the capacity of a person to reason and come up with solutions in a new environment while crystallized intelligence is the ability of a person to attain knowledge concerning a particular culture (Cherry, 2011). Horn’s theory is quite weak because it is quite broad and bases intelligence on two aspects, personal judgment and grasping capability. This theory is further weakened by the fact that it does consider experience as part of acquiring an individual’s intelligence. Therefore, Gardner’s theory provides a better approach in understanding human intelligence.



Cherry, K. (2011). Fluid Intelligence vs. Crystallized Intelligence. Retrieved from

Gardner, H. (1999). Intelligence reframed: Multiple intelligences for the 21st century. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Giger, M. (2006). Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Human Intelligence. Retrieved from

Yekovich, F.R. (1994). Current Issues in Research on Intelligence. Retrieved from


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