Intelligence in Children

Intelligence in Children

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At first glance, it seems clear what intelligence is. But trying to define it is not easy at all. Intelligence is not the only, simple and clearly limited function of the human brain. It consists of a variety of different psychic activities that go without clear limits from one to the other functions of the psyche. Therefore, which component is given the highest importance, that is how intelligence is defined.

Here are some of the most popular definitions:

  • Intelligence is the ability of the individual to use abstract thinking, to use abstract concepts to solve various problems (According to Terman L.M.)
  • Intelligence is the sum or total ability of the individual to act usefully, to think reasonably and successfully in his or her environment (According to Wechsler D.)
  • Intelligence is the ability to use personal experience to adapt to new situations (According to Goodenough F.)
  • Intelligence is a sensitivity to problems, a thinking ability that one successfully manages in emerging situations (According to Bujas Z.)

Intelligence is emphasized in human reactions and the way they deal with difficulties and life problems in emerging situations, where neither their instinct nor the prior knowledge help them.

Intelligent behavior differs from many reactions in its adaptability to change when one reaches a conclusion in a situation of emergence, immediately, not after more of the same or less similar situation.

According to Bujas Z. these are the three main thought operations that participate more or less in any intellectual reaction:

  1. Understanding the problems
  2. Constructive imagination in solving problems
  3. The criticality in choosing the right solution

That is why most psychologists, in defining intelligence, put human ability to use their experience and adapt to new situations.

But they differ in the theories of how human intelligence is structured, what it is composed of, and which elements can be broken down.

Thus, Thorndike E.L. divides intellectual functions into three groups:

  1. Abstract intelligence – the ability to use terms
  2. Mechanical intelligence – the ability to handle specific objects and materials
  3. Social intelligence – the ability to successfully interact with other people

Thorndike E.L. reveals several factors in intelligent human behavior:

  • Ability for spatial orientation
  • Ability to observe
  • Ability to use numbers and words
  • Memory
  • Ability to inductive and deductive thinking
  • Ability to reason

According to Spearman C., among all human intellectual reactions reveals the presence of a common, general psychological (factor G), a kind of “mental energy”. The intensity of that factor depends on the capacity of one’s intelligence. But besides the G factor, there are various other special factors (S factors), according to which individual intelligence differs not only quantitatively but also qualitatively.

A man is born with a certain innate disposition for intellectual behavior. Therefore, no matter how stimulated, intelligence cannot be developed beyond the limit of innate predispositions. But intelligence does not always evolve to its ultimate possibilities. The extent to which it develops depends on the different physiological factors in the person, and then on the social and economic circumstances in which he or she develops. Genetic predisposition plays a major role in determining to what extent a person can be intelligent, and the impact of the environment on his development contributes to the extent to which he develops intelligence.

* r=correlation coefficient 0=minimum correlation 1=maximum correlation

Research by Newman H.H., Conrad H.S. and Leahy A.M. show that there is a positive statistical correlation (r = 0.50) in the level of intelligence of parents and children, i.e., siblings. This correlation is greater when comparing intelligence of dizygotic twins (r = 0.63) and is even more significant in monozygotic twins (r = 0.88).

In monozygotic twins, the correlation coefficient (r) should be at least (r = 1) if only genetic predispositions affect the development of intellectual ability, so that their intelligence should be identical. But the fact that the correlation coefficient of their intellectual abilities is less than (r = 1) indicates that even in identical twins there is a difference in the level of intellectual development. This proves that in addition to hereditary genetic predispositions, other factors influence the development of intelligence. This finding is confirmed by the fact that the correlation coefficient of intellectual development of identical twins decreases from (r = 0.88) to (r = 0.77) if these children grow up in different living environments since their birth.

If one compares the intellectual development of the adopted children with that of the stepfather and stepmother, after some years of living with them, the correlation is still positive, but insignificant (from r = 0.07 to r = 0.20). Interestingly, children’s intellectual development tends to equate their intellect with the average intellectual development of the environment in which they live.

Thus, children of above-average intelligent parents are usually slightly less gifted than them, and children of parents of below-average intelligence are often more intelligent than their parents.

ParentsChildren
IQ 128 IQ 125
IQ 120 IQ 117
IQ 105 IQ 104
IQ 91 IQ 95
IQ 97 IQ 96
M. C.’s Study of The IQ Correlation of Parents and Children

For the intellectual disposition of intellectual development to be at its full capacity, some psychophysical preconditions must be fulfilled. The child must first of all have healthy sense organs, especially hearing and sight. They allow him to have a better idea of ​​himself and his environment. Hearing is more important than the type of realization of a child’s intellectual capacity. With the help of hearing, the child hears the speech of the people around him and with that he begins to speak.

Through the speech of others, the child is able to:

  • Obtain large amounts of knowledge and abstract notions
  • Shapes the thoughts
  • Expresses the mental development
  • Learns to create and use concepts

Normal intelligence is the expression of a normally developed brain as an organ. Properly developed brain cell formations and connective nerve fibers allow the child to retain the impressions he or she has acquired from the environment to connect, process and accumulate them in the form of life experiences. In this way, many individual impressions create concrete and abstract notions that we use in the thinking process.

Damage to brain tissue during intrauterine life, during childbirth or in early childhood are the main causes of incomplete development of mental functions and thus intelligence, so the child remains poorly understood.

The development of intelligence is also influenced by the development of motor skills, although this is also a reflection of the child’s individual intellectual abilities. A well-developed child fits better in a larger living space than a child with a weaker motor. Thus, the child gathers more information about the world around it, and the intellect gains more information through which its intelligence can be maximized.

Psychology has long maintained statistics on the quota of intelligence in boys and girls. Numerous studies on this topic have shown that there is no quantitative difference between the sexes. Although there are more boys among the above average intelligent children, there are also more boys among the poorer children. This means that intelligence in boys recedes more than the average in girls. Also, the average intellectually developed girl is just as intelligent as the average intellectually advanced boy of the same age.

An examination of children’s intellectual abilities by intelligence tests indicates that there are innate gender differences in the qualitative properties of the intellect.

We have said that intelligence is a set of different mental functions, some more stressed in boys and others in girls.

Female children:

  • More skillful in verbal expression
  • At early age they have a richer vocabulary
  • More skillful in grammar and style
  • They recognize colors better
  • Better in aesthetic judgment
  • They are more confident in distinguishing between left and right
  • There are more skillful in making handicrafts
  • They better understand the moral concepts
  • Easily perceive relationships in specific content
  • They better understand human actions and their motives

Male children:

  • They have a greater capacity for understanding spatial relationships and structures
  • Better connecting concepts
  • They better understand the connections between things and understand logical relationships
  • Better control the flow of thought in the choice of associations
  • As adults have a richer vocabulary

Because of these differences in the structure of male and female intelligence, boys at school are more likely to master natural science, math, and technical skills, and girls achieve greater success in language learning, memory, and observation skills.

The impact of innate predispositions on intelligence development is obviously stronger than the environmental impact, but the environmental impact should not be neglected. Comparative studies of intellectual development of urban and rural children, according to Terman L.M. show that on average children raised in urban areas are superior to children in rural areas in mental development. Studies have shown that the average IQ of children in urban areas is IQ 109 and in rural children IQ 95. The age difference of the children interviewed was 14 months.

Intelligence is also influenced by natural factors, as among rural residents, those with higher IQs achieve a significantly higher level of education by migrating to urban areas, while those with lower IQs remain in rural areas. It is therefore understandable that children of urban parents are superior in intelligence to children of parents in rural areas.

However, hereditary factors are considered to have only a partial impact on this difference between the rural and urban environments. The intelligence of children from rural areas is mostly behind the intelligence of children from urban areas, in the part when they need to express themselves verbally. The child shows that the more culturally elevated the environment in which he or she develops, the greater his or her ability to verbal expression. The rural environment is culturally lagging behind the urban, so the child from the rural environment is less skilled at expression than his/her peers in the urban environment. Since speech development and rich vocabulary are essential factors in the expression of intelligence, it is becoming clear that the rural environment is largely the cause of poorer intelligence in children.

The difference in intellectual stimuli also explains the difference in the level of intelligence among children from less educated and better educated parents in the urban environment. Bayley N.’s research has shown that there is a close link between a child’s intelligence and their parents’ education. And this fact can also be accounted for by genetic factors, since intelligent parents achieve higher education and as a result have intelligent offspring.

But the better intellectual development of these children is undoubtedly influenced by the fact that, from the very beginning of their lives, they have been surrounded by more vivid intellectual activity in the environment in which the child identifies and practices. Intellectual passiveness, torpid, disinterested environment impedes the development of children’s intelligence because it does not provide them with intellectual nourishment or serve as a positive model of intellectual activity. The intelligence of children from such surroundings is often fueled by day care in kindergartens, school attendance and other educational centers where they learn new content and have an active exchange of ideas of progressive intellectual character.

Poor economic conditions can also hinder the development of intelligence, primarily because in such an environment, the child is often chronically malnourished. This slows down the overall growth of the child, as well as the maturation of his/her brain functions. Therefore, children who are physically advanced often show relatively better intelligence than inferior and physically weaker children.

Sometimes, by prejudice, the firstborn is claimed to be less intelligent than a younger sibling. This is explained by the fact that the first child is usually born with less body weight and that there are more premature babies in the first children and that parents raise them with less experience.

However, none of these factors affect the development of intelligence.

The mental functions of a child cannot normally develop if, in parallel, their emotional life is not naturally developed. The cold, disinterested or cruel and emotionally repulsive environment encodes the child’s overall psychic development, so it is understandable that in such a case his or her intelligence cannot be fully expressed. Children who grow up in orphanages or families in which they are completely neglected or mistreated are the most effected.