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What are the three characteristics of intelligent people?

  • 1) Problem solving ability


  • Reasoning logically
  • Identifying connections among ideas
  • Seeing all aspects of a problem and making good decisions


  • 2) verbal ability


  • Speaking articulately
  • Reading with high comprehension
  • Good vocal


  • 3) social competence


  • Accepting others for who they are
  • Admitting mistakes
  • Displaying interest in the world at large
  • Being on time for appointments


How are the four lifespan concepts applied to the study of intelligence and aging? 

  • Theories of intelligence are multidimensional - they specify many domains of intellectual ability
  • The lifespan perspective sees it as multidirectional - as in you lose some intelligence and gain other types
  • Multidirectionality refers to the distinct patterns of change in abilities over the life span, with these patterns differing for different abilities   
  • Plasticity refers to the range of functioning within an individual and the conditions under which a person's abilities can be modified within a specific age range
  • What appears to be a drop in some skills may be a lack of practice in using them
  • Interindividual variability acknowledges adults differ in the direction of their intellectual development
  • Some people decline while others get better 


Baltes proposed dual component model of intellectual functioning 

  • 1) Mechanics of intelligence concerns neurophysiological architecture of the mind
  • Provides the basis for cognitive abilities such as problem solving, reasoning, spatial orientation
  • Change in this domain is greatest in childhood and adolescents as we acquire skills to handle complex tasks
  • 2) pragmatic intelligence concerns acquired bodies of knowledge available from and embedded within culture
  • Includes everyday cognitive performance and adaptation
  • Verbal knowledge, wisdom, practical problem solving
  • This type dominates adulthood


Describe the 3 research approaches to the study of intelligence

  • Psychometric - standardized tests
  • Some focus on information processing
  • Cognitive structural approach researchers are concerned with the way people conceptualize and solve problems than with scores on tests - quality and style of thought 
  • Information processing approach emphasizes basic cognitive mechanisms 


The organization of interrelated intellectual abilities is termed the___ and is Broken into a 5 level hierarchy

  • structure of intelligence
  • Broken into a 5 level hierarchy with word tests and a bunch of things interrelated but ultimately:
  • Each higher level represents an attempt to organize the level below
  • Lowest is individual test questions
  • Organized into tests at level 2
  • Level 3 is primary mental abilities reflects interrelations between the 1st two
  • Creating the secondary level at 4
  • Level 5 is general intelligence


If the performance on one test is highly related to the performance on another, the abilities measured by the two tests are interrelated and are called a



primary mental abilities

  • word fluency, verbal comprehension, spatial visualization, number facility, associative memory, reasoning, and perceptual speed.
  • Since the 30s researchers agreed that intellectual abilities can be studied as groups of related skills organized into hypothetical constructs called primary mental abilities ​
  • they form the factors on standardized tests 
  • normal declines after 60 but declines are small until mid-70s, then it's unequal in term sof how people decline 


secondary mental abilities 

  • crystalized intelligence
  • fluid intelligence
  • viual organization
  • auditory org
  • short term aquisition retrieval
  • long term storage and retrieval 
  • Related groups of primary mental abilities are clustered into 6 or so broader skills termed
  • broad ranging skills composed of several primary mental abilities 


Five representative primary mental abilities are: 

  • Number: the basic skills underlying our mathematical reasoning
  • Word fluency: how easily we produce verbal descriptions of things
  • Verbal meaning: our vocabulary ability
  • Inductive reasoning: our ability to extrapolate from particular facts to general concepts
  • Spatial orientation: our ability to reason in the 3 dimensional world


Fluid intelligence 

  • consists of the abilities that make you a flexible and adaptive thinker, allow you to make inferences and enable you to make relations between concepts
  • Example what number comes next 2,5,11, 23, ...
  • Declines with age - possibly related to brain structure
  • abilities improve afer direct training and anxiety reduction
  • cohort effects play a role  


Crystallized intelligence 

  • is the knowledge you have acquired through life experience and education in a particular culture
  • Trivia games, jeopardy, my understanding of music theory
  • Improves with age - possibly because you have so much more life experience
  • does not decline until late in life 


Parieto-frontal integration theory (P-FIT

  •  both fluid and crystalized intelligence comes from a distributed and integrated network of neurons in the Parieto-frontal ​ lobe of the brain


The neural efficiency hypothesis states that

  • intelligent people process information more efficiently, showing weaker neural activation in a smaller number of areas than less intelligent people
  • Intellectual abilities correlate with mortality late in life


6 factors relating to age related declines in fluid abilities 



socail variables




(task familiarity)


five moderators of intellectual change

  • 1) Cohort differences - part of the apparent decline with age in performance on intelligence tests is because of generational differences rather than age differences  resulting from
  • Better education opportunities
  • Healthier lifestyle
  • Better nutrition
  • Improved health care
  • 2) information processing - perceptual speed accounts for the decline in fluid and crystalized
  • Working memory declines in terms of coordinating incoming and stored information
  • Inability to inhibit information affects intelligence
  • 3) social and life-style variables - to the extent that your job or social setting requires you to use certain cognitive abilities a great deal, you are more or less likely to show decline
  • Other factors are higher socio-economic status
  • Exposure to stimulating environments
  • Access and use of educational resources through adulthood
  • Not feeling lonely
  • Loneliness is associated with more rapid cognitive decline
  • 4) personality self efficacy - perceived high initial levels in both fluid and crystalized intelligence lead to positive perception later in life
  • Neuroticism and chronic psychological distress implicated in rapid cognitive decline
  • May create deteriorative changes in the limbic system causing cognitive impairment
  • Positive beliefs lead you to healthier things like exercise and mental stimulation
  • 5) health related to brain functioning
  • Disease wreaks havoc
  • Exercise maintains cognitive fitness as well as slows down cognitive decline once it has started


mechanics of intelligence 

the aspect of intelligence that concerns the neurophysiological architecture of the mind 


Project ACTIVE 

  • Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly
    • Findings show that training interventions improved mental abilities and functioning in older independent adults
    • 5 years post intervention improvement for basic mental, health related and instrumental activities of daily life
    • Those that showed mild cognitive impairment (MCI) did not benefit from memory training but did improve in reasoning and speed of processing
    • Declines in fluid ability may be reversible and depending on the training effects last between 2-5 years
    • 1) no one is too old to benefit from training
    • 2) transfer of training occurs
    • 3) training gains are durable and last up to several years


Describe Piaget’s theory of cognitive development

  • Basic Concept: thought is governed by the principal of adaptation and organization: how we think changes from one development context to another
  • adapatation to the environment
  • organization on though 
  • structure of thought 
  • thoughts develop through 4 stages: sensorimotor, preoperations, concrete operations, formaloperations 



  • is the use of currently available knowledge to make sense out of the incoming information



  • is changing one's thought to make it a better approximation of the world experience
  • Child eventually accommodates and differentiates the idea of the orange


Piaget: thoughts develop through 4 stages:

sensorimotor, preoperations, concrete operations, formaloperations 


Sensorimotor Period 

  • is the 1st stage of cognitive development - intelligence is in the child's actions
  • Babies and infants gain knowledge by using their sensory and motor skills
  • Start with sucking, grasping and eventually look for a mommy using a coordinated sequence of movements
  • They learn permanence during this phase - the idea that things still exist even when out of sight


Preoperational period

  • children believe all inanimate objects experience the world as they do because they are ego centric - believe that dolls feel pain
  • May believe that shaving causes the water to turn on because the events always happen together


Concrete operational period

  • logical reasoning emerges and they classify objects into groups
  • Grains, fruits, vegetables
  • Still have trouble with abstract concepts like love


Formal operational period

  • during adolescence marks the end of cognitive development characterizing adult thought - approach problem solving in a logical, methodical way - scientific - trouble shooting - aimed at resolving ambiguity
  • 1) hypothesis testing approach
  • 2) thinking is done in a one framework at a time
  • 3) the goal is to arrive at one correct solution
  • 4) not constrained by reality - eg: we can solve disarmament tomorrow if we did xyz


Post-formal thought is characterized by 

  • the recognition that truth may vary from situation to situation, solutions must be realistic to be reasonable, ambiguity and contradiction are the rule rather than the exception, emotion and subjective factors usually play a role in thinking 
  • key characteristic of post-formal thought is integration of emotion and logic 
  • Example given is the student who plagiarizes - but maybe he didn't know totally or wasn't instructed by the teacher specifically that wikipedia constitutes plagiarism too
  • Enlarges the scope of problem solving to include social, motivational, and cultural factors


Reflective judgement 

  • a way adults reason through dilemmas involving current affairs, religion, science, personal relationships 


characteristics of older adults decision making  

  • Tend to search for less info to arrive a a decision
  • Require less info
  • Avoid risk
  • Rely on easily accessible info


Prereflective reasoning (stage 1-3)

  • knowledge is gained through authoritative figure or first hand experience
  • Believe what they know with absolute certainty and that it is correct
  • If it's on CNN it must be true
  • Don't evaluate evidence


Quasireflective reasoning (stage 4-5)

  • knowledge claims elements of uncertainty
  •  Although they use evidence, they do not understand how evidence entails a conclusion