Mind 5.4 min read

Fluid vs Crystallized Intelligence: Discover How Smart You Are?

by Marija Krstova December 11, 2018

When you think about intelligence and the different types of intelligence what sort of things come to mind?

For many the first thing that comes to mind is logical intelligence – you know, the one we are used to measure with an IQ test.

The truth is that intelligence is more than just our knowledge, or our ability to learn and remember. Intelligence is a very wide term with a ton of different meanings, and we’re about to delve into two of those today.

In this article you’ll learn about fluid vs crystallized intelligence and the main difference between these types.

Psychologist Raymond Cattell was the first person to propose the concepts of these two types of intelligence in 1960’s. He developed the theory of fluid vs crystallized intelligence along with his student John Horn.

In his theory, he states that intelligence is made up of different abilities that interact with each other in order and make up the overall intelligence of the individual.


What Is Crystallized Intelligence In Psychology?

According to Cattell‘s theory of intelligence, crystallized intelligence is what we know from past experiences, learning, culture and education.

In other words, when we use this type of intelligence we are referencing to past knowledge and data we’ve accumulated over the years, as well as facts and information we’ve learned in our past. Consequently, this makes it possible for us to improve our crystallized intelligence over time.

What is an example of crystallized intelligence?

Since crystallized intelligence comes from our prior knowledge or experiences, we can use it for:

  • Solving problems we’ve encountered before
  • Verbal tests in grammar, reading comprehension or vocabulary exams
  • Trivia games or game shows

Here are a few examples of crystallized intelligence:

  • Remembering the dates of important battles or historic events in the world
  • Knowing the number π by heart
  • Knowing that the perfect temperature for cooking a medium rare steak  is 130-135 degrees Fahrenheit
Fluid Intelligence

What is Fluid Intelligence in Psychology?

Similarly to crystallized intelligence, a many of us are not familiar with the exact definition of fluid intelligence.

While crystallized intelligence is something we acquire and build on over time through education and experiences, fluid intelligence is the ability to analyze, visualize and solve problems that arise without using our past experiences or knowledge.

Instead of using our knowledge and depending on similar events in the past, we use logic, abstract thinking, pattern recognition, reasoning, adapting to new conditions and coming up with new different problem-solving strategies. 

What is an example of fluid intelligence?

Since fluid intelligence is the ability to adapt quickly to the novel situation and come up with a new creative solutions, let’s see how can we use it on a day to day level. 

For instance, we use fluid intelligence when we:

  • Solve puzzles
  • Filter out irrelevant information
  • Think abstractly
  • Invent new problem-solving strategies

Can You Increase Fluid Intelligence?

Although it was previously thought that we could only improve our crystallized intelligence, we now know that fluid intelligence isn’t set in stone either.

According to a study done by Susanne M. Jaeggi, Martin Buschkuehl, and their colleagues in 2008, fluid intelligence can improve with training that focuses mainly on our working memory.

They discovered that fluid intelligence can be trained and improved, therefore the more training you do, the better results you’ll get.

If knowledge is power, learning is your superpower.

— Jim Kwik, author of Mindvalley’s Superbrain program

How does fluid and crystallized intelligence change with age?

Given that we improve our crystallized intelligence by learning and acquiring new information, this type of intelligence can actually increase over our lifetime.

We know that fluid intelligence has a tendency to decrease with age. Still, if we work on training our memory and brain, our cognitive and problem solving abilities can actually improve with age as well.

There are numerous ways in which we can improve our fluid and crystallized intelligence.

Here are some of those ways:

  • Seek new activities and hobbies
  • Don’t look for the easy way out – problem-solve!
  • Challenge yourself each day
  • Be social and learn from others

Do you have trouble remembering names?

Maybe you struggle to remember important dates or even basic facts and figures you need for a presentation?

If you do, don’t worry - it’s a common problem.

But what’s also common is the myth that some people are just born with good or photographic memory, while the rest of us just have to struggle.

The truth is, memory is just like a muscle - you can train it to be stronger.

Whether you’re a working professional looking to learn new skills, a student cramming for exams, or even just a senior who’s looking to stay sharp - there are techniques you can do to actively and permanently improve your memory.

If You’d Like To Tap Into This Secret Power You Didn’t Know You Have…Then Join Jim Kwik, Peak Performance Expert And Memory Guru, In This FREE Masterclass

From it, you’ll also learn:

The biggest lie we’ve all been told about our brainsthat’s holding us back from our potential. Contrary to conventional wisdom, your memory actually isn’t fixed. Once you realize how much control you have, you’ll begin to discover what you’re truly capable of.

10 powerful mental hacks you can apply to unlock your inner super learner. Small tweaks in these areas could make the difference between being someone who’s forgetful, to someone who has near-perfect memory.

A powerful memorization technique you can use in any situation. You’ll be able to deliver a speech without having to use your notes, and even remember your entire grocery list without having to write it down!

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What are your favourite ways of training your mind and improving your fluid and crystallized intelligence? Let us know in the comments below!

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