What Is Intelligence And How Does It Work?

what is intelligence
Voiced by Amazon Polly

Human intelligence is difficult to define. And when it comes to understanding exactly what intelligence is and how it works, there are a number of ways to go about it.

So, why is it so difficult to define intelligence? What is intelligence? How can we measure it? Is there more than one way to be intelligent?

We’re going to look at human intelligence from a number of angles to see if we can broaden our understanding of what intelligence is and how it can be accurately measured.

How Do You Define Intelligence?


So, what is intelligence?

Intelligence can be defined as the ability to acquire and use new knowledge and skills.

But what sort of knowledge? And what sort of skills? It turns out these variables have a greater influence on the way we interpret intelligence than we might realize.

Wisdom Vs Intelligence: What’s The Difference?

Is wisdom the same thing as intelligence? The terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing.

When it comes to the wisdom vs intelligence debate, it’s important to recognize that these two concepts are quite different from one another.

Intelligence is the ability to assimilate and utilize new information.

Wisdom, on the other hand, is the ability to use past experiences to make informed decisions about the future.

wisdom vs intelligence

What Is Intelligence According To Psychology?


Psychology is the scientific study of the mind. So, what is intelligence according to the field of psychology?

Psychology defines intelligence in a number of different ways. And that’s because there are many competing doctrines in the field of psychology.

It’s helpful to think of psychology as the trunk of a tree. Each branch that sprouts from the trunk finds its roots in the same principles and foundations. But each branch takes a different path toward the sunlight.

The way you define human intelligence in psychology depends entirely on the branch of psychology you use to define it.

Generally speaking, psychology recognizes human intelligence as the ability to acquire and synthesize new information.

What Is The Basic Intelligence?

One of the earliest theories of intelligence was proposed by English psychologist, Charles Spearman, back in 1904.

This early theory focused on a single form of intelligence. Generalized intelligence, or “g factor,” was defined as the ability to perform certain cognitive tasks. And it’s from this theory that the very first IQ tests were born.

What Does IQ Mean?


IQ stands for intelligence quotient. It was first coined by German psychologist, William Stern, back in 1912.

Stern used intelligence quotients as a way to standardize the scores he analyzed from intelligence tests.

Believe it or not, the very first IQ test was actually designed by French psychologist, Albert Binet. We know it today as the famous Stanford-Binet Scale.

What Is The IQ Of An Average Person?

Can IQ tests accurately measure intelligence? It’s a tough question to answer because while IQ tests are limited, they are capable of measuring certain cognitive abilities, including fluid reasoning, spatial processing, and deductive reasoning.

The average score for most IQ tests is 100.

But it’s important to keep in mind that your IQ score may not stay the same over the course of your life. In fact, average IQ score by age can differ quite substantially.

average iq score by age

What Is The Highest IQ Possible?

100 is the average score for most, but there’s quite a spread in terms of the lowest and highest recorded iq scores.

What’s the highest iq possible to attain on an IQ test? Well, when examining high IQ scores, it’s helpful to look at the scores of the great minds we’ve witnessed throughout history.

Most theorists estimate Einstein’s IQ to have been between 160-190 points. Einstein never actually took an IQ test, so the best we have is an informed guess!

Garry Kasparov’s IQ was a reported 135 points, based on a test he took in 1988.

Dr. Stephen Hawking was also said to have had an impressively high IQ, with a similar range to Einstein: 160 – 190 points. But, just like Einstein, Hawking never actually took an IQ test. He wasn’t a fan of standardized intelligence tests and didn’t believe IQ scores were an accurate representation of human intelligence.

What Is The Lowest IQ Ever Recorded?

So, what about the opposite end of the spectrum? What’s the lowest IQ ever recorded?

While it may be theoretically possible to score 0 on an IQ test, no one has actually ever attained this score.

Generally speaking, any score that dips below 70 points is considered to be below average. Unfortunately, those with scores below 70 often have some form of mental or cognitive impairment.

Will A High IQ Make Me More Successful?


Ever heard the saying: to be fair, you have to have a high IQ? Some use it in terms of grasping certain concepts or learning new skills.

But is a high IQ really necessary to be successful?

Absolutely not.

Just look at Stephen Hawking. He possessed one of the most powerful, influential minds to date. And he couldn’t be bothered to take an IQ test.

The fact of the matter is, IQ tests are an outdated measure of intelligence. And while they are capable of measuring certain abilities, they are very limited.

There are all sorts of genius tests and genius clubs (like Mensa International) that propagate the value of traditional intelligence testing. But the truth is, we’ve come a long way from Spearman’s theory of generalized intelligence.

As Jim Kwik, Author of Minvalley’s Superbrain Program says, “It’s not how smart you are, but how you are smart.”

how to define intelligence

How Can I Make Myself Smarter?


The recent science says that through neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, we can grow older but we can actually grow better. We can grow new brain cells and new connections and do things that are extraordinary. — Jim Kwik

Increasing your intelligence has everything to do with the way you choose to define intelligence.

Did you know that emerging theories in human intelligence suggest we actually possess nine different types of intelligence? It’s true! And it’s quite the far cry from Spearman’s theory of a single generalized intelligence.

If you want to learn how to get smarter, it’s really all about improving your cognitive abilities. Increasing your brain power is a worthy endeavor and there are plenty of ways to go about it.

Here are a few ways you can exercise your abilities and grow your brain:

  • Adopt a beginner’s mind
  • Try the F.A.S.T method
  • Exercise regularly
  • Meditate
  • Try some brain teasers
  • Play strategy-based board games
  • Teach others what you’ve learned
  • Try a new sport or hobby

Becoming smarter is all about challenging your brain to try new things. The more you explore, the more adaptive your brain will become!


Developing a Super Memory is a lot easier than you think. Discover the same tools that brain expert, Jim Kwik, taught Elon Musk, Brian Tracy and Google to boost their memory and speed up their learning. Sign up for his FREE Masterclass below:


So, what is intelligence to you? Share your thoughts below.

Shannon Terrell

Shannon Terrell is a writer based in Toronto, Canada. She revels in the thrill of exploration, whether it be new cultures, new landscapes, or new ways to bring on the happy. If she’s not hiking or practicing yoga, she probably has her nose in a book.

Add comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.