Can you easily process new information, analyze situations and deduce solutions to novel problems without getting contradicted by previously acquired knowledge? Then you have fluid intelligence. But in case this is not your greatest strength, then here are a few strategies to improve it.
Intelligence in psychology
Intelligence refers to our ability to gain and implement knowledge, information & skills. It involves various aspects like understanding, critical thinking, reasoning, creativity, logic, problem-solving, learning, emotional intelligence and even self-awareness. All of us are intelligent in our own unique ways. You may be street smart, while someone else can be book smart. But psychologists tend to define the concept of intelligence in different ways.
Our capacity to learn new things and retain previous knowledge and skills is referred to as general intelligence (g factor or psychometric g), which is also known as general mental ability or general cognitive ability. However, during the 1960s, intelligence was segregated in to two major categories by psychologist Raymond Cattell:
- Crystallized intelligence (gc)
- Fluid intelligence (gf)
Crystallized intelligence refers to what you learn and the knowledge you gain from experiences. Fluid intelligence, on the other hand, refers to our intuitive problem-solving abilities.
What is fluid intelligence?
Fluid intelligence (gf) is our ability to use logic and derive solutions by identifying patterns & associations in novel situations. Researchers define it as the ability to reason, create, modify & manipulate various forms of new information in real time. According to a study, fluid intelligence is “our ability to creatively and flexibly grapple with the world in ways that do not explicitly rely on prior learning or knowledge”
Professor and neuroscientist Berit Brogaard D.M.Sci., Ph.D explains “fluid intelligence is the ability to use generalized intellectual skills, such as math, deduction, induction, hypothesis-formation, abstract thinking, analytical skills, pattern recognition, imagination, visualization, and moral intuition to solve new problems.”
Author, world-class endurance athlete and Guinness World Record holder Christopher Bergland explains “Fluid intelligence is the capacity to think logically and solve problems in novel situations, independent of acquired knowledge. Fluid intelligence involves the ability to identify patterns and relationships that underpin novel problems and to extrapolate these findings using logic.”
Read Also: Types of Intelligence
Another study published in the American Psychological Association describes it as “General fluid intelligence (Gf) is the ability used in inductive and deductive reasoning, particularly with novel material.”
In essence, fluid intelligence is our inherent knowledge and understanding that allows us to cope with various situations in life. So can we improve fluid intelligence? Yes. But we cannot enhance this natural ability by learning or practice like we can with crystallized intelligence.
Crystallized intelligence vs Fluid intelligence
Before we can figure out how to improve fluid intelligence, we need to take a closer look at how the two types of intelligence are different and linked with each other. Crystallized intelligence is the knowledge we gain through training while fluid intelligence is our ability to analyze, reason & solve issues. We can use crystallized intelligence in overcoming challenges that require experience and previously gained knowledge like reading and verbal presentations. Fluid intelligence plays a strong role in creativity and innovation and does not require prior experience. It is based on physiological functioning.
Dr. Cynthia Vinney, psychology expert, scholar, author and research fellow at the Institute for Social Innovation explains “Fluid intelligence is the ability to use logic and solve problems in new or novel situations without reference to pre-existing knowledge. Crystallized intelligence is the ability to use knowledge that was previously acquired through education and experience. Fluid intelligence declines with age, while crystallized intelligence is maintained or improved.”