Can you choose to improve fluid intelligence when our society is focused on increasing crystallized intelligence? Yes, you can boost your inherent intelligence and cognitive abilities when you know how.
What is fluid intelligence?
All of us are intelligent in our own unique ways. You may be street smart, while someone else can be book smart. During the 1960s, intelligence was segregated in to two major types by psychologist Raymond Cattell:
- Crystallized intelligence
- Fluid intelligence
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. 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.”
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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.”
How these are linked together
“Fluid intelligence along with its counterpart, crystallized intelligence, are both factors of what Cattell referred to as general intelligence,” writes author and educational consultant
Kendra Cherry. She explains that both types of intelligence are intertwined and enables us to face and overcome challenges on a daily basis. Kendra adds “Fluid and crystallized intelligence are intertwined. Crystallized intelligence is formed through the investment of fluid intelligence when information is learned.”
When we use fluid intelligence to use logic and analyze different problems, the information gets stored in our long-term memory which eventually transforms into our crystallized intelligence. “Fluid intelligence is often used when learning new things. When you encounter a new subject, you use your fluid intelligence to understand the material through logical and analysis. Once you understand the material, the information will be incorporated into your long-term memory, where it can develop into crystallized knowledge,” adds Dr. Vinney.