Testing Process Theories of Intelligence

  • Earl C. Butterfield
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 14)


A dauntingly complex but necessary research strategy follows from two simple beliefs about intelligence. The first belief is that intelligence develops: behavior becomes increasingly complex and abstractly organized with age. The second belief is that individual differences in intelligence are general: people who perform intelligently in one situation are more likely than people who don’t to perform intelligently in another situation. Given that there are specialized forms of knowledge and specialized modes of thought, it is still true that to be termed intelligent a person must behave in generally effective ways. Despite their simplicity, these two beliefs are universally accepted. The developmental character of intelligence is accepted by process and structural theorists alike; it is accepted by continuity and noncontinuity theorists, by those who do and those who do not subscribe to stage theories, as well as by those who accept the antitheoretical view that intelligence is only what IQ tests measure. The belief that intellectual differences are general can be seen in the functionalist argument that intelligence is adaptability, since adaptability amounts to performing well in diverse situations. It can be seen in the Piagetian argument that an instructional experiment cannot be claimed to have influenced intelligence unless it has changed a wide range of uninstructed behaviors as well as the instructed ones. It can be seen in any standardized test of intelligence, since even the factorially purest tests yield composite IQ or MA scores. The research implications of these two beliefs fall on all who would test theories of intelligence.


Process Theory Transfer Test Transfer Task Criterion Task Instructional Sequence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, J. R. Language, Memory, and Thought Hillsdale, NJ. Belmont, J. M. and Butterfield, E. C. The instructional approach to developmental cognitive research. In R. Kail and J. Hagen (Eds.), Perspectives on the Development of Memory and Cognition. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1977, pp. 437–481.Google Scholar
  2. Borkowski, J. G, Cavanaugh, J. C, and Reichart, G. J. Maintenance of children’s rehearsal strategies: Effects of amount of training and strategy form. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, in press.Google Scholar
  3. Borkowski, J. G. and Wanschura, P. Mediational processes in theretarded. In N. R. Ellis (Ed.), International Review of Research in Mental Retardation (Vol. 7). New York: Academic Press, 1974.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, A. L. The development of memory: Knowing, knowing about knowing, and knowing how to know. In H. W. Reese (Ed.), Advances in Child Development and Behavior, (Vol. 10). New York: Academic Press, 1975.Google Scholar
  5. Brown, A. L. Knowing when, where, and how to remember: A problem in metacognition. In R. Glaser (Ed.), Advances in Instructional Psychology. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1978.Google Scholar
  6. Brown, A. L. and Campione, J. C. Memory strategies in learning: Training children to study strategically. In H. Pick, H. Leibowitz, J. Singer, A. Steinschneider, and H. Stevenson (Eds.), Application of Basic Research in Psychology. Plenum Press, 1978.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, A. L., Campione, J. C., Bray, N. W., and Wilcox, B. L. Keeping track of changing variables: Effects of rehearsal training and rehearsal prevention in normal and retarded adolescents. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1973, 101, 123–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Butterfield, E. C. On studying cognitive development. In J. P. Sackett (Ed.), Observing Behavior: Theory and Application in Mental Retardation (Vol. 11). New York: Academic Press, 1977.Google Scholar
  9. Butterfield, E. C., Wambold, C., and Belmont, J. M. On thetheory and practice of improving short-term memory. American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 1973, 654–669.Google Scholar
  10. Chase, W. Visual Information Processing. New York: Academic Press, 1973.Google Scholar
  11. Chi, M. T. H. The representation of knowledge (Review of Exploration In Cognition by D. A. Norman, D. E. Rummelhart, and the LNR Research Group). Contemporary Psychology, 1976, 21, 784–785.Google Scholar
  12. Denny, D. R. Modification of children’s information processing behaviors through learning a review of the literature. Chüd Study Journal Monograph, 3 (Whole No. 4), 1973.Google Scholar
  13. Flavell, J. H. Developmental studies of mediated mempry. In H. Reese and L. Lipsitt (Eds.), Advances in Chüd Developmentand Behavior (Vol. 5). New York: Academic Press, 970.Google Scholar
  14. Flavell, J. H. and Wellman, H. M. Metamemory. In R. Kail and J. Hagen (Eds.), erspectives on the Development of Memory and Cognition. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1977.Google Scholar
  15. Greeno, J. G. and Bjork, R. A. Mathematical learning theory and the new “mental forestry.” Annual Review of Psychology, 1973, 24, 81–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kuhn, D. Inducing development experimentally: Comments on a research paradigm. Developmental Psychology, 1974, 10, 590–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lachman, R, Lachman, J., and Butterfield, EC. Cognitive Psychology and Information Processing—An Introduction. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1979.Google Scholar
  18. Miller, G, Galanter, E, and Pribram, K. Plans and the Structureof Behavior. New York: H. Holt and Co, 1960.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Moely, B. E., Olsen, F. A., Halwes, T. G and Flavell, J. H. Production deficiency in young children’s clustered recall. Developmental Psychology, 1969, 1, 26–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Neisser, W. Cognitive Psychology. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1967.Google Scholar
  21. Newell, A. You can’t play 20 questions with nature and win: Projective comments on the papers of this symposium. In W. G. Chase (Ed.), Visual Information Processing. New York: Academic Press, 1973.Google Scholar
  22. Reitman, W. What does it take to remember? In D. A. Norman(Ed.), Models of Human Memory. New York: Academic Press, 1970.Google Scholar
  23. Schank, R. C. The role of memory in language processing. In C. N. Cofer (Ed.), The Structure of Human Memory. San Francisco: Freeman, 1976.Google Scholar
  24. Townsend, J. T. Some results on the identifiability of parallel and serial processes. British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology, 1972, 168–199.Google Scholar
  25. Townsend, J. T. Issues and models concerning the processing of a finite number of inputs In B. H. Kantowitz (Ed.), Human Information Processing: Tutorials in Performance and Cognition. Hülsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1974.Google Scholar
  26. Weizenbaum, J. Computer Power and Human Reason: From Judgment to Calculation. San Francisco: Freeman, 1976.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Earl C. Butterfield
    • 1
  1. 1.University of KansasKansas CityUSA

Personalised recommendations