Metaphors of Mind Underlying the Testing of Intelligence

  • Robert J. Sternberg
Part of the Advances in Psychological Assessment book series (AIPA, volume 8)


Theory and practice have maintained an uneasy alliance throughout the history of intelligence testing. Contrary to popular belief, most tests of intelligence have been at least loosely based on theories of intelligence. The quality of the theories has varied, of course, as has the degree of correspondence between the tests and the theories on which they are based. Many of the problems of intelligence testing have been attributed to the lack of theoretical basis in conventional intelligence testing (see, e.g., Hunt, Frost, & Lunneborg, 1973). But I believe that the biggest problem in the testing of intelligence has not been the weakness of the linkage between theory and practice, but rather, the almost exclusive use of a single metaphor of mind underlying the testing of intelligence, a geographic metaphor that views intelligence tests as providing maps of a part of the mind. In this chapter, I will argue that our testing of intelligence has been and continues to be inadequate, in part because tests have been only partially adequate operationalizations of the theories upon which they are based, but in greater part because the theories upon which they are based have been derived from just one of the many possible metaphors of mind. If we want to improve our tests, we need to broaden them to take into account metaphors of mind other than the geographic one.


Intelligence Test Human Intelligence Proximal Development Multiple Intelligence Primary Mental Ability 
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. Baltes, P. B., Dittmann-Kohli, F., and Dixon, R. A. (1984). New perspectives on the development of intelligence in adulthood: Toward a dual-process conception and a model of selective optimization with compensation. In P. B. Baltes and O. G. Brim, Jr. (Eds.), Life span development and behavior (Vol. 6, pp. 33–76 ). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  2. Baron, J. (1985). Rationality and intelligence. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Berry, J. W. (1974). Radical cultural relativism and the concept of intelligence. In J. W. Berry and P. R. Dasen (Eds.), Culture and cognition: Readings in cross-cultural psychology (pp. 225–229 ). London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  4. Berry, J. W., and Irvine, S. H. (1986). Bricolage: Savages do it daily. In R. J. Sternberg and R. K. Wagner (Eds.), Practical intelligence: Nature and origins of competence in the everyday world (pp. 271–306 ). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Binet, A., and Simon, T. (1916). The intelligence of the feeble-minded (E. S. Kite, Trans.). Baltimore, MD: Williams and Wilkins.Google Scholar
  6. Blinkhorn, S. F., and Hendrickson, D. E. (1982). Averaged evoked responses and psychometric intelligence. Nature, 295, 596–597.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boden, M. A. (1977). Artificial intelligence and natural man. Sussex, England: Harvester Press.Google Scholar
  8. Boring, E. G. (1923). Intelligence as the tests test it. New Republic, June 6, 35–37. Brown, A. L. (1978). Knowing when, where, and how to remember: A problem of metacognition. In R. Glaser (Ed.), Advances in instructional psychology (Vol. 1, pp. 77–165 ). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  9. Brown, A. L., and Campion, J. C. (1978). Permissible inferences from cognitive training studies in developmental research. In W. S. Hall and M. Cole (Eds.), Quarterly newsletter of the Institute for Comparative Human Behavior, 2, 46–53.Google Scholar
  10. Brown, A. L., andFrench, A. L. (1979). The zone of potential development: Implications for intelligence testing in the year 2000. In R. J. Sternberg and D. K. Detterman (Eds.), Human intelligence: Perspectives on its theory and measurement (pp. 217235 ). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  11. Bruner, J. S., Olver, R. R., andGreenfield, P. M. (1966). Studies in cognitive growth. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  12. Case, R. (1984). The process of stage transition: A neo-Piagetian view. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Mechanisms of cognitive development (pp. 20–44 ). New York: Freeman.Google Scholar
  13. Case, R. (1985). Intellectual development: Birth to adulthood New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  14. Cattell, J. M. (1890). Mental tests and measurements. Mind, 15, 373–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cattell, R. B. (1971). Abilities: Their structure, growth, and action. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  16. Cattell, R. B., and Cattell, A. K. (1963). Test of g: Culture fair, Scale 3. Champaign, IL: Institute for Personality and Ability Testing.Google Scholar
  17. Charlesworth, W. R. A. (1979). An ethological approach to studying intelligence. Human Development, 22, 212–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cole, M., Gay, J., Glick, J., andSharp, D. W. (1971). The cultural context of learning and thinking. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  19. Dixon, R. A., and Baltes, P. B. (1986). Toward life-span research on the functions and pragmatics of intelligence. In R. J. Sternberg and R. K. Wagner (Eds.), Practical intelligence: Nature and origins of competence in the everyday world (pp. 203235 ). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Evans, T. G. (1968). A program for the solution of geometric analogy intelligence test questions. In M. Minsky (Ed.), Semantic information processing. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  21. Ferguson, G. A. (1954). On learning and human ability. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 8, 95–112.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ferrara, R. A., Brown, A. L., and Campion, J. C. (1986). Children’s learning and transfer of inductive reasoning rules: Studies of proximal development. Child Development, 57, 1087–1099.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Feuerstein, R. (1979). The dynamic assessment of retarded performers: The learning potential assessment device, theory, instruments, and techniques. Baltimore, MD: University Park.Google Scholar
  24. Feuerstein, R. (1980). Instrumental enrichment: An intervention program forcognitive modifiability. Baltimore, MD: University Park.Google Scholar
  25. Fischer, K. W. (1980). A theory of cognitive development: The control and construction of hierarchies of skills. Psychological Review, 87, 477–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fischer, K. W., and Pipp, S. L. (1984). Processes of cognitive development: Optimal level and skill acquisition. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Mechanisms of cognitive development (pp. 45–75 ). New York: Freeman.Google Scholar
  27. Fodor, J. A. (1983). The modularity of mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  28. Galin, D., and Ornstein, R. (1972). Lateral specialization of cognitive mode: An EEG study. Psychophysiology, 9, 412–418.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Galton, F. (1883). Inquiry into human faculty and its development. London: Macmillan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  31. Gazzaniga, M. S. (1985). The social brain: Discovering the networks of the mind. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  32. Golden, C. J. (1981). A standardized version of Luria’s neuropsychological tests: A quantitative and qualitative approach to neuropsychological evaluation. In S. B. FilskovandT. J. Boll (Eds.),Handbook of clinical neuropsychology. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  33. Guilford, J. P. (1967). The nature of human intelligence. New York: McGraw-Hill. Guilford, J. P. (1982). Cognitive psychology’s ambiguities: Some suggested remedies. Psychological Review, 89, 48–59.Google Scholar
  34. Guilford, J. P., and Hoepfner, R. (1971). The analysis of intelligence. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  35. Gustafsson, J. E. (1984). A unifying model for the structure of intellectual abilities. Intelligence, 8, 179–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Guttman, L. (1954). A new approach to factor analysis: The radex. In P. F. Lazarsfeld (Ed.), Methematical thinking in the social sciences (pp. 258–348 ). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  37. Halstead, W. C. (1951). Biological intelligence. Journal of Personality, 20, 118–30.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hebb, S. B. (1983). Ways with words. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Hendrickson, A. E., and Hendrickson, D. E. (1980). The biological basis for individual differences in intelligence. Personality and Individual Differences, I, 3–33.Google Scholar
  40. Horn, J. L. (1986). Intellectual ability concepts. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Advances in the psychology of human intelligence (Vol. 3, pp. 35–77 ). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  41. Hunt, E. B. (1978). Mechanics of verbal ability. Psychological Review, 85, 109–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Hunt, E. B. (1980). Intelligence as an information-processing concept. British Journal of Psychology, 71, 449–474.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Hunt, E. B., Frost, N., and Lunneborg, C. (1973). Individual differences in cognition: A new approach to intelligence. In G. Bower (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation (Vol. 7, pp. 87–122 ). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  44. Hunt, E. B., Lunneborg, C., andLewis, J. (1975). What does it mean to be high verbal? Cognitive Psychology, 7, 194–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Irvine, S. H., and Berry, J. W. (1988). The abilities of mankind: A revaluation. In S. H. Irvine and J. W. Berry (Eds.), Human abilities in cultural context (pp. 3–59 ). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Jenkins, J. J. (1979). Four points to remember: A tetrahedral model of memory experiments. In L. S. Cermak andF. I. M. Craik (Eds.), Levels of processing in human memory (pp. 429–446 ). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  47. Jensen, A. R. (1969). How much can we boost IQ and scholastic achievement? Harvard Educational Review, 39, 1–123.Google Scholar
  48. Kaufman, A. S., and Kaufman, N. L. (1983). Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC). Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.Google Scholar
  49. Keating, D. P. (1984). The emperor’s new clothes: The “new look” in intelligence research. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Advances in the psychology of human intelligence (Vol. 2, pp. 1–45 ). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  50. Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition (1982). Culture and intelligence. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Handbook of human intelligence (pp. 642–719 ). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Levi-Strauss, C. (1966). The savage mind. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  52. Levy, J., Trevarthen, C., and Sperry, R. W. (1972). Perception of bilateral chimeric figures following hemispheric disconnection. Brain, 95, 61–78.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Luria, A. R. (1973). The working brain. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  54. Luria, A. R. (1980). Higher cortical functions in man (2nd ed., rev. and expanded). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  55. McCarthy, G., and Donchin, E. (1981). A metric for thought: A comparison of P300 latency and reaction time. Science, 211, 77–79.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. McClelland, J. L., and Rumelhart, D. E. (1986). A distributed model of human learning and memory. In J. L. McClelland, D. E. Rumelhart, and The PDP Research Group, Parallel distributed processing: Explorations in the microstructure of cognition (Vol. 2, pp. 170–215 ). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  57. McFie, J. (1961). The effects of education on African performance on a group of intellectual tests. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 31, 232–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Newell, A., Shaw, J. C., and Simon, H. A. (1958). Elements of a theory of human problem solving. Psychological Review, 65, 151–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Newell, A., and Simon, H. A. (1972). Human problem solving. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  60. Pascual-Leone, J. (1970). A mathematical model for the transition rule in Piaget’s development stages. Acta Psychologica, 32, 301–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Pascual-Leone, J. (1987). Organismic processes for neo-Piagetian theories: A dialectical causal account of cognitive development. International Journal of Psychology, 22, 531–570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Piaget, J. (1952). The origins of intelligence in children. New York: International Universities Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Piaget, J., andInhelder, B. (1969). The psychology of the child. New York: Basic Books. Posner, M. L, and Mitchell, R. F. (1967). Chronometric analysis of classification. Psychological Review, 74, 392–409.Google Scholar
  64. Schafer, E. W. P. (1982). Neural adaptability: A biological determinant of behavioral intelligence. International Journal of Neuroscience, 17, 183–191.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Serpell, R. (1979). How specific are perceptual skills? A cross-cultural study of pattern reproduction. British Journal of Psychology, 70, 365–380.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Siegler, R. S. (1978). The origins of scientific reasoning. In R. S. Siegler (Ed.), Children’s thinking: What develops? (pp. 109–149 ). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  67. Siegler, R. S. (1981). Developmental sequences within and between concepts. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 46, (Serial No. 189).Google Scholar
  68. Siegler, R. S. (1984). Mechanisms of cognitive growth: Variation and selection. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Mechanisms of cognitive development (pp. 141–162 ). New York: Freeman.Google Scholar
  69. Siegler, R. S. (1987). The perils of averaging data over strategies: An example from children’s addition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 116, 250–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Simon, H. A. (1976). Identifying basic abilities underlying intelligent performance of complex tasks. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), The nature of intelligence. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  71. Snow, R. E., andKyllonen, P. C., and Marshalek, B. (1984). The topography of ability and learning correlations. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Advances in the psychology of human intelligence (Vol. 2, pp. 47–103). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  72. Spearman, C. (1923). The nature of `intelligence’ and the principles of cognition. London: Macmillan Press.Google Scholar
  73. Spearman, C. (1927). The abilities of man. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  74. Sperry, R. W. (1961). Cerebral organization and behavior. Science, 133, 1749–1757.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Sternberg, R. J. (1977). Intelligence, information processing, and analogical reasoning: The componential analysis of human abilities. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  76. Sternberg, R. J. (1980). Sketch of a componential subtheory of human intelligence. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 3, 573–584.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Sternberg, R. J. (1983). Components of human intelligence. Cognition, 15, 1–48.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Sternberg, R. J. (1985). Beyond IQ: A triarchic theory of human intelligence. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  79. Sternberg, R. J. (1986). Intelligence applied: Understanding and increasing your intellectual skills. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  80. Sternberg, R. J. (1988). The triarchic mind: A new theory of human intelligence. New York: Viking.Google Scholar
  81. Sternberg, R. J. (1990). Metaphors of mind. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  82. Sternberg, R. J., and Gardner, M. K. (1982). A componential interpretation of the general factor in human intelligence. In H. J. Eysenck (Ed.), A model for intelligence (pp. 231–254 ). Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Sternberg, S. (1969). Memory-scanning. Mental processes revealed by reaction-time experiments. American Scientist, 4, 421–457.Google Scholar
  84. Stillings, N. A., Feinstein, M. H., Garfield, J. L., Rissland, E. L., Rosenbaum, D. A., Weisler, S. E., and Baker-Ward, L. (1987). Cognitive science: An introduction. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  85. Super, C. M. (1976). Environmental effects on motor development: The case of African infant precocity. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 18, 561–567.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Thomson, G. H. (1939). The factorial analysis of human ability. London: University of London Press.Google Scholar
  87. Thurstone, L. L. (1938). Primary mental abilities. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  88. Thurstone, L. L., and Thurstone, T. G. (1962). Tests of Primary Mental Abilities (Revised). Chicago, IL: Science Research Associates.Google Scholar
  89. Tuddenham, R. D. (1970). A “Piagetian” test of cognitive development. In W. B. Dockrell (Ed.), On intelligence (pp. 49–70 ). Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.Google Scholar
  90. Vernon, P. E. (1971). The structure of human abilities. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  91. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge, Mk Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  92. Walters, J. M., and Gardner, H. (1986). The theory of multiple intelligences: Someissues and answers. In R. J. Sternberg andR. K. Wagner (Eds.), Practical intelligence: Nature and origins of competence in the everyday world (pp. 163–182 ). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  93. Wissler, C. (1901). The correlation of mental and physical tests. Psychological Review, Monograph Supplement, 3, No. 6.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert J. Sternberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

Personalised recommendations