Intelligence is such a diffuse concept that any theory is bound to be self-defeating. Discuss critically."
One of the initial difficulties that psychologists face when attempting to create a theory for intelligence is what it actually is. It is only within the past 100 years that they have attempted to define intelligence. Prior to this time it was recognised that individuals could be smarter or dumber; cleverer or stupider; or more intelligent than others but no definition was seriously created (Gardner, 1993). In 1923, Boring stated that "Intelligence is what intelligence tests measure" (Kline, 1994:2). A nod, perhaps, towards the recognition that it is a difficult concept to define.
Even today there are still many interpretations as to what intelligence is, although to the person in the street it is generally associated with academic success. This disregards areas such as common sense and practical skills, despite the fact that they both use the brain to achieve their outcomes. For example, a grandmaster at chess is generally perceived as more intelligent than a top class chef. Although each has reached the top of their trade and therefore should be classed as intelligent, the chef's job is seen as more practical than intellectual.
Over the past century, theories of intelligence have gone down one of two paths. Either that there is a single underlying factor that accounts for all intelligent behaviour - a 'general intelligence' or alternatively that there are multiple factors, with specific ones applying to specific situations and different forms of intelligence.
On the 'general intelligence'; path, we find the theories of Charles Spearman, Arthur Jensen, Hans Eysenck, Michael Anderson and; Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray (Gardner, Kornhaber and Wake, 1996).
The pluralist viewpoint is supported by the theories of Louis Thurstone, J.P. Guilford, Howard Gardner and Robert Sternberg. Others such as P.E. Vernon, Horn & Cattell, and J.B. Carroll...