Differences between Spearman and Gardner Essay

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Differences between Spearman and Gardner

Edward Spearman’s name is almost synonymous with general intelligence, or “g” for short. He invented the first form of factor analysis, and proposed a two-factor theory of intelligence. He had sort of a math formula that said every activity involves a general factor plus a specific factor. (G + S). From these theories, he said that people who do well on intelligence tests also do well on a variety of intellectual tasks. “Vocabulary and mathematical and spatial abilities”. (Wilderdom, 2003). So for example of “g”, Spearman would theorize that people who score well on a verbal test have a lot of intelligence, but they are affected by their abilities to perform verbal tasks. In laments terms, if you scored well on a verbal test, you studied and have the brain capacity to understand and comprehend the material.

Howard Gardner on the other hand has a different point of view on intelligence. Instead of one main intelligence to focus on, he has seven. “Verbal, Mathematical, Musical, Spatial, Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, and intrapersonal functioning’s” (Wilderdom, 2003). While these are all forms of intelligence, they function separately he argues. Gardner goes a different route than Spearman basing he theories on biological facts. “Premise 1: If it can be found that certain brain parts can distinctively map with certain cognitive functioning, then that cognitive functioning can be isolated as one candidate of multiple intelligences.

Premise 2: Now it has been found that certain brain parts do distinctively map with certain cognitive functioning, as evidenced by certain brain damage leading to loss of certain cognitive function” (Washington U, 2002). These theories give a basis for multiple intelligences. Biologically, Gardner determines that the brain is the major player in the equation. For example; if a person was physically¬†handicapped, he determined that the particular part of the person brain that controlled motor functions was damaged.

The differences between the two psychologist’s theories are basically the same, but explained differently. Spearman’s theories are narrow focusing on one general type of intelligence, G and reaction time. Gardner’s theories are essentially the same but broader focusing on multiple intelligences. Point here is that Gardner doesn’t believe that one intelligence can be sufficient to determine intelligence. As for overall use of these theories, Spearman’s theory has more evidence that it works compared to Gardner’s theory.

The proof conquers that there is a connection between someone’s IQ and simple everyday tasks. The only place where Spearman’s theory is suspect is that it doesn’t account for all people. Example; if you gave a poor child an intelligence test, they would probably score poorly thus be deemed to have a below average intelligence. However, the child probably knows how to do basic math to survive and get by, consequently, it can’t take into account different talents that certain individuals have.

Gardner also has the same critiques with his theory. A lot of people don’t prefer this method because it is too excessive and has too many components to gauge and measure. His theory has a very casual explanation, but due to the variety of different components to the theory, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause and effect of a situation, and since no one has accurately figured out the complexities and diagramed an accurate depiction of the brain, I would have to call the theory hypothetical.


Spearman “g”, (2003). Retrieved on June 26th 2004, from, http://www.wilderdom.com/personality/L1-5KeyPlayers.html.

Han S. Palik, One intelligence or many? (2002). Retrieved on June 25th 2004, from http://www.personalityresearch.org/papers/paik.html.

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