Fluid and crystallized intelligence (Cattell) (2023)

the central theses

  • Our general intelligence, which allows us to learn and remember, includes our fluid intelligence and our crystallized intelligence.
  • Fluid intelligence involves understanding, reasoning and problem solving, while crystallized intelligence involves recalling stored knowledge and past experiences.
  • Fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence, despite their interrelationship in performing many tasks, are based on different brain systems.
  • Various tools are used to measure fluid and crystallized intelligence, and new research suggests that fluid intelligence, while previously considered static, can be improved.

Our ability to learn romance and remember the past is calledgeneral intelligence(Kattel, 1963). It is a construct of psychometric studies of human intelligence and our cognitive abilities.

General intelligence includes correlations between different cognitive tasks, which can be divided into two subdomains (Cattell, 1971). These are fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence.

The theory of fluid intelligence versus crystallized intelligence challenges and expands what was previously thought to be a single construct of general intelligence.

In this article

origin and development

The theory of fluid intelligence versus crystallized intelligence was first postulated in 1963 by psychologist Raymond B. Cattell as a theory based on psychometrics. He argued that fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence are two categories of general intelligence.

In his book Intelligence, Its Structure, Growth, and Action, Cattell identified a component of general intelligence that embodies a fluid quality and can be directed toward any problem (Cattell, 1987).

He came to identify the other component as a part invested in the areas of crystallized skills. He pointed out that the latter involves acquiring crystallized knowledge and skills that can be disrupted individually without affecting others.

The two concepts of fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence were developed by Cattell's former student and cognitive psychologist John Leonard Horn (Horn & Cattell, 1967).

flowing intelligence

Fluid intelligence is the ability to think quickly and reason flexibly to solve new problems without relying on previous experiences and accumulated knowledge.

Fluid intelligence allows us to perceive and make inferences about relationships between variables and conceptualize abstract information, which helps solve problems. It correlates with essential skills such as comprehension and learning.

As Raymond Cattell (1967) has noted, it is an ability to "perceive relationships independent of prior practices or specific instructions relating to those relationships."

Examples of uses of Fluid Intelligence include solving puzzles, developing strategies to deal with new problems, identifying patterns in statistical data, and engaging in speculative philosophical reasoning (Unsworth, Fukuda, Awh, and Vogel, 2014).

(Video) Fluid and Crystallized Intelligence

Horn (1969) found that fluid intelligence is formless and based minimally on acculturation and prior learning, which includes both formal and informal education.

Furthermore, he argued that fluid intelligence is capable of fueling a variety of different cognitive activities. Consequently, the ability to solve abstract problems and engage in figurative analysis and classification depends on the level of fluency of intelligence (Horn, 1968).

It has long been thought that fluid intelligence peaked in the late 1920s before gradually declining (Cacioppo, Freberg 2012).

The decline in fluid intelligence is likely related to impaired neurological function, but it may also decline with age due to less frequent use.

Fluid and crystallized intelligence (Cattell) (1)

This decrease in fluid intelligence has been attributed to localized atrophy of the right side of the brain.cerebellum, age-related brain changes and lack of exercise (Cavanaugh & Blanchard-Fields, 2006). However, recent research challenges previous assumptions and suggests that certain parts of fluid intelligence may not peak until age 40.

crystallized intelligence

Crystallized intelligence refers to the ability to use skills and knowledge acquired through prior learning (Horn, 1969). Using crystallized intelligence involves remembering information and skills that already exist.

On the other hand, examples of the use of Crystallized Intelligence include remembering historical events and dates, remembering geographic locations, building one's vocabulary and reciting poetic texts (Horn, 1968).

Crystallized intelligence is the result of accumulated knowledge, including knowledge of reasoning, language skills and understanding of technology. This type of intelligence is linked to education, experience, and cultural background and is measured using general information tests.

Using crystallized intelligence involves remembering information and skills that already exist. For example, like riding a bike or reading a book.

Horn (1969) explained that crystallized intelligence is an "experiential precipitate" arising from a prior application of fluid intelligence.

Effective completion of tasks involving language mechanics (such as vocabulary structure) and general information depends on a person's crystallized intelligence.

Crystallized intelligence gradually increases and remains stable throughout adulthood until it begins to decline after age 60 (Cavanaugh & Blanchard-Fields, 2006). Despite observing this general trend, the age at which Crystallized Intelligence peaks has yet to be determined (Desjardins, Warnke & Jonas, 2012).

How intelligence types work together

Although fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence are different, it is important to consider the variety of tasks involved in these two components. For example, when taking a math test, you can rely on your fluid intelligence to come up with a strategy for answering the given questions within the allotted time.

At the same time, however, it may be necessary to use crystallized intelligence to remember various mathematical concepts and theories in order to provide the correct answers.

Likewise, an entrepreneur may need to use his fluid intelligence to identify a new opportunity in the market. However, developing a product to meet consumer demand may require prior knowledge and therefore the use of your crystallized intelligence.

(Video) Fluid vs. Crystallized Intelligence

Despite this apparent interrelationship, Crystallized Intelligence is not a fluid type of intelligence that crystallizes over time (Cherry, 2018). However, investing in fluid intelligence by learning new information creates crystallized intelligence.

In other words, the critical analysis of Fluid Intelligence problems creates and transfers information to long-term memory, which is part of crystallized intelligence.

Fluid Intelligence Measurements

Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Ability

The third edition of the Woodcock-Johnson tests of cognitive abilities includes concept formation with categorical reasoning and analytical synthesis with sequential reasoning (Woodcock, McGrew & Mather, 2001).

Concept formation here requires the derivation of underlying rules for solving puzzles, presented in order of increasing difficulty (Schrank and Flanagan 2003).

Analysis synthesis, on the other hand, requires learning and verbal presentation of solutions to logic puzzles that emulate a mathematical system. Combining procedural learning with muscle memory can make certain actions second nature (Bullemer, Nissen, & Willingham, 1989).

Raven's progressive matrices

Raven's Progressive Matrices assess the ability to recognize relationships between different mental representations (Raven, Raven & Court 2003).

It is a multiple-choice, non-verbal test that requires performing multiple drawings based on the subjects' ability to recognize relevant features based on the spatial placement of various objects (Ferrer, O'Hare & Bunge 2009).

Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Fourth Edition, based solely on visual stimuli, is a nonverbal test consisting of a matrix reasoning test and a picture concept rating (Wechsler, 2003).

The picture concept task assesses the child's ability to recognize the underlying features that drive a variety of materials, while the matrix reasoning test assesses the child's ability to move from established dominant features/rules to find the solution to a problem at hand. be found. a new problem (Flanagan, & Kaufmann, 2004). ).

The solution here is a puzzle image that conforms to the established rule.

crystallized intelligence measures

Exam C

The C-Test is a text completion test originally proposed as a foreign language proficiency test, providing an integrative measure of crystallized intelligence (Baghaei, & Tabatabaee-Yazdi, 2015).

The underlying construct of the C-Test corresponds to the skills that underpin the language component of crystallized intelligence.

However, research suggests that careful selection of relevant domain knowledge texts may allow the C-Test to also measure the factual knowledge component of crystallized intelligence.

Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS)

The revised form of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, used since 1981, includes five performance subtests and six verbal subtests (Kaufman & Lichtenberger 2006).


These verbal tests include comprehension, information, number of digits, vocabulary, similarities and arithmetic (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale Revised). Most of these verbal tests are widely interpreted as measuring crystallized intelligence.

Can fluid intelligence be improved?

As crystallized intelligence is known to improve over time and remain stable with age, it is widely accepted that education and experience enhance crystallized intelligence (Cavanaugh & Blanchard-Fields, 2006). However, the fluid intelligence approach is characterized by complexity.

Until recently, fluid intelligence was considered static, largely determined by genetic factors and therefore unchanging. However, some research has shown that fluid intelligence can be improved.

In experiments conducted in 2008 by psychologist Susanne M. Jaeggi, 70 participants were subjected to daily tasks and regular training to improve their fluid intelligence (Jaeggi, Buschkuehl, Jonides & Perrig, 2008).

At the end of the period, a noticeable increase in participants' fluid intelligence was observed. A similar study by Qiu, Wei, Zhao, and Lin also supported Jaeggi's conclusions (Qiu, Wei, Zhao, and Lin, 2009).

However, later studies have neither confirmed nor refuted Jaeggi's findings.


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(Video) Fluid Intelligence and Crystallized Intelligence Theory of Raymond Cattle

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1. Crystallized Vs. Fluid Intelligence
(Parker Bourassa)
2. Fluid and Crystallized Intelligence | Theory of Intelligence By Raymond Cattell | @AchieversHive
(Achiever's Hive)
3. Fluid & Crystallized Intelligence Theory by Cattel & Horn.
4. Arthur Brooks: Fluid and Crystalized Intelligence
(The Aspen Institute)
5. Cattell-Horn-Carroll theory - Intro to Psychology
6. Cattell's theory of intelligence


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