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Multiple Intelligences or Multilevel Intelligence? Selective Emphasis on Distinctive Properties of Hierarchy IQ

Messick, Samuel J.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Cognitive Structures, Gardner, Howard, Guilford, J. P., Intelligence, Intelligence Quotient (IQ), Models, Sternberg, Robert, Theories


This essay reviews Gardner's "Frames of Mind" and Sternberg's "Beyond I.Q." in the context of theory and research on the structure of human abilities in hopes that juxtaposing these rival conceptions of intelligence would help clarify their commonalities and contractions. However, the reviewer finds "surprisingly little overlap at a deep-structure or even a surface level" between the two formulations, in fact that, what points of contact exist are as likely as not to be points of contention or outright conflict. The concepts underlying these contrasts are elaborated upon in sections of this review focusing on Gardner's biocultural basis of multiple intelligence and on Sternberg's three-faceted mental models (The contextual, experiential, and componential subtheories). To place this conceptual confrontation on a broader theoretical base, a third intellective framework is introduced--the structure of human abilities derived by factor analysis and the associated hierarchical theories of intellect based on it. It is concluded that: 1) all three formulations and associated research underpinnings have distinct as well as overlapping strengths and limitations; 2) they differ in their purviews as to what constitutes human intellect; and 3) if Gardner and Sternberg had treated factorial theories and research on human abilities in more depth, their empirical and scholarly efforts might have systematically built upon (or undercut) these structural formulations and advanced the science of intellect in cumulative rather than idiosyncratic fashion. (JGL) (60pp.)

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