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Differences between Fluid Intelligence and Crystallized Intelligence

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Intelligence types

But what are fluid and crystallized intelligences? Psychologist Raymond Cattell first proposed these two concepts when he developed his theory together with John Horn.

The Cattell-Horn Theory of Fluid and Crystallized Intelligence suggests that intelligence is made up of different capabilities that interact and work together to produce overall individual intelligence.

What is Fluid Intelligence?

According to Cattell, Fluid Intelligence implies being able to think and reason abstractly and solve problems. This ability is considered independent of learning, experience and education. Examples of using fluid intelligence include solving puzzles and coming up with problem solving strategies.

Fluid intelligence tends to decline during late adulthood.

What is Crystallized Intelligence?

Crystallized Intelligence involves the knowledge that comes from previous training and past experiences. Some situations that require Crystallized Intelligence include reading comprehension tests and learning new vocabulary.

This type of intelligence is based on facts and its roots are experience. As we age we accumulate new knowledge and types of understanding, which is why Crystallized Intelligence becomes stronger.

As we can see, this type of intelligence tends to increase with age.

Fluid Intelligence and Crystallized Intelligence throughout life

Both Fluid Intelligence and Crystallized Intelligence tend to change throughout life , being more powerful at different times in the life cycle.

Fluid Intelligence has long been believed to be much more intense in the earliest ages of life, but recent research suggests that in some cases Fluid Intelligence can peak as late as the age of 40.

On the other hand, the Crystallized Intelligence tends to be more intense in later ages, and its peak is reached around 60 or 70 years.

Some things worth remembering about Fluid and Crystallized Intelligence are:

  • Both types of intelligence increase most intensely during childhood and adolescence.
  • The peaks of fluid intelligence usually occur in adolescence and begins to decline progressively after 30 or 40 years.
  • Crystallized intelligence continues to grow throughout life.

Recent research also suggests that brain formation in the intrauterine stages may play a role in enhancing certain aspects of fluid intelligence.

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