The G Factor: The Science of Mental Ability

By Arthur R. Jensen | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
The Trouble with "Intelligence"

"The word "intelligence" as an intraspecies concept has proved to be either undefinable or arbitrarily defined without a scientifically acceptable degree of consensus. The suggested remedy for this unsatisfactory condition is to dispense with the term "intelligence" altogether when referring to intraspecies individual differences in the scientific context and focus on specific mental abilities, which can be objectively defined and measured. The number of mental abilities, so defined, is unlimited, but the major sources of variance (i.e., individual differences) among myriad abilities are relatively few, because abilities are not independent but have sources of variance in common.

The empirical fact that all mental abilities are positively correlated calls for an analytic taxonomy of mental abilities based on some form of correlation analysis. Factor analysis has proven to be the most suitable tool for this purpose. By means of factor analysis it is possible to describe the total variance of various abilities in terms of a smaller number of independent dimensions (i.e., factors), or components of variance, that differ in their degree of generality. "Generality" refers to the number of abilities that are correlated with a particular factor. The common factors in the abilities domain can be represented hierarchically in terms of their generality, with a large number of the least general factors (called first-order or primary factors) at the base of the hierarchy and the single, most general, factor at the apex.

Ability measurements can be represented geometrically and mathematically as vectors in space, with a common origin and with the angles between them related to their intercorrelations. Factors are the "reference axes" in this space and the number of orthogonal

-45-

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The G Factor: The Science of Mental Ability
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Chapter 2 - The Discovery of G 18
  • Notes 39
  • Chapter 3 - The Trouble with "Intelligence" 45
  • Notes 68
  • Chapter 4 - Models and Characteristics of G 95
  • Chapter 5 - Challenges to G 105
  • Notes 133
  • Chapter 6 - Biological Correlates of G 137
  • Notes 165
  • Chapter 7 - The Heritability of G 169
  • Notes 197
  • Chapter 8 - Information Processing and G 203
  • Notes 261
  • Chapter 9 - The Practical Validity of G 270
  • Notes 301
  • Chapter 10 - Construct, Vehicles, and Measurements 306
  • Notes 344
  • Chapter 11 - Population Differences in G 350
  • Notes 402
  • Chapter 12 - Population Differences in G: Causal Hypotheses 418
  • Notes 516
  • Chapter 13 - Sex Differences in G 531
  • Notes 542
  • Chapter 14 - The G Nexus 544
  • Notes 579
  • Appendix A - Spearman's "Law of Diminishing Returns" 585
  • Appendix B - Method of Correlated Vectors 589
  • Appendix C - Multivariate Analyses of a Nexus 593
  • References 597
  • Name Index 635
  • Subject Index 643
  • About the Author 649
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