This research project is designed to extend our understanding of intelligence to types of thinking that have been largely ignored in the intelligence literature. IQ tests are among the most powerful predictors of individual achievement and outcomes, including education, salary, and health. Prominent theories of intelligence and IQ tests have focused on a cluster of cognitive abilities that require effortful, deliberative, working memory-heavy processing such as logical, spatial, and verbal abilities, which fall under the umbrella of what psychologists call Type 2 reasoning. Intelligence research has largely ignored a second class of abilities—called Type 1 abilities—which operate automatically, effortlessly, and without working memory (such as recognizing your mother in a photo, or solving 1+1 = X). This program of research will investigate whether individual differences in Type 1 abilities are the “other half” of human intelligence, alongside Type 2 abilities. This work may improve aptitude testing and placement in educational and professional settings. Additionally, the proposed work has potential to improve education and training methods by providing an unprecedented evidence-based approach to developing individualized learning skill profiles, allowing education to be tailored to individual abilities.

Currently, the dominant theory about the nature of intelligence holds that it is a unitary entity. Research has consistently found that a single measure of general intelligence (the g factor) can predict all other specific cognitive abilities (such as verbal skills, math skills, and even interpersonal skills). However, this work has largely failed to test Type 1 abilities due to a number of assumptions that have since been demonstrated to be false, such as the notion that individuals do not vary in their Type 1 abilities. Surprising preliminary evidence suggests that despite the g factor’s broad predictive ability, it may be unrelated to Type 1 abilities. This would mean that what we know about Type 2 intelligence from traditional IQ tests may not apply to Type 1 abilities. This project will develop tests to measure individual differences in Type 1 abilities and use them to investigate whether Type 1 abilities are unitary or contain multiple factors. Second, the project will contribute to emerging evidence about the independence of Type 1 abilities from Type 2 abilities by examining the relationship between Type 1 abilities and a battery of existing IQ tests. Finally, we will address the real-world implications of the ability to measure Type 1 IQ by investigating what life outcomes Type 1 IQ predicts.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Claudia Gonzalez-Vallejo
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Carnegie-Mellon University
United States
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