Modern Psychometric Theories

PsychologyPersonality Psychology

Modern Psychometric Theories are the wonderful tools in the hands of psychologists to test or assess the different aspects of an individual. Though it has certain limitations, but it really helped the psychologists and other researchers to collect the data and/or information of targeted person or group.

What are the Modern Psychometric Theories?

There are various modern psychometric theories; significant of them are −

Structure of Intellect Model by J.P. Guilford

In 1955, J.P. Guilford proposed a theory named as structure of intellect model. Guilford and his associates conducted factor analytical research studies in the U.S. involving several intelligent tests. According to this theory, how an individual performs in the intelligent tests can be systematically observed by his underlying mental abilities or the factors of intelligence. Furthermore, the theory states that every intellectual activity revolves around three dimensions: operations, content, and products, comprising 180 different intellectual abilities in total.

Operations determine basic psychological processes. i.e., what an individual does to the environment. Contents refer to the nature of information in the environment, which is the kind of material or information to which a person responds. Finally, the product results from an operation to the content, determining the final response. While operations and products comprise six factors each, contents comprise five factors (6*6*5 = 180). Thus, any intellectual activity or mental task involves at least one factor from each of the three parameters. Therefore, Guilford maintains that every mental process has three basic parameters along which any possible intellectual behavior can occur.


  • Evaluation − It is the ability to judge the accuracy and consistency of the information.
  • Convergent thinking − It is the ability to reach a single solution to a problem.
  • Divergent thinking − It is the ability to find out multiple solutions to a problem.
  • Memory recording − It is the ability to encode information.
  • Memory retention − It is the ability to recall information.
  • Cognition − It is the ability to become aware of the information.

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  • Visual factor − Concrete, real-world information, tangible objects, things in the environment - information perceived through sight.
  • Symbolic − Information interpreted as signs or symbols denoting something else.
  • Semantic − Concerned with the concepts and meanings of words. Generally seen as having an abstract quality.
  • Behaviora − Information is perceived as acts of people.
  • Auditory − Concrete, real-world information, tangible objects, things in the environment - information perceived through hearing.


  • Units − It accounts for the single items of knowledge.
  • Classes − These are the sets of units that share common features.
  • Relations − It refers to the linkage of units as opposites or in associations, sequences, or analogies.
  • Systems − These are multiple relations interrelated to form structures or networks.
  • Transformations − These are changes, perspectives, conversions, or mutations to knowledge.
  • Implications − It refers to knowledge's predictions, inferences, consequences, or anticipations.

Likewise, Guilford did not believe in the idea of general ability. He argues that many aspects of intelligence tend to be overlooked when the items are aggregated to form tests. He believes that intelligence test items should not be distinguished in terms of content alone but also in terms of the operations performed upon the content and the product that results. He stated that "several facts based upon experiences in the component analysis of intellectual exams in the United States have raised questions regarding the applicability of a hierarchical structure. Almost no one reported finding a "g" factor, and in fact, the tendency has been for each factor to be limited to a small number of tests in any analysis."

small number of tests in any analysis." Several researchers have criticized the statistical techniques used by Guilford. As argued by Guilford, Jensen (1998) said that the absence of the "g" factor may have arisen due to methodological errors and artifacts. According to him the results are influenced by his observations from the U.S. Air Force personal cognitive tests. As summarized by Carroll (1993), there are only a few supporters of Guilford's Structural of Intellect model in relatively recent times.

Theory of Multiple Intelligence by Howard Gardner

This theory was proposed by Howard Gardner in 1983. He says that the presence of various abilities defines intelligence and work in combination, as opposed to general ability. He challenged the classical view of intelligence, referring to the capacity for logical reasoning. According to Gardner, intelligence is the 'ability to solve problems or fashion products that are of consequence in a particular cultural setting or community.' He believed that the different abilities to answer the question as to why some people outperform in certain areas and fail in others.

outperform in certain areas and fail in others. He initially suggested seven different types of intelligence, defined in terms of abilities, but added two more to the list later. According to him, although all individuals may apply all kinds of intelligence to some extent, they are differentiated by the combinations of relatively weaker and stronger intelligence. Thus, the theory of multiple intelligence is built around the following nine types of intelligence, which characterize differences in individuals.

  • Linguistic Intelligence − It is related to all kinds of linguistic competence abilities such as phonology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. People with strong linguistic intelligence are typically good at reading, writing, telling stories, and memorizing words and dates. The professions involving this are lyricists, authors, speakers, and writers.
  • Logical-Mathematical Intelligence − All talents, abilities, and skills relating to mathematics and logic fall under this category. It is related to carrying out calculations and solving logical puzzles. It is the ability to engage in abstract thought in the absence of action or objects. The professions involving this are scientists, mathematicians, and accountants.
  • Visual-Spatial Intelligence − It relates to the abilities, talents, and skills involving the representation and manipulation of spatial configuration and relationships, i.e., the ability to visualize with the mind. The professions involving this are fashion designing, interior designing, and painting.
  • Musical Intelligence − It is associated with the sensitivity and ability to create, communicate, and apprehend meanings made of sound, along with mechanisms related to pitch, rhythm, and sound quality.
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence − It is concerned with the abilities relating to the movement of one's body parts or its various parts to perform skilful and purposeful movements and the capacity to handle objects skilfully. The professions involving this are dancing and athletics.
  • Intra-personal Intelligence − It is related to one's ability to know himself. It comprises introspective and self-reflective capabilities such as knowledge and understanding of strengths and weaknesses, behavior, emotions, and reactions. Likewise, it is regarded as the personalized intelligence because it can only be accessed through self-expression. Yogis and saints are believed to possess this ability.
  • Interpersonal Intelligence − It is related to an individual's sensitivity to others' moods, feelings, and ability to cooperate as a part of a group. In other words, defines individual’s friendliness. E.g. politicians, teachers, and psychotherapies.
  • Naturalistic Intelligence − It was proposed in 1995. He referred to it as the ability to recognize flora and fauna and to make significant distinctions in the natural world. E.g. Chefs and botanists are believed to possess this ability.
  • Existential Intelligence − It is related to spiritual abilities, i.e., the ability to see the "big picture" of the human world by questioning the living, dying, and the fundamental reality of people existing. It is associated with philosophical thinkers.

Likewise, Gardner's theory of multiple intelligence was considered very comprehensive, as it covered several aspects of human intelligence, which was not present in the earlier traditional theories. The defenders of this theory believe that the earlier theories were too narrow in defining intelligence. However, it was also criticized on various grounds. One of the main criticisms is that instead of expanding the definition of "intelligence," Gardner has instead defined "intelligence" as what traditionalists refer to as "ability" or "aptitude." White (2006) pointed out that his application and classification of intelligence are subjective and arbitrary. He believes that another researcher will likely come up with a different intelligence classification. It has also been criticized based on a lack of empirical evidence. Other criticisms relate to the lack of tests for multiple intelligences, among others.

Updated on 13-Oct-2022 11:19:47