David Wechsler on Intelligence, Overview

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  • 0:00 Who was David Wechsler?
  • 0:31 Criticism of the Old Theories
  • 1:09 Wechsler's…
  • 1:53 The Big Picture
  • 3:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Nancy Zingrone

Nancy has a PhD in psychology and has taught introductory courses in psychology as as well as published original research on personality and individual differences.

In this lesson, you will learn about the psychologist David Wechsler who introduced the theory that intelligence is a multidimensional global capacity that should be measured as an age-appropriate performance skill.

Who Was David Wechsler?

David Wechsler's accomplishments ranged from inventing one of the first lie detectors, to writing over 50 articles and books that focused on intelligence theory, and the impact of various emotions and character traits on achievement and life success. But perhaps his greatest contribution to intelligence theory was the invention of a variety of practical, skills-based intelligence tests that not only provided evidence for his theory but are also still widely-used today.

Criticism of the Old Theories

Similar to other cognitive psychologists of his time, Wechsler came to understand that the theories of intelligence that preceded him were much too simplistic. He was concerned that intelligence tests based on these theories were not useful in a practical sense. For example, when Wechsler began building his career, many of the tests being used were only appropriate for adults with a certain level of reading and writing skills. Because he believed that factors like age and experience impacted individuals' intellectual strengths and weaknesses, he felt strongly that both intelligence theory and intelligence testing should take such variability into account.

Wechsler's Intelligence Definition

In Wechsler's opinion, single factor theories of intelligence - that is the 'one-size-fits-all' model of theory-building - did a poor job of describing the full range of intellectual abilities that human beings displayed in their daily lives. Besides age and experience, these theories also left out other important factors. Some of these included emotion and the impact of the environment in which people found themselves. Instead, Wechsler argued that intelligence was a global capacity that involved dimensions of intelligence that could be more deeply described and evaluated. Among these, he thought, were individuals' ability to perceive the world around them accurately, to act with purpose, and to find solutions to the problems they faced in life.

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