J.P. Guilford: Studies & Contribution to Psychology

Instructor: Joe Ricker
J.P. Guilford's influence on psychology helped to change the concept of intellect and how it was measured, as well as revealing the creative process used to solve problems. Read on to learn more about this important psychologist.

J.P. Guilford

J.P. Guilford was a psychologist who changed the standard definition of intelligence. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1927, where he studied under Edward Titchener. Guilford was primarily influenced by the work of Charles Spearman, but ultimately rejected his predecessor's views and understanding of intelligence. Guilford developed new parameters for which intelligence could be measured, and his contributions to education and learning are still influential today.

Guilford's commitment to extending the knowledge of intelligence and how the intelligence of individuals could be measured was a tremendous advantage for both psychologists and educators. Guilford stated: 'Psychology should be the chief basic science upon which the practices of education depend. It should have supplied education with the information it needs concerning the processes of understanding, learning, and thinking, among other things.'

World War II

During World War II, Guilford was promoted to be Chief of the Psychological Research Unit that was developing the Stanine project. The Stanine project organized and implemented the standard nine intellectual abilities necessary for pilots to effectively fly an airplane. Guilford's work increased graduation rates for pilots, and his research with the project was so significant that it influenced qualifying exams for the U.S. military from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Structure of Intellect Model

The Structure of the Intellect (SI) model was Guilford's primary focus of research, out of which he developed his theory on intelligence. Previous theories on intelligence, according to Guilford, revealed little about the creative nature of individuals. Guilford's research helped scientists analyze and understand the nature of creativity.

In psychology, creativity is the ability to generate or understand ideas that influence problem solving and communication, as well as the ability to entertain others and ourselves. Guilford developed a system that organized new mental abilities being discovered through his research, and rejected the hierarchal measure for intelligence embraced by other psychologists.

In the Structure of Intellect model, Guilford established three dimensions, which are:

  • Content
  • Products
  • Operations

Each dimension identifies a series of different tasks that can be combined with the other tasks within the model to measure intelligence or an ability to solve problems based on how an individual's brain processes information. The categories for content are information gathered through visual, auditory, semantic, behavioral or symbolic influences. Products include information from classes, relations, transformation, implications, systems and units. And cognition, divergent production, convergent production, memory and evaluation are categories within the operations dimension. Guilford established each of these dimensions in a cube. When combined, there are 150 different types of measurable intelligence. This model is used by educators in developing testing systems that widen the parameters for measuring learning abilities and intelligence.

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