Guilford's structure of the intellectEdit

Developing the views of L. L. Thurstone, J. P. Guilford rejected Charles Spearman's view that intelligence could be characterised in a single numerical parameter and proposed that three dimensions were necessary for accurate description:

  • Content
  • Operations
  • Productions

He made the important distinction between convergent and divergent production.

Guilford provided a three-dimensional cubical model to explain his theory of the Structure of the Intellect. According to this theory, an individual's performance on an intelligence test can be traced back to the underlying mental abilities or factors of intelligence.


Guilford proposed a model of the intellect as comprising of 120 different intellectual abilities. These abilities were then organized along three dimensions - Operations, Content, and Products.

The Operation DimensionEdit

This is made up of five kinds of operations or general intellectual processes:

Cognition - The ability to understand, comprehend, discover, and become aware.

Memory - The ability to recall information.

Divergent Production - The process of generating multiple solutions to a problem

Convergent Production - The process of deducing a single solution to a problem.

Evaluation - The process of judging whether an answer is accurate, consistent, or valid.

The Content DimensionEdit

It includes the broad areas of information in which operations are applied. It is divided into four categories:

Figural - Includes all that is non-verbal or pictorial.

Symbolic - Includes verbal thinking and communication.

Semantic - Comprises information organized as symbols or signs that have no meaning by themselves, eg: numbers and letters of the alphabet.

Behavioral - Includes all the behavioral-psychological acts of an individual.

The Product DimensionEdit

As the name suggests, this dimension contains results of applying particular operations to specific contents. There are six kinds of products, they are:

A Unit - It represents a single item of information.

A Class - Is a set of items that share some attributes.

A Relation - Represents a connection between items or variable.

A System - Is an organization of items or networks with interacting parts.

A Transformation - Changes in an item's attributes, eg: Reversing the order of letters in a word.

An Implication - Is an expectation or prediction.

Therefore, according to Guilford there are 5 x 4 x 6 = 120 intellectual abilities or factors. Each ability stands for a particular operation in a particular content area resulting in specific product.

Guilford later modified his model of the intellect, he replaced the figural category within the Content Dimension with Auditory and Visual Content categories. As a result of the change in the Content Dimension to 5 categories, the overall number of intellectual abilities increased to 5 x 5 x 6 = 150 categories.

See alsoEdit

References & BibliographyEdit

Key textsEdit


  • Guilford, J.P. (1967) The Nature of Human Intelligence
  • Guilford, J.P. & Hoepfner, R. (1971) The Analysis of Intelligence


Additional materialEdit



External links Edit

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