Fluid and crystallized intelligence are interrelated throughout a person’s life. The former draws on accumulated experience, while the latter relies on a person’s ability to adapt to new contexts and situations.
Each type of intelligence requires specific skills to overcome obstacles, and although they evolve differently, both can be enhanced through learning.
Given their importance in the educational field for both you and your students, we want to delve into these two concepts through their definitions, differences, and techniques that can help you improve them.
What is fluid intelligence?
Fluid intelligence is a person’s ability to solve new and complex problems, think logically, and reason abstractly without relying on previously acquired knowledge or experience.
It involves the ability to analyze, synthesize, and solve problems quickly.
In other words, crystallized intelligence is based on a person’s ability to draw on their knowledge, which can be refined through learning and is constantly evolving.
Thus, crystallized memory is not necessarily linked to age but rather to the amount and richness of experiences the student has accumulated and their own observations over time.
This type of memory is used to solve problems and make judgments. Crystallized intelligence is also associated with inductive reasoning, which involves drawing general or syllogistic conclusions through personal experiences.
Example of fluid intelligence
For example, a person with high fluid intelligence can quickly adapt to a new situation and figure out how to solve a problem they have never encountered before, such as fixing a broken machine without any prior knowledge of how it works.
What is crystallized intelligence?
Crystallized intelligence refers to the knowledge and skills acquired over time through experience and learning.
It remarks the ability to recall and use previously learned information to solve problems or complete tasks.
Although in this type of intelligence, previous learning does not determine the outcome, and mental flexibility is needed.
Fluid memory relies on innate strategies to, for example, use different mental strategies or operations in problem-solving. Once the student arrives at a successful solution, it is stored in their memory so that crystallized intelligence can draw on it later.
Example of crystallized intelligence
For instance, a person with high crystallized intelligence can use their prior knowledge and experience to complete a complex task, such as writing an essay on a familiar topic.
Differences between fluid and crystallized intelligence
We mainly highlight 4 differences between crystallized and fluid intelligence.
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According to the type of skills
When it comes to the type of skills involved, fluid intelligence is more associated with soft skills like problem-solving, logical thinking, and abstract reasoning.
This type of intelligence helps individuals adapt to new situations and environments, as they are able to think critically and find innovative solutions to complex problems.
On the other hand, crystallized intelligence is more focused on the application of previously acquired knowledge and hard skills, such as reading, writing, and comprehension.
It is the product of years of learning and experience, and helps individuals make sense of the world around them by drawing on their accumulated knowledge.
According to the experience
Crystallized intelligence is perfected through experience. It reaches its peak between the ages of 60 and 70, while fluid intelligence tends to decrease with age starting from around 40 years old.
According to adaptability
The crystallized intelligence is adaptive while the fluid intelligence is genetic. According to this, fluid intelligence is more adaptable and flexible than crystallized intelligence.
According to the situation
Fluid intelligence is essential in situations that require quick thinking and problem-solving, while crystallized intelligence is essential in situations that require the application of knowledge and skills to complete a task.
How to increase both crystallized intelligence and fluid intelligence
While both types of intelligence are partially determined by genetics, they can also be improved through education, training, and practice.
Engage in activities that require problem-solving and critical thinking
Engaging in activities that require critical thinking and problem-solving, such as puzzles, riddles, and brain teasers, can help to increase both types of intelligence.
In this sense, gamification is an educational methodology that allows you to create novel contexts and situations in your classes.
Read and learn regularly
Reading and learning new things regularly can help to increase crystallized intelligence by expanding your knowledge and vocabulary.
A very comprehensive exercise can be to read a book or a fragment and request a written summary of it, as the person must first understand the content, then recall it, and finally convey it.
Get plenty of sleep and exercise
Getting enough sleep and exercise can help to improve cognitive function and increase both types of intelligence.
Practice mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve working memory, attention, and cognitive flexibility, all of which are essential components of fluid intelligence.
Engage in social interactions and discussions
Engaging in social interactions and discussions can help to improve both types of intelligence by exposing you to different perspectives and ideas.
Digital environments provide truly effective solutions when it comes to enhancing your students’ crystallized and fluid learning and can also gather performance reports to analyze the success or detect areas for improvement in your practices.
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