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Intelligence: A Very Short Introduction

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  442 ratings  ·  38 reviews
For people with little or no knowledge of the science of human intelligence, this volume takes readers to a stage where they are able to make judgments for themselves about the key questions of human mental ability. Each chapter addresses a central scientific issue but does so in a way that is lively and completely accessible. Issues discussed include whether there are ...more
Paperback, 132 pages
Published June 7th 2001 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 2001)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Intelligence: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #39), Ian J. Deary
Deary, I. J. (2001). Intelligence: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Ian John Deary (born 1954) is a Scottish psychologist known for work in the fields of intelligence, cognitive ageing, cognitive epidemiology, and personality. For people with little or no knowledge of the science of human intelligence, this volume takes readers to a stage where they are able to make judgments for
Doc Opp
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is exactly what it promises to be in the title: a very short introduction to the study of intelligence. I went back and forth between four and five stars on this one.

On the one hand it is accessible to laypeople, very well written, engaging, and rigorous. I will be assigning some chapters from it to my students because it is such a strong treatment of the topic (albeit a bit repetitive at some times, that's to help make it broadly accessible).

The downside is that it isn't as thorough as
Mehran Jalali
It was good, but not great.

It focused way too much on the research done on intelligence instead of the findings of the researches. It was maybe a 60-40 split between the two, with the former consuming most of the text.

The book had few insightful lessons in it. Overall, I may have learned 6 or 7 new things (which is not too bad for a 132-page book, but not too good for a book portrayed as being concise), and a few of those things were that "scientists still don't know the reason for ..."

The best
Tuncay Tekle
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, vsi
An excellent read on how cognitive abilities are measured, how they vary on different factors, and what they affect. Beautifully written by a leading researcher in the field for the non-specialist. Another gem in the 'very short introduction' series by Oxford.
Leon Wade
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Chapter 1: How Many Types of Intelligences Are There?
What is intelligence?
“Intelligence is a very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience.” (Gottfredson, 1997)
Consensus among researchers about the important elements of intelligence:
1. Abstract thinking or reasoning – 99.3%
2. Problem-solving ability – 97.7%
3. Capacity to acquire knowledge – 96.0%
Timo Brønseth
Oct 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: usefwl-books
Insight-dense, well-founded and very interesting.

Some key findings and surprises:

• Scores on all the different kinds of intelligence tests researchers have administered correlate very much with each other, such that there seems to be some factor that some people have more of and some people have less of that determines most of their scores on intelligence tests. Call this the "g factor".

• An optimal grouping based on the correlation between scores of many difference intelligence tests gives
Aaron Gertler
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A lovely example of how to write a certain kind of book — the non-fluff introduction to a single academic topic. Within two hours, you’ll have a solid grasp of how psychologists and geneticists think about “intelligence”, and you’ll be ready to read other books.

Deary’s tone is thoroughly encouraging, as though you’ve stopped by his office hours, and he provides hundreds of citations that will send you as deep down the rabbit hole as you wish to go. Really, that’s all he had to do, and it’s
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Did it for me.
Good enough introduction for an outsider to the academic study of intelligence.
Deary went about the explanation of all experiments and their “datasets” concisely.
It’s clear from writing that there isn’t(or wasn’t - it’s a 2001 book) that much of a consensus on matters concerning Intelligence, but it made for good reading with a number of really interesting insights: the growth in the correlation between genetics and IQ with age, the lapses with ‘IQ’, graphology (haha, this was a
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: علوم, 2017
This is an excellently written book regarding the structure, simplicity and the approach to the content. the book discuss several questions related to intelligence by summarizing key research results. I like it when I read a book written by researchers. They know how to approach, view and discuss the questions. The only problem with this book is it is old.
Very interesting finding reported in this book, is that genetics influences intelligence more than enviroment. Another one is that successive
M. Ashraf
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: vsi
A good VSI. The book starts with the types of Intelligence, how our mind work correlate and associate things, shapes, patterns... giving different types of general intelligence. Try to discuss what happens to this computing machine as it grow older. Try to solve the origin of intelligence and its different levels. And Is it increasing generation after generation ?
It is certainly true that intelligence test were used inappropriately and over-zealously at time during the 20th century, and to the
Alexandra Cretan
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"This Very Short Introduction takes readers from no knowledge about the science of human intelligence to a stage where they are able to make judgements for themselves about some of the key questions about human mental ability differences. Each chapter deals with a central issue that is both scientifically lively and of considerable general interest, and is structured around a diagram which is explained in the course of the chapter. The issues discussed include whether there are several different ...more
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I find the concept of these "Very Short Introductions" both useful and exciting. This has been a very readable but most importantly accurate and up to date account that does not compromise the complexity of the subject. It gives a clear overview of a very interesting but still underdeveloped area of research, additionally providing guidance for various kinds of further reading. Overall, a satisfying introduction that encourages the curious to look more into the subject.
Guray Hatipoğlu
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A quick way to peek some of the most critical characteristics of our intelligence.
Apr 26, 2016 rated it liked it
It's largely genetic, it tends to decline over age, it relates to a broad range of abilities. They've broken it down into subcategories. If you're a hiring manager you should test for it.
Keffrey OG
Jul 26, 2019 rated it liked it
I did read it but unfortunately it didn't really answer any questions and it was a pretty bad introduction so if you are really interested in this field would recommend to check it out but for people who aren't really that interested don't recommend because you'll be bored.
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
An excellent introduction into the subject. Deary concentrates on statistical studies and meta-studies to delve into those questions that seem to vex people about intelligence.

Starting with 'general intelligence' and working through the types of brain activity that make it up and the mechanisms through which it can be tested (where it can be tested), Deary then explores what happens to our intelligence as we get older (view spoiler)
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
This provides an excellent and accessible introduction to the topic of intelligence, which is here taken to mean the kind of abstract problem-solving ability measured by tests. The book covers, in each chapter, the general intelligence factor g and its relation to more specific intelligence measures, how intelligence changes with age, the relation between intelligence and properties of the brain, the controversial gene–environment debate, the role intelligence plays in aspects of our lives such ...more
Jurij Fedorov
Feb 02, 2017 rated it liked it
What's the point of a book that yet again avoids the race discussion because of politics?


It's very well written. Everything is easy to understand and as an introduction it's actually quite good. I mean, if you basically only have seen a few documentaries on the subject and read the Wikipedia articles on g factor, then this is a good way to go. It also contains quite a bit of information.


As always I judge these g factor books and social science books on how apolitical they can stay and
Daniel Wright
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
There is, I surmise, somewhere in the unwritten generic guidelines for writing books in OUP's excellent Very Short Introduction series, a rule that just says, 'NO MATHS'. For someone like me - with a maths degree, no less - this can be almost unbelievably patronising, and, ironically, it can even make maths-related subjects difficult to understand. It is a great pleasure, therefore, to find an absolute gem of a book like this one which is willing to break that rule. The author gives a brief and ...more
Bojan Tunguz
Apr 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
There isn't a single area of Psychology that elicits as much contention as the area of psychometrics. To a certain degree this is understandable, since no one wants to be told that she is not as bright as someone else, no matter how true or obvious it might be. However, of all brunches of Psychology, psychometrics has the greatest predictive power. Within the professional community many of the general aspects of intelligence are very well understood and appreciated. This VSI book is an excellent ...more
Darius Daruvalla-riccio
If you believe in "muh blank sl8" and "muh multipl intelligensis", this book might make you cry. It will show you that the scientific data unambiguously says you are wrong.

In summary, a single overarching intelligence measurement (G factor) exists.
G factor correlates with ALL types of intelligence.
G factor correlate with success. IQ tests can predict G-factor reliably.

The book makes all of its points in a scientific way. It provides lots of relevant studies. It's persuasive, easy to
Dec 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ian Dreary has written a very-well researched and generally un-biaised overview of various aspects of intelligence, from testing through to genetics and various controversies and un-answered aspects of research today. He lays it out in an easy-going, and at times slightly humorous manner, and very usefully includes references and annotations for further reading should you want to explore an area further. He is also clear on spelling out his own views, but in a manner that illustrates where he ...more
Sep 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent, concise introduction to the current understanding of intelligence by the academic community. Perhaps the most important aspect of the book is the massive quantity of sources cited and additional reading recommended. The only downsides are that it's a bit dry and the author is openly biased on some areas--the latter aspect isn't as bad as it sounds though, given that he is honest about his perspective, presents multiple sides of each issue, and provides additional reading ...more
I read this in preparation for a psychology exam. It advertises itself as a very short introduction, and that's exactly what it is. It's easy to understand, doesn't get too technical, and gives you a basic grounding in various issues surrounding the study of intelligence, with lots of recommendations for further reading. However, I'd only recommend it if you're brand new to the field of intelligence, otherwise you'll have heard it all before.
Shawlands Lee
Feb 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Over all a good read written specifically for the layman. It is also very honest about what is and is not known about intelligence. Ultimately it is a good foundation book if, like I did, you know nothing about the evidence base for measuring intelligence and the impact that you IQ can have on your life.
Feb 10, 2012 rated it liked it
For someone who is not a student in this field this short book highlights some very interesting aspects of research in intelligence as well as giving a brief overview of what IQ tests actually test and the controversies that arise from the methadology. This is rather dry but as one may expect from this subject that is to be expected.
Steve Mitchell
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
A look into how intelligence is affected by genetics, upbringing, social class and many other variables. Expresses the data by a series of case studies rather than through anecdotal evidence and opinion.
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
The book added very little to what I already knew, and the coverage isn't very detailed.

If you've never read anything about this topic it may be a good place to start, but I obviously was not in the target group.
Kathleen O'Neal
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very interesting book on the topic of intelligence. It should definitely be read alongside critiques of the concept of "intelligence" as we understand it for greater context.
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
Discusses 10 data sets that have set the standard for what it means to be intelligent in a modern european society. Includes a discussion on the WAIS-III standardized IQ test.
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