What Is Fluid Intelligence

As humans in society strive for perfection in all areas, one aspect that has fascinated researchers for years is human intellect. This is understandable when you consider the fact that all creations and inventions are products of the human mind.

Researchers believe that there are different types of intellect, and one of them is fluid intelligence. But what does it mean?

Fluid Intelligence

Have you ever interacted, worked or lived with a person who had the ability to use new information to solve problems without extra clue or additional information? If you have, you’ll find such people fascinating.

People with fluid intelligence may be faced with an entirely new challenge, but they use the little information they have to unravel the mystery and arrive at the answer. If you are such a person, it means that you are intelligently fluid.

What Is Fluid Intelligence

Fluid intelligence is not a new concept but has existed since the early 60d. It was developed by Raymond Cartel, a psychologist, in 1963. This concept is part of an extended intelligence matrix which is further divided into two areas, namely Fluid and Crystallized intelligence.

Fluid intelligence is the ability to think in abstract terms. If you are fluid, you can reason things quickly and resolve problems with little or no previous knowledge or information. Taking in new information and extrapolating such information is nothing new to fluid individuals. They can use new information to explain theories, formulate ideas and resolve problems on their own.

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The concept remains open for debate, but there is a general consensus that people fall into two different intelligence classes. Those who can come up with solutions without prior knowledge and those who use knowledge and skills acquired over time to solve a problem.

While those in the latter class are categorized in the crystallized intelligence group, those in the former are in the fluid intelligence group.

Relationship Between Fluid And Crystallized Intelligence

Researchers believe that there is a relationship between fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence. Some people may be intellectually fluid in their younger years, but as they grow older, it diminishes while their crystallized intelligence increases.

Fluid Intelligence is what puzzles and strategy games test. You use fluid intelligence to unlock the puzzles so you can graduate to the next phase. Despite not having any knowledge of the level, you rely on abstract information and thinking to solve it.

For exam tests for instance, you rely more in crystallized intelligence rather then fluid intelligence. Crystallized intelligence is also required in the workspace where norms, rules, and processes are already established. But workspaces and the entire industry are demanding more fluid intelligence to resolve complex issues that former generations could not overcome.

Fluid Intelligence Measurement

There are different ways to measure fluid intelligence using standardized tests, such as:

  • Raven’s Progressive Matrices
  • Wesschler Intelligence Scale For Children
  • Woodcock-Johnson Test of Cognitive Abilities

They approach fluid intelligence evaluation with the same goal; to understand how people express their cognitive abilities.

Raven’s Progressive Matrices

This test evaluates the relationship between mental representations using non verbal multiple-choice questions that require the candidate to complete several drawings based on their ability to notice bidden features on various objects in spatial positions.

Wesschler Intelligence Scale For Children

This test is designed to test the fluid intellect of children. It uses image stimuli and is a non verbal test comprising matrix reasoning and concept assessment.

Woodcock Johnson Test

The Woodcock Johnson Test uses categorical thinking and a set of sequential reasoning. The puzzle rises in ascending order, and as it progresses, the puzzle becomes difficult. This test is used to test the child’s thinking patterns.

The Height Of Fluid Intelligence

It is common knowledge in the psychological community that fluid intelligence peaks in the late 20s of most individuals and begin to decline over time. This is because as we grow older, we take in more information and rely on accumulated knowledge or experience to deal with daily challenges. But some argue that fluid intelligence doesn’t decrease until we reach our 40s. While the point of decline remains open for debate, it is accepted by psychologists that it declines at some point.

But due to its importance, employers place a premium on candidates who can think fluidly. Candidates who pass these tests are considered for complex roles more than those who do not.


To conclude, let us do a brief breakdown of the difference between Fluid intelligence or Crystalized intelligence.

Crystalized intelligence is rooted in facts, knowledge, and experience. It increases as we age, especially if we study a lot and take in new information. This kind of intelligence can peak for some when they reach 60 and others well into their 70s.

Fluid intelligence on the other hand doesn’t rely on prior information, knowledge or experience to solve a problem but thinks abstractly. It is developed from a young age, starting at infancy in some children, and reaches a peak in young adult life, and as we grow older, our fluid intelligence declines.