Robert Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence is an important role play in Cognitive Psychology. Robert Sternberg suggests that successful intelligence, or intelligence that helps us function in our world, is composed of three types of cognitive abilities.
Sternberg calls his theory the triarchic theory of intelligence (Sternberg, 1985, 1997b). According to the triarchic theory, intelligence is composed of analytical, practical, and creative abilities that help us adapt successfully to our environment.
- Analytical intelligence
- Practical intelligence
- Creative intelligence
Analytical intelligence is seen in our ability to use logic to reason our way through problems
—for example, finding a way to fix your car when it breaks down. Analytical intelligence is also important as we implement and evaluate problem-solving strategies, allowing us to evaluate whether or not a particular problem-solving strategy is working well.
Practical intelligence is our ability to adapt to our environment. This is the type of intelligence that we see in people who have a great deal of common sense. People who are high in practical intelligence exhibit savvy. They know how to function efficiently within their environment.
For example, a Central American farmer may be able to predict the weather by noticing changes in the environment. Or someone who lives in New York City may be very good at finding the quickest way across town during rush hour. Both of these people, although they possess very different skills, exhibit practical intelligence. Keep in mind that behaviors and skills may be intelligent in some environments, but not in others.
Creative intelligence is our ability to use our knowledge of the world in novel situations.
For example, suppose you found yourself in a foreign culture where you did not know the language or the customs. Would you be able to function? People who are high in creative intelligence can adapt what they know about the world to meet the unique demands of new situations. In this case, you might use pantomime skills learned while playing charades to help you communicate without words.