Thursday November 24th 2022

Kristof Kovacs spoke about recent developments in cognitive abilities and giftedness.

For a long time, giftedness has been synonymous with having a high IQ. Even though this approach has been questioned, in the case of so-called ‘cognitive giftedness’ having high intelligence clearly is an indicator. Unfortunately, the nature or even the very definition of intelligence is controversial. Is there a unitary general intelligence that permeates all kinds of cognitive activity? Or are there independent specific abilities, like verbal or visuospatial ability? The theory of general intelligence is based on the ‘positive manifold’: the finding that the result of different cognitive ability tests always correlate positively, that is, someone scoring above average on one kind of test is likely to score above average on other kinds as well, regardless of the tests’ content, such as vocabulary or mental rotation. Recently, accounts of the positive manifold have been proposed that offer an explanation of the positive manifold without assuming an ubiquitous general cognitive ability. These approaches have far-reaching consequences for the interpretation of IQ as well as test scores in general and, in turn, for the identification of giftedness in the cognitive realm.

Kristóf Kovács obtained an MA from the University of Szeged and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Subsequently, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics and the University of Amsterdam. His main interest is individual differences in cognitive abilities, bridging cognitive psychology and psychometrics. Currently, he is senior research fellow at Eötvös Loránd University and supervisory psychologist of Mensa International.