A dynamical model of general intelligence: the positive manifold of intelligence by mutualism

Psychol Rev. 2006 Oct;113(4):842-61. doi: 10.1037/0033-295X.113.4.842.


Scores on cognitive tasks used in intelligence tests correlate positively with each other, that is, they display a positive manifold of correlations. The positive manifold is often explained by positing a dominant latent variable, the g factor, associated with a single quantitative cognitive or biological process or capacity. In this article, a new explanation of the positive manifold based on a dynamical model is proposed, in which reciprocal causation or mutualism plays a central role. It is shown that the positive manifold emerges purely by positive beneficial interactions between cognitive processes during development. A single underlying g factor plays no role in the model. The model offers explanations of important findings in intelligence research, such as the hierarchical factor structure of intelligence, the low predictability of intelligence from early childhood performance, the integration/differentiation effect, the increase in heritability of g, and the Jensen effect, and is consistent with current explanations of the Flynn effect.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Intelligence*
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Psychology / statistics & numerical data*