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The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 27, Issue 1/4, 2011

Including a Special Section

Michael E. Martinez, Dianna Townsend
Pages 95-113

Specific Language As Constituents of Intelligence

Traditionally, psychologists have utilized rather large-grain, macro units to clarify and measure cognition. Favored units include psychometric factors (e.g., IQ, verbal ability, quantitative ability) and categories of cognition (e.g., inductive reasoning, inference, mental rotation). In this paper, we tested the hypothesis that specific language concepts can complement psychometric factors and cognitive categories as distinguishable units of human intelligence. We found that productive use of specific language in persuasive essays predicted cognitive ability scores on the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT). A simple sum of specific words used (ranging from 0 to 7) correlated with cognitive factors almost as highly as the ability tests intercorrelated. The proposed model speculates that, as semiotic signs, discrete language concepts compose in part the cultural heritage passed on with modification from generation to the next. Moreover, in contrast to other units of analysis, cognitive tools in the form of specific language are teachable in a direct and deliberate manner as one function of education.

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