Explain Sternberg’s Triarchic theory of intelligence

Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence is a comprehensive framework that aims to explain the nature of human intelligence. Developed by psychologist Robert J. Sternberg, this theory proposes that intelligence is not a single, unitary concept but a combination of different aspects that work together to solve problems and adapt to the environment.

Explain Sternberg’s Triarchic theory of intelligence

The Triarchic Theory posits three main components of intelligence: analytical intelligence, creative intelligence, and practical intelligence. Each of these components plays a crucial role in an individual’s cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills.

Explain Sternberg’s Triarchic theory of intelligence The first component of the Triarchic Theory is analytical intelligence. This aspect refers to the ability to analyze, evaluate, and apply logical reasoning to solve problems. It involves critical thinking, abstract thinking, and the ability to process information efficiently. People with strong analytical intelligence excel in academic settings that require problem-solving, logical reasoning, and the manipulation of complex ideas. They are skilled at breaking down problems into smaller components, identifying patterns, and using deductive and inductive reasoning to arrive at solutions.

The second component of the theory is creative intelligence. Creative intelligence encompasses the ability to generate innovative and original ideas, think outside the box, and find novel solutions to problems. It involves the capacity for divergent thinking, which refers to the ability to generate multiple perspectives and alternative solutions. People with high creative intelligence often excel in areas such as art, music, writing, and scientific research. They are characterized by their ability to approach problems from unique angles, make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts, and come up with unconventional solutions.

The third component of the Triarchic Theory is practical intelligence. Practical intelligence relates to the ability to apply knowledge and skills effectively in real-world situations. It involves adapting to changing environments, understanding social dynamics, and using one’s abilities to navigate everyday challenges successfully. People with high practical intelligence are skilled at “street smarts” and possess good interpersonal and social skills. They are adept at managing their own emotions and understanding the emotions of others, which enables them to communicate effectively and resolve conflicts. Explain Sternberg’s Triarchic theory of intelligence


Sternberg, in 1988, developed the ‘triarchic theory of intelligence,’ which proposes the existence of three distinct types of intelligence: analytical intelligence (also known as componential intelligence), creative intelligence (referred to as experiential intelligence), and practical intelligence (known as contextual intelligence). Explain Sternberg’s Triarchic theory of intelligence

1) Componential or analytical intelligence refers to the ability to break down the
problem into components and analyze things for problem –solving. It refers to the
internal mechanisms used in problem solving. It reflects the traditional
conceptualization of intelligence and relates more to the academic achievement. It
is also called as being ‘book smart’.They are good in problem solving and abstract
reasoning. Explain Sternberg’s Triarchic theory of intelligence

Analytical intelligence or academic problem solving skills consists of three components such as metacomponents, performance components and knowledge acquisition components. Metacomponents are the executive part which controls the other two components. They control and monitor the cognitive processing. They tell the performance components what to do. Performance components help in performing a task or solving a problem. Thus it uses attention, coding , memory etc. Knowledge acquisition components help in acquiring knowledge and uses different strategies for it.

2) Experiential or creative intelligence refers to new ways of problem solving by engaging in divergent thinking. It uses prior knowledge and experience to come up with new ideas and solve problems. It includes two components: Automation and novelty. Automation means some aspects of information processing are automated, they do not require much attention, effort or energy. They can run parallel to other processes. This enables the individual to use cognitive resources for coming up with novel/ new ideas.

3) Contextual or practical intelligence refers to the ability to use information to function effectively in life. It is also known as ‘street smart’ or being high on ‘common sense’. It is the ability to understand and deal with everyday situation and events successfully. It is the ability to adapt, adjust and change depending on the contextual requirements. Thus they can handle real life problems. It includes the components/subtheories of adaptation, shaping and selection. 

As Sternberg states, “Intelligence is purposive adaptation to, shaping of, and selection of real-world environments relevant to one’s life”. Adaptation takes place when one makes changes within oneself to adjust to a new environment. For example, an intelligent person upgrades himself by learning new technologies to improve his employability.
Shaping occurs when one changes one’s environment according to his requirement.
For example, the person may try to change the attitude of the employer or impress the selection committee.


Leave a Comment