Guilford’s Structure of Intellect Model and Model of Creativity: Contributions and Limitations

Guilford Theory of Intelligence

J.P. Guilford can be named the father of modern creativity research. He has influenced a lot in the psychology of creativity. There are strengths in his research work but just like any other discovery, there are limitations too. Let’s look at the contributions and limitations of Guilford’s approach to intellect and creativity.

Joy Paul Guilford was an American psychologist who suggested his theory of Intelligence in 1956. Guilford’s Structure of Intellect (SOI) Model is a theory of multiple intelligences. According to Guilford, Intelligence is a combination of multiple intellectual abilities rather than just one attribute. SI theory comprises up to 150 different components of intelligence arranged along three dimensions, which are operation, content, and products.

Guilford’s Structure of Intellect Model

Guilford’s interest in creativity plays a major driving force in his theory. It is important to understand Guilford’s model of Intelligence first to understand his model of creativity. In Guilford’s Structure of Intellect (SI) theory, intelligence comprises three dimensions namely, operations, products, and contents. There are 5 kinds of operations- cognition, memory, divergent production, convergent production, evaluation, 6 kinds of products- units, classes, relations, systems, transformations, and implications, and 5 kinds of contents- visual, auditory, symbolic, semantic, behavioral. 

Operations Dimension

There are six operations:

  1. Cognition: It is the ability to understand, comprehend, discover, and become aware of the information gathered.
  2. Memory recording: It is the ability to memorize information.
  3. Memory retention: It is the ability to recollect information.
  4. Evaluation: It is the ability to know if the information is accurate and valid or not.
  5. Divergent production: It is the ability to come up with several solutions to a problem.
  6. Convergent production: It is the ability to end up with a single solution to a problem.

Products Dimension

There are six products:

  1. Units: It is a single item of information.
  2. Class: It is a set of items sharing common attributes.
  3. Relations: It is the items linked as opposites or in associations, sequences, or analogies.
  4. Systems: It is multiple items interrelated to compromise structures or networks.
  5. Transformation: Change’s perspectives, conversions, or mutations to knowledge.
  6. Implication: Predictions, inferences, consequences, or anticipations of knowledge.

Content Dimension

There are five contents:

  1. Visual: It is the visual information perceived through the eyes.
  2. Auditory: Information perceived by the ear
  3. Symbolic: Information perceived as symbols or signs that mean something else.
  4. Semantic: Information perceived verbally in words or sentences. It may be in written form or orally.
  5. Behavioural:  Information perceived as acts of an individual/individuals.

Therefore, Guilford’s theory of intelligence consists of 5*5*6= 150 intellectual abilities.

Guilford’s Model of Creativity

For Guilford, creativity was a part of intelligence. He assumed creativity was a form of problem-solving. According to Guilford, there were four types of abilities for solving problems:

  • Sensitivity to problems
  • Fluency, which consists of:
    • Ideational fluency.
    • Associational fluency.
    • Expressional fluency.
  • Flexibility, which consists of: (i) Spontaneous flexibility (ii) Adaptive flexibility

Contributions of Guilford Theory of Intelligence

Provided Aid in Gathering Data

The introduction of Guildford’s Theory of Intelligence contributed to gathering and understanding information for a better analysis of students’ intelligence.


The implication of Guildford’s Theory of Intelligence contributed in responsible decision-making and smart problem-solving skills which can be beneficial for the learners as well as their teachers.

Fosters Creativity

The application of Guildford’s Theory of Intelligence contributed to making an individual creative, practical, analytical and logical.

Analyzes Different Types of Intelligence

The implication of Guildford’s Theory of Intelligence assists in contributing to understanding the intelligence of different age groups.

Better Understanding of Individual Differences

The application of Guildford’s Theory of Intelligence contributed to aid in studying individual differences in society.

Discover Mental Abilities

The implication of Guildford’s Theory of Intelligence provided assistance and contribution to discovering many mental abilities and cognitive capabilities that people weren’t aware of before.

Further Contributions

  • Guildford was one of the first to broadly discuss the definition of intelligence.
  • New mental abilities that weren’t known before was discovered by Guilford’s research.
  • Guilford’s focus on understanding how the intelligence of individuals could be measured was a huge advantage for both psychologists and educators. 
  • Guilford’s theory gave a wider idea about the creativity of humans which the earlier researchers seemed to ignore.
  • Scientists were able to analyze and understand the nature of creativity through Guilford’s work.

Limitations of Guilford’s Theory

  1. Today, many psychologists consider Guilford’s theory to be old fashioned.
  2. Guilford’s theory focuses more on confirmation than disconfirmation.
  3. Guilford’s theory is mostly based on psychometric tests, which he used for measuring SI abilities.
  4. Few of the critics have suggested that the psychometric testing used to measure intelligence is flawed and limits the applications.

However, even with its limitations, Guilford’s theory has contributed a lot to many psychologists in doing their research on intelligence and creativity. It has also proved to be of great help to scientists and in the educational field.

Guilford’s Structure of Intellect Model and Model of Creativity Contributions and Limitations
Guilford’s Structure of Intellect Model and Model of Creativity Contributions and Limitations

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