The Naming of Gf-Gc Theory

The original Gf-Gc theory [not to be confused with extended Gf-Gc theory, which has other broad, second-order factors at the top level of its hierarchical structure] received its name when Raymond Cattell (1943; 1963) divided Spearman's factor of general intelligence into two broad, independent ones: fluid intelligence (Gf) and crystallized intelligence (Gc). The purpose of this separation was to account for individuals' cognitive development in adolescence and adulthood. Gf involves mentally working well with novel information and it is dependent on the efficient functioning of the central nervous system. In contrast, Gc is dependent on education and other forms of acculturation. Gc consists of the set of skills and information that individuals acquire and retain in memory throughout their lives. Cattell (1941) proposed that Gf is derived from genetic and biological effects, while Gc primarily reflects environmental influences, such as amount of education and socioeconomic status.


Cattell, R. B. (1941) Some theoretical issues in adult intelligence testing. Psychological Bulletin, 38, 592.

Cattell, R. B. (1943). The measurement of adult intelligence. Psychological Bulletin, 40, 153-193.

Cattell, R. B. (1963). Theory of fluid and crystallized intelligence: A critical experiment. Journal of Educational Psychology, 54, 1-22.

-- Janet E. Davidson , Iris A. Kemp

from "The Cambridge Handbook of Intelligence"

Quoted on Fri Nov 2nd, 2012