Associative learning predicts intelligence above and beyond working memory and processing speed

Scott Barry Kaufman, Colin G DeYoung, Jeremy R. Gray, Jamie Brown, Nicholas Mackintosh

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    79 Scopus citations


    Recent evidence suggests the existence of multiple cognitive mechanisms that support the general cognitive ability factor (g). Working memory and processing speed are the two best established candidate mechanisms. Relatively little attention has been given to the possibility that associative learning is an additional mechanism contributing to g. The present study tested the hypothesis that associative learning ability, as assessed by psychometrically sound associative learning tasks, would predict variance in g above and beyond the variance predicted by working memory capacity and processing speed. This hypothesis was confirmed in a sample of 169 adolescents, using structural equation modeling. Associative learning, working memory, and processing speed all contributed significant unique variance to g, indicating not only that multiple elementary cognitive processes underlie intelligence, but also the novel finding that associative learning is one such process.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)374-382
    Number of pages9
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - 2009


    • Associative learning
    • Elementary cognitive processes
    • Intelligence
    • Processing speed
    • Working memory


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