This was first published 7-10-17. A minor edit to the working memory capacity code (Wc and not WM) was made 7-20-17.
CHC broad and
narrow ability definitions (07-20-17)-v 2.5
from: Schneider, W. J., & McGrew,
K. S. (in press). The Cattell-Horn-Carroll Theory of Cognitive Abilities. In D.
P. Flanagan & Erin M .McDonough (Eds.), Contemporary intellectual
assessment: Theories, tests and issues (4th ed.,) New York:
Narrow abilities with bold font = major
ability; regular font = minor ability.
If all factor codes are regular font under a broad ability = insufficient
data to classify as major or minor (Schneider & McGrew, in press). Italic narrow factor code font
designates “tentative” abilities. Broad ability
color codes (as per Ackerman et al.’s PPIK model of intelligence). Blue – Intelligence-as-process; Gray –
Intelligence-as-knowledge; Green – Intelligence-as-Process (speed/fluency); Red = other tentatively
identified broad abilities.
Dr. Joel Schneider and I have recently submitted our new/revised Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) theory chapter for publication in the 4th edition of the Flanagan and Harrison Contemporary intellectual assessment book (see reference above). Most of the CHC broad and narrow definitions did not change, some changed in minor ways, and others changed significantly. The rationale for changes will be presented in our chapter when the book is published. Here I present the abstracted up-to-date definitions. A PDF copy an be downloaded here. Be sure to purchase the book when it becomes available to learn more about the changes in some of the definitions and proposed revisions to CHC theory.
Fluid reasoning (Gf):
The use of deliberate and controlled procedures (often requiring focused
attention) to solve novel “on the spot” problems that cannot be solved by using
previously learned habits, schemas, and scripts.
(I): The ability to observe a phenomenon and
discover the underlying principles or rules that determine its behavior. This
ability is also known as rule inference.
General sequential reasoning (RG): The
ability to reason logically using known premises and principles. This ability
is also known as deductive reasoning or rule application.
reasoning (RQ): The ability to reason with
quantities, mathematical relations, and operators.
Speed (RE): The
ability to reason with quantities, mathematical relations, and operators.
Seriation, conservation, classification and other cognitive abilities as
defined by Piaget’s developmental theory.
Short-term working memory (Gwm): The ability to maintain and
manipulate information in active attention. The mind’s mental “scratchpad” or
Auditory short-term storage (Wa): The ability to encode and maintain verbal information in primary
Visual-spatial short-term storage (Wv): The ability to encode and maintain visual information in primary
Attentional Control (AC): The ability to manipulate the spotlight of
attention flexibly to focus on task-relevant stimuli and ignore task irrelevant
stimuli. Sometimes referred to as spotlight or focal attention, focus, control
of attention, executive controlled attention, or executive attention.
Working memory capacity (WM):
The ability to manipulate information in
primary memory. Technically not a narrow
ability (WMC = short-term storage + AC).
The ability the ability to learn, store, and consolidate new
information over periods of time measured in minutes, hours, days, and years.
memory (MA): The ability to form a link between two
previously unrelated stimuli such that the subsequent presentation of one of
the stimuli serves to activate the recall of the other stimuli.
memory (MM): The ability
to remember narratives and other forms of semantically related information.
Free recall memory (M6): The ability to recall lists
in any order.
Visual-spatial processing (Gv): The ability to make use of simulated mental imagery to solve
problems. Perceiving, discriminating and
manipulating images in the “mind’s eye.”
Visualization (Vz): The ability to perceive complex visual
patterns and mentally simulate how they might look when transformed (e.g.,
rotated, changed in size, partially obscured, and so forth).
Speeded rotation (SR): The ability to solve problems quickly using
mental rotation of simple images. This ability is similar to Vz but is distinct
because as it involves the speed at which mental rotation tasks can be
(IM): The ability to voluntarily mentally produce
very vivid images of objects, people or events that are not actually present.
Closure speed (CS): The ability to quickly identify and access a
familiar, meaningful visual object stored in long-term memory from incomplete
or obscured (e.g., vague, partially obscured, disguised, disconnected) visual
cues of the object without knowing in advance what the object is.
Flexibility of closure
(CF): The ability to identify a visual
figure or pattern embedded in a complex distracting or disguised visual pattern
or array, when one knows in advance what the pattern is.
Visual memory (MV): The ability to remember complex visual images
over short periods of time (less than 30 seconds).
Spatial scanning (SS): The ability to quickly and accurately survey
(visually explore) a wide or complicated spatial field or pattern with multiple
obstacles and identify a target configuration or identify a path through the
field to a target end point.
Serial perceptual integration
(PI): The ability to recognize an object
after only parts of it are shown in rapid succession.
Length estimation (LE): The ability to visually estimate the length of
objects (without using measurement instruments).
Perceptual illusions (IL):
The ability to not be fooled by visual
(PN): Consistency in the rate of alternating between different visual
Perceptual speed (P): See definition under Gs. P has a secondary loading on Gv.
Auditory processing (Ga): The
ability to discriminate, remember, reason, and work creatively (on) auditory
stimuli, which may consist of tones, environmental sounds, and speech units.
coding (PC): The ability to distinctly hear phonemes, blend
sounds into words, and segment words into parts, sounds, or phonemes.
Speech sound discrimination (US): The ability to detect and discriminate
differences in speech sounds (other than phonemes) under conditions of little
or no distraction or distortion.
Resistance to auditory stimulus
distortion (UR): The ability to hear
words or extended speech passages correctly under conditions of distortion or
and judging rhythm (U8): The ability to recognize and maintain a
Memory for sound patterns (UM): The ability to retain (on a short-term basis)
auditory codes such as tones, tonal
patterns, or speech sounds.
Musical discrimination and judgment
(U1 U9): The ability to discriminate and
judge tonal patterns in music with respect to melodic, harmonic, and expressive
characteristics (phrasing, tempo, harmonic complexity, intensity variations).
Absolute pitch (UP): The ability to perfectly identify the pitch of
Sound localization (UL): The ability to localize heard sounds in space.
Comprehension-knowledge (Gc): The
ability to comprehend and communicate culturally-valued knowledge. Gc includes the depth and breadth of
both declarative and procedural knowledge and skills such as language, words,
and general knowledge developed through experience, learning and acculturation.
Language Development (LD): An intermediate stratum ability to
comprehend and communicate using language. The general understanding of spoken
language at the level of words, idioms, and sentences.
Lexical knowledge (VL): The knowledge of the definitions of words and
the concepts that underlie them. Vocabulary knowledge.
General (verbal) information (K0): The breadth and depth of
knowledge that one’s culture deems essential, practical, or worthwhile for
everyone to know.
Listening ability (LS): The
ability to understand speech. This
ability starts with comprehending single words and increases to long complex
Communication ability (CM): The ability to use speech to communicate
Grammatical sensitivity (MY): The awareness of the formal rules of grammar
and morphology of words in speech.
Domain-specific knowledge (Gkn): The
depth, breadth, and mastery of specialized declarative and procedural knowledge
(knowledge not all members of a society are expected to have). The Gkn domain
is likely to contain more narrow abilities than are currently listed in the CHC
General science information (K1): The range of scientific
knowledge (e.g., biology, physics, engineering, mechanics, electronics).
Knowledge of culture (K2): The range of knowledge about the humanities
(e.g., philosophy, religion, history, literature, music, and art).
· Mechanical knowledge (MK): Knowledge about the function, terminology, and
operation of ordinary tools, machines, and equipment.
· Foreign language proficiency
(KL): Similar to language development (see
Gc) but in another language.
· Knowledge of signing (KF): The knowledge of finger spelling and signing
(e.g., American Sign Language).
· Skill in lip reading (LP): Competence in the ability to understand
communication from others by watching the movement of their mouths and
Reading and writing (Grw): The depth and breadth of declarative and procedural knowledge and
skills related to written language.
Reading comprehension (RC): The ability to understand written discourse.
Reading decoding (RD): The ability to identify words from text.
Reading speed (RS): The rate at which a person can read connected
discourse with full comprehension. Also listed under Gs.
Writing ability (WA): The ability to use written text to communicate
Spelling ability (SG): The ability to spell words.
Writing speed (WS): The ability to copy or generate text quickly.
Also listed under Gs and Gps.
English usage (EU):
Knowledge of the mechanics of writing (e.g., capitalization, punctuation, and
Quantitative knowledge (Gq): The depth and breadth of declarative and procedural knowledge
related to mathematics. The Gq domain
is likely to contain more narrow abilities than are currently listed in the CHC
Mathematical knowledge (KM):
The range of general knowledge, not
performance of mathematic operations or the solving of problems.
Mathematical achievement (A3):
Measured (tested) mathematics
fluency (Gr): The rate
and fluency at which individuals can access information stored in long-term
fluency (FI): The ability
to rapidly produce a series of ideas, words, or phrases related to a specific
condition or object.
fluency (FE): The ability
to rapidly think of different ways of expressing an idea.
Associational fluency (FA): The ability to rapidly produce a series of
original or useful ideas related to a particular concept.
Sensitivity to problems/alternative solution fluency
(SP): The ability to rapidly think of several alternative solutions to a
Originality/creativity (FO): The ability to rapidly produce original,
clever, and insightful responses (expressions, interpretations) to a given
topic, situation, or task.
of lexical access (LA): The ability
to rapidly retrieve words from an individual’s lexicon. Verbal efficiency or automaticity of lexical
access. An intermediate stratum
facility (NA): The ability
to rapidly call objects by their names.
· Word fluency (FW): The ability to rapidly produce words that
share a phonological (e.g., fluency of retrieval of words via a phonological
cue) or semantic feature (e.g., fluency of retrieval of words via a
Figural fluency (FF): The ability to rapidly draw or sketch as many
things (or elaborations) as possible when presented with a nonmeaningful visual
stimulus (e.g., a set of unique visual elements).
Figural flexibility (FX): The ability to rapidly draw different
solutions to figural problems.
speed (Gs): The
ability to control attention to automatically, quickly and fluently perform
relatively simple repetitive cognitive tasks. Attentional fluency or
speed (P): An intermediate stratum level ability
that can be defined as the speed and fluency with which similarities or
differences in visual stimuli (e.g., letters, numbers, patterns, etc.) can be
searched and compared in an extended visual field.
speed-search (Ps): The speed and fluency of searching or
scanning an extended visual field to locate one or more simple visual patterns
speed-compare (Pc): The speed and fluency of looking up and comparing
visual stimuli that are side-by-side or more widely separated in an extended
facility (N): The speed, fluency and accuracy in
manipulating numbers, comparing number patterns, or completing basic arithmetic.
Reading speed (fluency) (RS): The speed and fluency of reading text with
full comprehension. Also listed under Grw.
Writing speed (fluency) (WS): The speed and fluency of generating or copying
words or sentences. Also listed under Grw and Gps.
Reaction and decision speed (Gt): The speed of making very simple
decisions or judgments when items are presented one at a time.
Simple reaction time (R1):
Reaction time to the onset of a single
visual or auditory stimulus.
Choice reaction time (R2):
Reaction time when a very simple choice
must be made.
Inspection time (IT): The speed at which differences in visual
stimuli can be perceived.
· Semantic processing speed (R4): Reaction time when a decision requires some
very simple encoding and mental manipulation of the stimulus content.
Mental comparison speed (R7): The reaction time required when stimuli must
be compared for a particular characteristic or attribute.
Psychomotor speed (Gps): The
ability to perform skilled physical body motor movements (e.g., movement of
fingers, hands, legs) with precision, coordination, fluidity or strength.
Speed of limb movement (R3): The speed of arm and leg movement. This speed
is measured after the movement is initiated. Accuracy is not important.
Writing peed (fluency) (WS): The speed at which written words can be copied.
Also listed under Grw and Gps.
Speed of articulation (PT): The
ability to rapidly perform successive articulations with the speech
Movement time (MT): The time taken to physically move a body part
(e.g., a finger) to make the required response, after a decision or choice has
been made, in an elementary cognitive task.
abilities (Gp): The ability to perform skilled physical body
motor movements (e.g., movement of fingers, hands, legs) with precision, coordination,
or strength. The Gp domain is likely
to contain more narrow abilities than are currently listed in the CHC model.
Manual dexterity (P1): The ability to make precisely coordinated
movements of a hand or a hand and the attached arm.
Finger dexterity (P2): The ability to make precisely coordinated
movements of the fingers (with or without the manipulation of objects).
Static strength (P3): The ability to exert muscular force to move
(push, lift, pull) a relatively heavy or immobile object.
Gross body equilibrium (P4): The ability to maintain the body in an upright
position in space or regain balance after balance has been disturbed.
Multilimb coordination (P6): The ability to make quick specific or discrete
motor movements of the arms or legs.
Arm-hand steadiness (P7): The ability to precisely and skillfully
coordinate arm–hand positioning in space.
Control precision (P8): The ability to exert precise control over
muscle movements, typically in response to environmental feedback (e.g.,
changes in speed or position of object being manipulated).
Aiming (AI): The ability to precisely and fluently execute
a sequence of eye–hand coordination movements for positioning purposes.
Olfactory abilities (Go): The
ability to detect and process meaningful information in odors. The Go domain
is likely to contain more narrow abilities than are currently listed in the CHC
Olfactory memory (OM): The ability to
recognize previously encountered distinctive odors.
Tactile (haptic) abilities (Gh): The
ability to detect and process meaningful information in haptic (touch)
sensations. It includes perceiving, discriminating and manipulating touch
stimuli. Currently there are no
well-supported narrow Gh cognitive
Kinesthetic abilities (Gk): The ability to detect and process meaningful information in proprioceptive
sensations. Currently there are no well-supported narrow Gk cognitive ability factors within Gk.
intelligence (Gei): The ability to perceive emotions
expressions, understand emotional behavior, and solve problems using emotions.
The ability to accurately recognize
emotions in the face, voice, and behavior.
knowledge (Ek): Knowledge of the antecedents of emotions and
the consequences of emotional expression.
· Emotion management (Em): The ability
to regulate one’s emotions deliberately and adaptively.
· Emotion utilization (Eu): The
ability to make adaptive use of emotion, especially to facilitate reasoning.