How can intelligence be tested? Critically evaluate the underlying assumptions of intelligence tests. Intelligence is a very controversial. It is seen as an obsession in daily life and focuses on certain types of intelligence. Francis Galton was the first person to design a ‘mental’ test. Galton believed that an individual’s mental ability could be determined through the deviation of their performance on a simple test to the mean.
He believed that the greater a person’s sensory perception the more intelligence they had. However, Galton never produced a theory about intelligence testing, but paved the way for other psychologists to produce theories and tests.Spearman’s (1904) theory suggested that intelligence was an innate, inherited quality. He suggested that there were two main factors that determined a person’s intelligence; these were general intelligence, needed to perform all tasks and specific intelligence, which is needed to perform specific tasks .i.e., most people can drink out of some sort of cup, this needs general intelligence, however, not all people can sing in tune, this is specific intelligence.Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon (Simon and Binet, 1905) produced the first form of modern intelligence testing in 1905.
The test had a practical purpose and was used to identify children who may need extra help with their school work.
Due to the purpose of the test, the exercises Binet and Simon asked the children to complete were very similar to tasks the children completed within schools, i.e. measures of vocabulary, comprehension of facts and relationships and mathematical and verbal reasoning.The Binet & Simon test was later modified and extended by Lewis Terman and his associates at Stanford University where it was translated for use in the United States (Terman 1916, Terman and Merrill, 1937). The test became known as the Stanford-Binet test and is still being used referred to as Intelligence Quotient; (I.Q). the I.Q. score was calculated by comparing the child’s chronological age, (which means their age is years and months), with their mental age (which refers to the child’s ability to solve problems of certain levels.) i.e if a child could answer questions designed for 8 year olds, but not them designed for 9 year olds, the child would have a mental age of 8.The I.Q test that is now most commonly used is known as the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for children, or the WISC. The most frequently used test used by psychologists is the third revision of the Wechsler Intelligence Scales known as the WISC-III. David Wechsler originally developed the test, which was series of ten different problems that ranged from very easy to extremely difficult; these ten problems were also divided into two subgroups.The verbal scale that involved tasks measuring vocabulary, understanding of similarities between objects and general knowledge. The other subgroup was the performance scale, which involved non-verbal tasks such as arranging pictures in to orders, or copying patterns using coloured blocks. Many psychologists find that this definition of verbal and non-verbal tasks helpful as different between the two skills can identify particular kinds of learning difficulties, i.e. dyslexia.However, ever since the I.Q tests were introduced there have been criticisms about them. Before 1937, the mean score of women using the Stanford-Binet test was on average ten points lower than the average score for men. Although at first it was generally suggested that this was because women were not as intelligent as men, it was later suggested that the questions were more directed towards ‘male’ dominated areas of questioning than women, for example relating questions in terms of cars, card games, mechanics, etc. which at the time was made oriented. Therefore, it was decided to eliminate this discrepancy by modifying the questions to ensure that both males and females would archive around the same average score.According to Heather, (1976) this makes the test less efficient because there may be a ‘natural’ difference between the intelligence levels of men and women through out different points of history, however, by using the new these differences may not be picked up. For example if the I.Q scores were not created to produce approximately the same scores for both males and females we may be able to see why females are currently doing better academically than males.Therefore, this could limit the efficiency of I.Q testing through either historically suggesting that women were inferior to men through their lower I.Q. scores, or through influencing the tests to create equal results for both males and females. It is difficult to say whether the tests were gender bias or whether the psychologists behind the changes to the tests did this to provide unbiased results through positive discrimination towards women.Another criticism of the I.Q. tests that there is an average 10-15 point difference between the ‘White European’ average and the ‘Afro- Caribbean’ average, (Brody, (1992) Fagan & Singer (1983) Peoples, Fagan & Drotar, 1995); (Neisser et al 1996) Heather, (1976) suggests that this difference can be reduced through changing the questions to suit a more mixed ethnic group of participants. However, it was suggested that this would affect the test’s ‘Predictive Validity’. By changing the tests to reduce the racial differences, but without changing the social inequalities within our society would only create a more ineffective test. In order to reduce the ethnic I.Q. score difference, society must first change their attitudes towards other cultures, especially within education/ training and jobs.How ever, Jensen, (1969) published an article called “How much can we boost I.Q. and schooling achievement?” within which he made a controversial suggestion that “Genetic factors are strongly implicated in the average negro-white intelligence differences. The preponderance of the evidence is, in my opinion, less consistent with a strictly environmental hypothesis than with a genetic hypothesis…”Other psychologists including Eysenck (1971) and Herrnstein (1971) agree with Jensn. Jensen suggests that 80% of the difference between ‘blacks’ and ‘whites’ is due to the blacks ‘genetic inferiority’ and 20% due to environmental factors. However, Jensen does not have the biological evidence to back up his claim; he also used a bias sample to carry out his study that was a mainly ‘white’ population.